Missed opportunities and educational time-bombs. A tale of the tortuous history of ICT in education, illustrating where the real impact from ICT lies. (and an index of the stories of the impact of ICT, available or in preparation)

These stories were written in 2012. They are being progressively revisited and revised. Revised stories are now in Digital Teachers, Digital Learners and Digital Schools. Many of these insights gained in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s are still very relevant today. Stories without a link are yet to be written.

Change in Human Interactions is the Message - an Introduction to these writings and where real impact lies, with some uncomfortable conclusions: - The disparity of educational offering between schools is now huge and is going to get worse before it gets better. - We have two kinds of teacher, those who have become seriously more effective as teachers through use of ICT and those that haven’t. - Pupils with good home access to ICT and those who attend primary schools where it is used effectively are a time bomb for secondary schools not using ICT well. - Parents will soon become aware of the disparity in educational offering and there will be anger.
No hiding place - When schools implement an online platform many aspects of what teachers and pupils are doing become much more visible and explicit. There is no hiding place; no way to hide from seeing what effective learning and teaching is and no way for an individual to hide how well they are engaging with the business of the school - promoting learning as effectively as possible.

Power with safety in learning
 - ICT-rich learning environments with access to the Internet dramatically extend the possible learning horizons for young people. When they leave school they will be expected by society and their employers to use these learning opportunities. Some schools acknowledge this and help their pupils towards this future, others schools fight against it with all their presumed authority, that will inevitably be subverted.

Tools for the job of learning 
- You would not expect a carpenter to shape wood without chisels, saws and drills. The computer is the key tool (beyond speaking, reading/writing and numerical ability) that enables people to shape their learning. It provides tools to better access information and concepts, tools to overcome learning obstacles, and tools to extend thinking processes.

Learning about the key tool for learning - Tools used for learning have in-built bias that it is wise to be aware of. Computers are no different in this respect. But we so accept paper that we are blind to the bias it brings to how education and learning happen.

New tools, new learning 
- If you can’t see what is happening it is very hard to learn about it. The ways in which computers can access, receive, manipulate and present data generates information from which pupils can gain insight. Practically, think about what tools such as data-loggers, mind-maps, simulations, GIS and CAD systems can do to improve visualisation and learning conversations.

Communication reigns The difficulties of storing information in previous centuries dictated how information was presented and accessed. Particularly, the book and its associated systems such as alphabetical indexes and footnotes came to dominate. Digital, hyper-linked information changes all that. A website or interactive DVD can guide interaction by users on the basis of the questions they want to ask and will present information in the way the designer has decided it should, for that audience. Communication of the information now has primacy over its organisation.

Imagination before learning 
- If you cannot imagine something you cannot talk about it or learn about it. Computers, like gears, have made visible new systems that can now be used as thinking tools for learning. Juggling multiply-related information in one’s mind is hard; hyper-linking it in a website makes it concrete. Programming teaches new approaches to problem solving and rigour in problem analysis. Modelling produces representations that can be worked on from data it was previously impossible for most human beings to analyse.

Hearing AND seeing 
- In a well designed website there are seven separate levels of information and communication with the user. Interaction can be guided and enhanced in very subtle ways. Computers can provide instant feedback and can suggest and prompt. Learning is often easier when it is possible to hear, to read, to visualise, to discuss and to manipulate, using the channels available to the brain to the full.

Assessment FOR learning - Assessment is feedback on how well you are learning and the difference between one’s own achievement and what is possible. The methods available to provide this feedback to learners have multiplied many-fold with computers, compared to what was possible without them.

Pace and ‘flow’ 
- A learner’s brain works at its own speed. Even very small time delays in getting what the brian wants can disrupt learning while inability to go back on a point can break the construction of knowledge. At its best a state of ‘flow’ can be achieved with the learner totally engaged, questions their brain poses being answered and challenged in tune with their own thinking. Computers, used individually and collaboratively provide numerous ways to work on this, from the simple freeze-frame possibilities of video to approaches such as ‘wiki-wars’.

Interaction in class 
- A school class is not just a convenient sized group to child-mind, it is a group of people who can help each other learn. Teachers know well how to construct experiences that will help the group interact, and the individuals within it learn. But it has always been a challenge to get all in a group to engage and be involved. ICT can make a radical difference, whether it is through a 4D immersive environment, interactive whiteboards and voting systems, or a simple little computer-based tool like a random name selector.

Publishing and audience 
- The greater the audience the bigger the applause - or the jeers and boos. But almost everyone wants an audience, from one’s teddy bear, family, friends through to strangers and people you admire. Before computers possible audiences - and what you could publish to them - were limited. Now publishing and audience can match what the learner desires and needs to progress creatively.

Teacher and school collaboration 
- teaching, as it has been done for the last hundred years, has been a lonely business. With your class in your classroom for set amounts of time self-reliance has been everything. Collaboration with other teachers has come second. With the learning experiences now made possible with ICT the situation in some schools has reversed, collaboration coming first, and one’s self reliance depending on the effectiveness of collaboration.

One per child It is inevitable that in a few years all secondary school age pupils will have their own pocket personal computer and all primary school children, if they don’t have one will aspire to one. Since first engaging with the concept of ‘One Per Child’ the economic, technical and human imperatives have been clear. The benefits have also been extensively explored in numerous projects. With all the learning opportunities this brings, why would schools hesitate in moving to this inevitable future?

Immersive environments
 - Early learning happens for most immersed in their family. Then immersion in primary school permits some new freedoms and brings some new constraints. Secondary school and becoming a teenager widens the range of environments a young person can engage with. They are not necessarily the same person in these different environments. It is possible to adopt different personae for different environments, with different willingness to risk learning. There are dangers here as well as opportunities, but online immersive environments can no longer be ignored.

Village to world. 
- one has little choice over one’s learning community in early years but as soon as access to the Internet is available the choice is wider than it ever has been. Recognising the informal learning of young people, and formal learning they decide to engage in themselves, is a challenge for schools. The education system in the UK does not support this well. Yet evidence is emerging that learning can be more effective online, better still if online can be blended with some social learning.

Informed citizens and learning 
- the concept of a curriculum implies that the state and teachers know best what young people should learn. ICT by opening diverse educational opportunities can change this. ICT also provides the possibility for schools and parents to embrace this. The journey in learning is from immature learner to mature learner and people reach this stage at different ages. What should the curriculum be for young people with a mature view of what they need to learn?

Data-led education 
- teachers subjectively use huge amounts of information in scaffolding the learning of their pupils. Most of this information is observed and not recorded. Increasing use of digital communication and online platforms potentially records what previously was not and makes masses of more data available about learning processes. Computers can also comparatively analyse and present information on learning and achievement. For a profession so concerned with information it is remarkable how little data is used to improve schools and the learning of individual pupils. The key question is what kind of ‘business intelligence’ matters most in education.