Crawford, Roger (1999) Teaching and learning IT in English state secondary schools: towards a new pedagogy? Journal of Education and Information Technologies: Official journal of the IFIP technical committee, 4 (1). pp. 49-63. ISSN 1360-2357

New Technologies, particularly Information and Communications Technologies ICTs), have caused profound changes throughout society. A generation of children is emerging that are familiar with multidimensional, interactive media sources that provide immediate juxtaposition and association of diverse images, often originating in widely disparate cultures. They are already immersed in a multimedia 'data storm' (Moshell, 1995). Their understandings and expectations of the world are mediated through their experiences of multimedia and ICTs, and these differ widely from those of preceding generations nourished on linear technologies that separate images and concepts more widely over time, distance and culture. Educating these children using models of teaching and learning that are grounded in concepts of knowing and understanding that are linear and finite will not help them succeed in a technological, global future where multidisciplinary, holistic approaches predominate.

The conflict between the traditional and the new in English state secondary schools is particularly intense in the teaching and learning of Information Technology (IT). Whilst HMI and OFSTED recommend the teacher centred, whole class, didactic teaching strategies that dominate traditional schooling in subjects such as Mathematics, teachers of IT can find these recommendations difficult to put into practice. Teaching and learning IT are inherently constructivist activities, and IT teachers who attempt to implement learning programmes designed from predominantly behaviourist perspectives quickly find that these are less effective. A new pedagogy is needed that is theoretically sound; and that guides teachers in using constructivist approaches within an education system grounded in an inimical behaviourist paradigm.

This paper takes tentative steps towards an understanding of some of the problems and a resolution of some of the issues. For the present, IT teachers may be well advised to take pragmatic, minimalist approaches in developing constructivist strategies to teaching and learning IT. A synthesis of current understandings is attempted as this may be helpful in the short term.

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