What the resource is:
This is a glossy, 40-page A4, Futurelab booklet that is readily and freely available as a PDF file and currently in print (12/06). It is a review of research and projects and uses four cases studies to illustrate and inform its conclusions. It identifies that digital technologies have a broad and pervasive impact upon the 14-19 agenda through an approach that particularly concentrates upon learning theory including constructivist, cognitivist and social approaches. The key findings, that have the most impact upon teacher training, are that digital technologies have yet to make a significant impact upon teaching and learning, the research is yet to reveal coherent and efficient methodologies and teachers must adopt an experimental approach in their adoption of the new technologies. The report also considers the decision making process of young people and the influence digital technologies can have upon that activity.
The aims of the resource:
It is the self-declared role of Futurelab to better understand the role that digital technologies might play in education. This document looks at important aspect of education and draws conclusions relating to pedagogy and policy of technology-based experience of young adults. This review is not intended to be a definitive statement but intends to stimulate debate and act as a useful resource for those looking to develop learning environments. To that end, this document serves us well.
The major output of this report is not based upon 'key findings', but is based upon 'key questions' for research to answer.
- Is there evidence that digital technologies contribute significantly to established pedagogies?
- Is there evidence that digital technologies specifically encourage independent and collaborative modes of learning?
- Do digital technologies enable learning opportunities that specifically benefit the educationally disadvantaged?
- In what contexts are digital technologies most effective for learners in this age range? How do these contexts relate to the specific needs of different sub- groups within the age range?
This conclusion speaks loudly of the fact that practice in this area is not well-developed and there are no certainties about the efficacy of particular technology-based approaches. The review provides a framework for the important discussion about the affordances of the new technologies.
The review also provides a good source of data regarding student choices and options at the age of 16 and an analysis of post-school activity.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource are all very high. Futurelab is an independent organisation that draws upon well-qualified and experienced educators and researchers to write their reports.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact:
It is an important observation that, although on face-value, this looks like a report associated with ICT initial teacher education, the report is not orientated towards the ICT curriculum but the use of ICT to support all areas of the curriculum.
This report could be used in three clear ways to reinforce ITE curriculum work in other areas.
After the trainees have been introduced to learning theories, section 2.4 (pages 14 to 17) can be studied to show the pragmatic connections between learning theory, teaching practice and educational policy. There is a consideration of how students’ thinking is changing.
Early in the training programme, trainees are introduced to the concept of learning outcomes. The section 2.5.1 (pages 18-19), based upon the work of Simons (2001, pages 174-175) gives a novel slant on how we can describe learning outcomes – durable, flexible, functional, meaningful, generalisable and application-orientated.
All trainees need to be aware of a range of key issues. The review illustrates some of those including: personalisation (page 24), e-assessment (page 25), contextualised learning (page 26) and reluctant learners (page 28). Discussing those issues in the context of 14-19 agenda gives non-ICT specialists an insight into the current developments in learning technologies.
The first case study is of particular interest to science teacher trainees.
The relevance to ITE students. - how and why it has importance:
This publication is itself not essential reading for a teacher trainee with the burden of learning a great deal about education in a relatively short time. However, the implications of the 14-19 agenda are important and this document is an important one for informing tutors and those trainees making a special study of the issues.
I would recommend that trainees be directed to read the pages identified above but much of the discussion within the publication informs policy and management issues and is outside the needs of those in initial teacher education.
A full reference list is provided (pages 40 to 43).
Dr John Woollard