Playing the name game;Editorial;Opinion

11th June 1999 at 01:00
Acronyms. Education is so overburdened with them that my first inclination was to groan after hearing of the wrangle (page 4) over whether we should use IT (information technology) or ICT (information and communications technology). Nothing better to argue about?

Most people in education, from government ministers down, are already using the term ICT extensively so perhaps it is the right time to formalise its use, although many of us will probably end up happily using both terms and fudging the differences for some time to come.

A consensus seems to have emerged that IT refers to the skills and mechanics of using computers, while ICT refers to how we employ those skills effectively in education.

The accent on communication is welcome, and appears linked to the new curriculum's emphasis on plain English. Three of the reasons why teachers have found it difficult to come to terms with using computers is because of the daunting technical issues, the jargon involved and the poor communication skills of many of the very people who should be getting them interested.

The National Association of Co-ordinators and Teachers of IT thinks the switch to ICT could be confusing for teachers and wants the Government to stick with IT. The irony is that this organisation still goes by its original acronym - ACITT.

A few years ago an ACITT member berated The TES for publishing, in the interests of accuracy, the reorganised outfit's correct title - NACTIT. No wonder it has strong feelings about acronyms.

Yes, it appears that people do sit down together, have level-headed conversations and still come up with absurd acronyms. Against this background ICT is surely a minor offender. The legal profession is attempting to make its language less daunting - technologists should follow.

ASSUMMER unfurls, such little spats will evaporate. End of term is nearly here and, weather willing, it's time to escape the classroom. Which is why this edition of Online is devoted to the pleasurable pursuits, which can, incidentally, provide insights into how computers are used out in the wide world (page 12). Theme parks are ideal, particularly places such as Legoland Windsor (page 14). There is even a useful resource pack written by a teacher for teachers to help you get the most out of your visits (page 26). And if you know someone who would like to win a free place at an ACE Computer Camp, see our competition on page 41.

If the weather's not so good this summer you might like to look for inspiration on websites created by teachers (page 20), if you have Internet access, that is. And if you haven't, maybe we can help you with our new free Internet service.

WELCOME to Learnfree. Designed to help teachers, learners and parents avoid the obstacles and pitfalls on the route to familiarity with ICT in education and the National Grid for Learning, The TES last month launched its new free Internet service, www.learnfree.co.uk.

It gives you up to five email addresses, Web space for your own pages, a filtering system to combat anti-social material and a wealth of educational resources: software evaluations from the Parents Information Network, a new TES book reviews archive, children's games and puzzles and a "virtual staffroom" in which to vent your spleen.

But don't spend too much time in front of a screen. The key phrase is "appropriate technology", and at this time of year that is as likely to be a bottle opener as a computer. Summer's here, the term is nearly at an end and you have earned your holiday. Enjoy.

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