What are the historical debates outlined in Wellington that you still observe in your own educational setting?

Writing in 2005, Wellington made pertinent points, noting incongruity between ICT use and learning outcomes. Some of these concerns are still prevalent and needing attention.

Preparing students for their future is still a feature of educational rhetoric. The introduction to the 2016 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards states:

It’s not about using digital tools to support outdated education strategies and models; it’s about tapping into technology’s potential to amplify human capacity for collaboration, creativity and communication.

This motivation to refocus education technology from digital tools to broader skills is aligned with Wellington’s warning about “situated cognition” (2005).  Desiring a shift from a narrow, skills-based approach, current ideologies also emphasise the need for soft skills – problem solving, creativity, collaboration, empathy, adaptivity (Crockett, 2013) – skills which may transfer to new and evolving circumstances.

Many schools and systems still focus on gaining a body of information (Wellington 2005) and testing students’ memory rather the application and transference of understanding to demonstrate higher order thinking – the “grammar of schooling” (Tyack & Cuban, 1995) that Wellington sites, where content-driven curriculum and standardised testing “straight jacket” (Wellington, 2005) teachers and schools into compliance can still inhibit transformative use of ICT.

To what extent do you think past policies such as the Digital Education Revolution and current policies such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or your own local policies address these debates?

Wellington (2005) and Bain and Weston (2012) cite concerns about the discontinuity between home and school and the limitations of ICT use outside of IT lessons, however in the schools I have worked in since the Digital Education Revolution, these issues have largely been addressed by the introduction of 1-to-1. Cloud-based systems and BYOD have further provided a seamless integration for technology between home and school. Further again, the capacity for independent learning online is a growing affordance – a number of my own Digital Technology students have independently taught themselves to program robots or code websites and my own kids have taught themselves to play guitar via YouTube or to speak Swedish via DuoLingo. Providers of online learning (often free of charge) and peer learning have changed the paradigm (Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011).

To what extent do you experience some of the faulty assumptions about ICT in schools/educational settings and how do these manifest?

Putting technology into the hands of every student and teacher does not revolutionise teaching and learning. The authors’ observation that money was spent on technology without evidence of a significant impact on teaching and learning (Bain and Weston, 2012; Wellington, 2005) is consistent with my experience during the rollout of 1-to-1 where largely, students researched digital encyclopedias and regurgitated information into digital notebooks. However, my subsequent schools demonstrate the benefit of hindsight. I had opportunity to work in a new school with a pedagogical focus on creative and collaborative processes, using ICT to transform learning through interactive and diversified learning experiences and my current school, whilst in some respects traditional and challenged by ingrained practice, has invested in staff roles to lead and encourage the integration of rich learning opportunities using ICT.

As alluded to by Wellington (2005), it is imperative that educational leaders continue to question purpose and practice of ICT integration – what is the value? Is there a tangible impact? Amongst the ongoing analysis, support for teachers to adapt curriculum and develop skills for effective integration is important; however as Bain and Weston (2012) contend, professional learning initiatives have often missed the mark. Perhaps of more impact is the access to and sharing of self-initiated learning through broad professional networks and ongoing coaching (Nussbaum-Beach 2012).


Bain, A., & Weston, M. E. (2012). Education and technology. In The learning edge: what technology can do to educate all children (pp. 1-24). New York, NY. Teachers College Press.

Crockett, L. (2013). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8DEeR1sraA

International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). Retrieved from ISTE http://www.iste.org/standards/standards.

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Introduction: The power of networked learning. In Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Tyack, D. & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia. Cambridge MA and London Harvard University Press.

Wellington, J. (2005)., Has ICT come of age? Recurring debates on the role of ICT in education, 1982-2004. Research In Science & Technological Education, 23(1), 25-39.