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The ambiguous embrace: twenty years of IT (ICT) in UK primary schools

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School inspection reports, at the end of the 20th Century, in both Scottish and English primary schools, clearly identify the use of ICT as the weakest aspect of professional practice. On this evidence, despite initial certainty of political purpose and considerable optimism regarding its effects on teaching and learning, ICT remains, after twenty years, a marginal force in the education of 5–12 year–olds. Though numerous research studies in the 1980’s and 1990’s seemed to have identified the conditions for the effective transfer of ICT into primary schools and repeated governmental initiatives invested heavily in both infrastructure and training, teachers have not embraced ICT within their core practice. This paper suggests that the adoption of exclusively rational, perhaps hyper–rational, methodologies, by researchers working in the mainstream of schools and teacher education institutions has resulted in a failure to understand the complex cultural, psychological and political characteristics of schools. Alternative avenues for research are proposed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Paisley, Scotland, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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