ICT is revolutionary, as it allows us access to phenomenal amounts of information, social and personal interaction, audio-visual and written communication, globalization, sharing of creativity and ideas, commerce, and mobilization of opinion (Allen et al, 2007).
In an era increasingly reliant on ICT technology, it is highly probable that such technology will play a huge part in children’s lives as adults (Martin, 2006).Therefore it is of the utmost importance that children are given numerous varied experiences to learn about ICT and become confident with it in order to benefit later in life (Ager, 2003), as ‘ICT has power to make the world a better place, and understanding of ICT is the key to exercising that power.’ ICT provides opportunities for children to think logically and work with others, while also being independent and responsible learners. It also encourages children to be resourceful and create things, as well as to overcome problems and evaluate their own work, gaining confidence and developing understanding (Naace, 2012).
It is therefore essential for schools to have up-to-date, relevant, functional and plentiful collection resources that allow children to have memorable first-hand experiences in order to gain skills, knowledge and ideas on technology (Duffty, 2006). A sound collection would include interactive whiteboards, iPads with both free and paid-for apps, digital cameras and recorders, Macs, various types of floor turtles and the accessories, digital blue movie cameras and countless ICT computer programs for various ages and abilities. Since, according to Condie et al (2007) ‘good resources can have an impact on motivation and attainment’, it is important for teachers to be confident and competent with their use of these resources in order to give children the best possible opportunities. Many children are very capable users of ICT technology, possibly more so than adults of today (Ager, 2003). Therefore it can be valuable to simply allow children opportunities to explore and experiment independently or in pairs or small groups to learn from each other and their experiences. Equally, if certain children are particularly interested and knowledgeable about certain resources then it may be useful to encourage them to share their knowledge with the rest of the class, which would give them the sense of independence, worth, appreciation and a feeling of expertise (Allen et al, 2007).
However, teachers themselves must have an understanding of these resources, their potential for global and local communication and of the nature of the knowledge and information revolution they represent. They need to be able to challenge those children who have good knowledge in order to help them to progress, and to develop the understanding of less confident children. It is important that teachers act as facilitators or guides and for teachers, and children to share ideas and information to help each other (Allen et al, 2007).
Condie et al (2007) states that ICT resources should be used not only to enhance children’s growing knowledge of digital systems, but also that ICT skills are an essential part of learning in other subjects. Through the use of ICT, the curriculum can be enhanced and become more interactive and memorable. Equally, children can witness a clear link between subjects, instead of viewing them as separate (Yelland, 2002).
The example activity below may illustrate how ICT can foster the integration of curriculum subjects. Whilst on placement, stop-go-animation films were created by year one and two children in small groups of twos and threes; lots of photos were taken on digital blue movie cameras consistently and merged together to form a film (see the film below).
Much preparation went into the making of these films. First, a theme had to be discussed and decided on by the class (they chose the theme ‘in a park’) and storyboards had to be written, which incorporated literacy well, the children felt inspired to write, as they felt that they had a purpose (Atherton, 2002). Furthermore, park backgrounds had to be designed and painted, characters had to be designed and dressed and props had to be made, all of which provided art and design links. Finally, the children spent a whole day devising and recording their story, whilst following their story boards which incorporated both literacy and ICT. Finally, a PSHE link was evident, as the children were co-operating with each other, sharing and some groups even assigned specific roles to each member in their group. It was obvious that the children thoroughly enjoyed this experience and gained a great number of skills from it. It was extremely satisfying to see one child’s behaviour issues in other lessons, fail to surface in this lesson. His self-esteem improved (Atherton, 2002) and he became completely immersed in the task, as he had a particular passion and flair for photography and utilised his talents and actually gave the rest of his group fantastic encouragement and support. As a result an excellent film was produced. This project demonstrated the value of digital literacy (see the video below), as it brought the ‘learning to life’ (Atherton, 2002, p.145) and allowed the children to learn actively, be creative and imaginative and exceed expectations. As with any project, it is about spotting links and seizing opportunities and allowing for creativity (Atherton, 2002).
Although the majority of ICT is viewed as potent but enabling, it is thought by some that using the internet is dangerous to children and therefore they should not have access to it, because they may view inappropriate content or communicate with strangers and give out personal details (Elston, 2007). Although these are worrying factors, it is actually more beneficial for teachers to teach children about internet safety, as the internet plays such a crucial part in our society, it would be more harmful to let children leave school without knowing how to access and use it responsibly. Equally, it is apparent that the learning involved in ICT actually outweighs the risks. Furthermore, schools have policies for ICT use and the blocking of unsuitable content (Gillespie, 2006). Therefore by instilling children with knowledge of how to stay safe online, both children and teachers can work together to eradicate unsuitable websites.
To conclude, ICT is an ever growing phenomenon that is revolutionizing knowledge and perception and therefore it is vitally important that children be immersed in a rich technological environment, where they have opportunities to experiment with ICT resources and gain knowledge and understanding and from that form their own opinions and ideas about technology (Ager, 2003). But it is also essential that teachers provide children with important information in order to stay safe when using the internet, instead of preventing them from using it, to encourage them to be responsible and to give them every experience possible.
Ager, R. (2003) Information and Communications Technology in Primary Schools Children or Computers in Control? 2nded. London: David Fulton Publishers Ltd.
Allen, J., Potter, J., Sharp, J. and Turvey, K. (2007) Primary ICT Knowledge, Understanding and Practice. 3rd ed. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Atherton, T. (2002) Developing Ideas with Multimedia in the Primary Classroom. In: Loveless, A. and Dore, B. (eds.) ICT in the Primary School. Buckingham: Open University Press. pp. 125 – 145.
Duffty, J. (2006) Primary ICT. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Elston, C. (2007) Using ICT in the Primary School. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
Gillespie, H. (2006) Unlocking Learning and Teaching with ICT Identifying and Overcoming barriers. London: David Fulton Publishers.
Martin, A. (2006) Literacies for the digital age: preview of part 1. In: Martin, A. and Madigan, D. (eds.) Digital Literacies For Learning. London: Facet Publishing. pp. 3 – 25.
Yelland, N. (2002) ASDF; LKJH: Challenges to Early Childhood Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Information Age. In: Loveless, A. and Dore, B. (eds.) ICT in the Primary School. Buckingham: Open University Press. pp. 85 – 101.