If you're not literate, you cannot read a book, and if you lack information technology (IT) skills, you can't use a computer. In primary schools, IT is another subject that classroom teachers are expected to teach their pupils, while in secondary schools, IT may be a separate subject taught by a specialist teacher, or delivered across the curriculum by a mix of specialist and non-specialist staff.
For teachers with little or no experience of IT, this can be a daunting prospect. Keith Morrison, senior education adviser at Medway Council, says:
"Teachers must try and remain confident that their long-earned skills of 'teaching' are still appropriate in an age that depends on the ability to make good use of ICT (information and communications technology). Their subject specialism and their talents are still needed - they just need to be applied to a new context."
As part of the National Grid for Learning initiative, Medway's schools have all been issued with portable computers for this purpose. Keith Morrison adds: "One of my concerns is that schools have often bolted their computers to their school building, thus denying teachers the flexibility to use them outside normal hours. We have found that teachers cannot access computers for their own preparation during school hours as pupils are making use of the school network, so teachers need the flexibility and privacy that computers at home offer."
Back in the classroom, Keith Morrison recommends that teachers start using IT with something that will transform activities which are normally difficult to do - this may involve using a CD-Rom or going to a website.
With ICT playing such a central role in the curriculum, and initiatives like the NGFL gaining momentum, it is increasingly hard to avoid using IT in the classroom. And as Keith Morrison puts it: "ICT has the ability to turn on pupils like never before. No longer are pupils restricted to just writing to their teacher; now they can publish to the world."
10 USEFUL RESOURCES
1 Information Technology, a scheme of work for Key Stages 1 amp; 2, (pound;20 from QCA, tel: 0181 867 3333) 2 Primarily IT, using IT to support English, maths and science at KS2 (pound;7.50 from Becta, tel: 01203 416669) 3 The BBC's Computers Don't Bite website www.bbc.co.ukeducationcdbteachers 4 Equip yourself with a digital camera, it will improve your ICT, private life, field trips, web pages and DTP 5 Any book by Alvin Toffler. He will make you think about where technology is going 6 CNET is one of the best ICT sites on the Internet for keeping up to date http:www.cnet.com 7 The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap, by Seymour Papert (pound;13.50, only available on Internet) 8 Silicon Snake Oil by Clifford Stoll, pound;5.99, Pan Books; ISBN: 0330344420. Critical but not Luddite 9 BECTA ICT research site offers useful areas - atvtc.ngfl.gov.ukvtclibraryproj.html 10 Upgrading and Repairing PCs, by Scott Mueller (pound;51.49 from QUE) - good for practical queries