Start with the nitty-gritty
If there's one thing more frightening than having to learn how to use a computer, then it's learning how to use it with children. A book covering what one needs to do to achieve qualified teacher status is welcome.
This guide, by Steve Higgins and Nick Packard, starts with some useful background information placing the requirements for ICT proficiency firmly in the context of the debate about raising standards.
This is interesting, but most readers will want to go straight to the "nitty-gritty". There are three parts to the book, concerning the reader's ICT skills, ICT in the classroom, and ICT and one's own professional development. The first part is well thought out: it doesn't merely describe what different kinds of software do, but provides a framework for thinking about ICT in the context of teaching. For example, it suggests using the thesaurus in a word processor to enable children to explore the effects on meaning of selecting different words. Moreover, the book provides a theoretical framework, relating such activities to concepts like "provisionality".
With one eye always on the end qualification, there are exercises and a summary at the end of each chapter, laying out what you need to know in order to achieve the required standard.
The middle section is quite practical and covers ICT in literacy, numeracy, science and across the curriculum, as well as its relationship to developing thinking and other skills. The final section is about developing the use of ICT for your own benefit, and includes advice on applying for that all-important first teaching job.
The book is an ambitious project, seeking to combine an academic approach with practical guidance, at the same time as remaining readable. It succeeds.
Terry Freedman is an independent ICT consultant and runs the ICTin Education site www.ictineducation.org