Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Why not "ICT"?

This blog is called “Digital technologies for learning mathematics” and not “ICT for learning mathematics”.  Why the distinction?

The name ‘Information and Communication Technology’ has an impact on how ICT is used in teaching and learning as it implies that the two main uses of technology are for disseminating information and communicating. These two uses of ICT are very important: for example many learners are able to access mathematics through the opportunities for disseminating information and communicating that ICT offers. However, the name Information and Communication Technology can steer teachers down a route where they think ICT’s only roles are for disseminating information and communicating.

Only using technology for disseminating information and communicating overlooks the opportunities that are available, especially using mathematical software, for learners to develop their relational understanding by working in an ICT-environment through exploring, investigating, modelling and programming.  This can result in the overuse of display tools, such as PowerPoint, and miss the huge potential that dynamic software offers.  For example, a dynamic graph that shows the gradient of a tangent to a point as the point changes is a much more powerful learning tool than a static page about differentiation. 

This issue with the name 'ICT' is also evident in a recent report from NCETM on the use of ICT in mathematics where similar reservations with the name are given and the term “digital technologies” is used instead.  I like the term and have adopted it for this blog (but will probably end up using “ICT” a lot as a shorthand!).   The full report (Mathematics and Digital Technologies: New Beginnings) can be viewed at https://www.ncetm.org.uk/files/3399662/NCETMDigitTechReport2010.pdf

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