Critical reflections on the benefits of ICT in education

BY: Livingstone

In both schools and homes, information and communication technologies (ICT) are widely seen as enhancing learning, this hope fuelling their rapid diffusion and adoption throughout developed societies. But they are not yet so embedded in the social practices of everyday life as to be taken for granted, with schools proving slower to change their lesson plans than they were to fit computers in the classroom. This article examines two possible explanations – first, that convincing evidence of improved learning outcomes remains surprisingly elusive, and second, the unresolved debate over whether ICT should be conceived of as supporting delivery of a traditional or a radically different vision of pedagogy based on soft skills and new digital literacies. The difficulty in establishing traditional benefits, and the uncertainty over pursuing alternative benefits, raises fundamental questions over whether society really desires a transformed, technologically-mediated relation between teacher and learner.

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