Pause the Zeitgeist;Letter

16th April 1999 at 01:00
As an ICT co-ordinator I am very excited by the new learning opportunities that the Internet and the NGFL will bring, as well as the benefits of multimedia software in pupils' learning. However, as a primary classroom teacher and a school governor I find it difficult to rationalise the huge expenditure involved.

There are murmurings around many staffrooms when ICT budgets are discussed, usually followed by ICT coordinators burying their heads in shame as other co-ordinators list the resources that they could buy with "that sort of money!" Therefore, given the very tight budgets that most primary schools find themselves working within, is ICT cost effective? Would pupils benefit more from the reallocation of funding to traditional classroom teaching and learning resources?

I still hold on to the vision that ICT can revolutionise the learning experience across the curriculum for all pupils and raise their achievements, but we are not there yet. The problem and paradox is that ICT is grossly under-funded. The significant impact that ICT can make, won't be made while schools have just one or two computers per class or a single computer suite shared throughout the school. Who would want a blackboard that could only be read by one or two pupils at a time or by the whole class for one or two lessons a week? And if schools, at the expense of other subject areas, need to buy more ICT resources in order to make more effective use of their existing computers, are they perhaps dabbling in something beyond their means?

Stephen Norwood MA student in IT in Education, Brunel University

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