Pupils' views and experience of ICT in secondary schools
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the focus of a great deal of attention, both in terrns of, policy, its implementation and research. It could be considered the most highly scrutinised of all subjects. For more than 30 years there have been many statements made about its impact on everyday life. Just as ICT has subtly transformed the working practices and communication system of the world, so it has been assured to make an equal, and more obviously positive, impact on the world of education. This thesis explores the impact of ICT on the attitudes, habits and thoughts of pupils in secondary school. Acknowledging the potential, and interest in different programmes, it looks at ICT not as an isolated phenomenon, nor in terms of potential programmes and the efficacy of distance learning, but in the context in which it is used in schools. The thesis is based on exploring the ways in which pupils experience ICT in school rather than in their homes, and how they experience ICT as part of their daily school expenence. The first part of the thesis outlines the history of the impact of Technology, in the context of earlier media, and examines the many assertions of its power and the hopes of the impact of IT. It also traces the many complex ways in which the Information Technology can be used and have an impact, and the various theories that underly its potential. It makes it clear that there is comparatively little empirical research on the impact of ICT in the school context. Research on particular programmes and lessons abounds but not research on the secondary pupils' attitudes and experience as a whole. The methodology used is a mixture of observation, questionnaire and interviews. In such a complex subject it was considered important to use triangulation to explore the impact of ICT; from its uses as part of the school curriculum, to its relationship with, other subjects. The most significant evidence is perhaps, derived from lengthy semi-structures interviews (as well as the questionnaire). Secondary school pupils in years 9 and 10 in six schools (with contrasting socio economic catchments) completed questionnaires and interviews. Whilst the thesis explores many aspects of the pupils' experience of ICT it does so in the context of day-to-day school life. The central point is however, the ways in which pupils think of school life generally, and the impact of ICT within this context. Any disappointment with any lack of fulfilment of the great hopes of ICT is perhaps explained by of how schools are run as institutions. They perhaps have not changed in any radical way to accommodate the new technology. The acceptance of the inevitability of computers, and their use in systems of communication (and the pleasure at home) is matched by the acceptance that school is an experience demonstrated by its social rather than academic aspects, in which ICT is just another lesson.