How can I improve my use of ICT? Put history first!


By Dave Atkin, published 10th May 2000

What is the difference between using lots of ICT and using it well? Dave Atkin draws upon work in his own department and with other Gloucestershire teachers in order to identify criteria for effective ICT use. These boil down to ‘putting history first' and getting maximum value out of the ICT. This is not the same as using gimmicky, whizzy tricks, nor about using ICT as much as possible for the sake of it. It is about thinking hard about what pupils find difficult in history and how ICT can help. The usual suspects emerge: framing high quality historical questions, teaching pupils to speculate in systematic and historical ways, the creation of interesting and worthwhile puzzles for pupils to solve and clarity about the historical concepts being taught. Those who have worked with Dave Atkin on in-service training will know that he also emphasises (and models) energetic, lively, proactive teaching, never leaving the pupils to drift on low-level, purely descriptive or empty, fact-grubbing tasks. He uses highly structured teaching to create independent learners. He also draws heavily on the BECTA research into Calder High and Hampstead schools. The experiences of these two history departments show how the principles behind the original NCET/HA materials - now made popular through the HA's NOF training package - can work effectively in contrasting history departments. Chipping Camden's experience is similar to that of Calder High and Hampstead in that ICT and history teachers work together to build professional knowledge through careful, subject-sensitive evaluation of their practice.

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