Keyboard's true potential;Books

4th June 1999 at 01:00
OPPORTUNITIES FOR INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY IN THE PRIMARY SCHOOL. By Helen Smith. Trentham Books pound;9.95.

Les Watson on the possibilities of ICT in primary schools

In this practical, curriculum- driven book, educational purpose comes first, technology second. It contains a mixture of classroom-based research findings, accounts of children's reactions, and descriptions of software which together give an overview of information and communications technology in primary schools.

Recent developments in both technology and the curriculum are acknowledged, but attention is also paid to the lessons learned over the past decade with the use of IT in education. The use of legacy software and hardware, such as programs which fall into the "useful little program" category, and several which make use of older computers still common in many primary schools, is described in a variety of subject contexts.

The introduction provides useful information highlighting the opportunities offered by the latest technology, set against a background of constraints such as the need for training for teachers to make use of ICT, and the patchy provision of hardware in primary schools.

Much of the book covers aspects of ICT which support mathematics and English: using the computer as a graphing tool, conducting investigative work with spreadsheets, and using overlay keyboards to support writing.

The internet and multimedia authoring are included, as are chapters on data-logging, control technology and the use of floor turtles.

In each case, as well as describing types of software and their application, Helen Smith has used research findings and observations to highlight the educational impact of the technology. The combination of descriptions of ICT applications and accounts of uses by children helps readers understand its full potential.

This informative and accessible book is primarily aimed at teachers engaged in professional development or undergoing initial training. It provides useful material for those wishing to develop their understanding of the contribution that ICT can make.

Les Watson is dean of learning and information services at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education

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