13th July 2001 at 01:00
Issues in Teaching Using ICT. Edited by Marilyn Leask. RoutledgeFalmer pound;15.99. TES Direct pound;15.49

We've had significant numbers of computers in our classrooms for nearly 20 years. We've also realised that connected computers are more powerful in the educational context than stand-alones. Yet despite investment in kit and communications, ICT in education has made little difference - and where it has it's been to automate instruction using didactic programs.

That's why publications such as Issues in Teaching with ICT are so important. The book is a collection of articles by researchers and practitioners on aspects of IT and communications systems in education. The articles are presented in three sections covering political and philosophical issues, implications for teaching approaches and pupil learning, and the wider issues for education. There is a recognition throughout the book that communications, the C in ICT, and the associated tools such as the web, provide a "second wave" of the information revolution fuelling new ways of learning.

The first of the themed sections of the book focuses on the communications potential by analysing government initiatives and their impact, exploring the potential of professional electronic networks and discussing the wider implications of school connectivity. The teaching and pupil learning section considers aspects of websites, video-conferencing, multimedia and special needs, as well as the impact of technology on the role of the teacher. Teachers will find this section, which contains case studies, particularly useful.

The big questions pop up in the final section covering the wider issues. These include the potential role of the school intranet in developing a learning community, the changing nature of literacy and the challenge of lifelong learning in the electronic age.

There is material that brings together themes of learning, culture and technology. Each article has a list of questions, and in some cases activities, that encourage the reader to reflect on the writing. There are also references to other work.

This book covers a range of research findings, classroom-based experiences, and reflective analysis. It is not a book for the new user of ICT in education, but for teachers who are curious about what ICT can do for them and their pupils.

Les Watson is director of learning and information resources at Glasgow Caledonian University

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