'Technology trumps books'

12th November 2010 at 00:00
55% of survey respondents say no internet at home puts pupils at a `serious' disadvantage

Almost seven out of 10 teachers believe interactive whiteboards and computers in classrooms are more important than textbooks, according to a joint survey by The TES and the e-Learning Foundation.

In a poll of almost 600 teachers, 68 per cent of respondents felt ICT equipment was more significant to their pupils than traditional teaching materials.

More than half - 55 per cent - believed pupils would be "seriously disadvantaged" with no internet access at home. But a smaller proportion - almost 30 per cent - predicted that textbooks will become obsolete.

The figures follow decisions from the Department for Education to significantly cut back support for ICT in schools.

In one of his first acts as education secretary, Michael Gove abolished the Government's ICT advisory body Becta, a key casualty in the Coalition's "bonfire of the quangos". By July, Mr Gove had raided schools' IT budgets twice, taking a total of pound;100 million from the harnessing technology grant to pay, in part, for his controversial free schools policy.

Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the e-Learning Foundation, a charity that aims to tackle the digital divide, said the results showed that a "change in pedagogy" is currently taking place in schools.

"More than 80 per cent of respondents believe that access to the internet at home is either essential or desirable, which shows that teachers are setting more and more homework that requires technology," Ms Thompson said.

"Just one in five do not see it as being essential, and they are the minority we need to focus on. Headteachers will have more control over how they spend their money, so we must engage senior management teams to ensure they support IT."

Julian Morgan, assistant head at Chatsmore Catholic High School in Worthing, which has been supported by the foundation, said change is only really starting to take place with younger teachers.

"We have been educating teachers in the same way pretty much for the last 100 years," he said. "It is only the teachers coming through now who have a clear understanding of technology because they have grown up with it.

"The danger of technology is that it can breed laziness. You have to teach pupils how to filter and refine the information they receive; teach them, in a sense, to be better learners."

But Angela Darnell, head of Egglescliffe School in Teesside, which recently won an award for its ICT provision, believes textbooks offer too much to become obsolete.

"With the internet we can show video and other resources, but the textbook allows the pupils to go on and learn," she said.

The e-Learning Foundation will hold its autumn conference on 18 November. For information visit www.e-learningfoundation.com.

Original headline: `Technology trumps books' say 7 out of 10 teachers

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