Abstract Information and communication technology (ICT) has increasingly been bringing about significant changes in education in an ongoing process. The educational reform is not a mere technological issue but rather is based on an empirical grounding in a psychological research approach to learning and instruction. This paper introduces the research work on the application of ICT in education from the psychological perspective in China in the past three decades. The introduction focuses on four important issues with systemic theoretical thinking based on continuous empirical research and innovative practices. The first is dialectic constructivism which has offered some dialectic explanation for knowledge, learning and teaching, and balanced various contradictory aspects of learning and teaching. The second is theoretical thinking and instructional practice about the principles of learning environment design which emphasises learners' higher-order thinking, deep understanding, collaboration and self-regulated learning. The third is a model for the effectiveness and conditions of Computer-Assisted Instruction. The fourth is a framework for the integration of ICT and education and a zigzag training model for teacher training for integration.