Schools and school systems have been using ICT for more than two decades to address goals ranging from the teaching of programming to increasing participation in distance education to supporting language-acquisition in early childhood. Over the course of this period, advances in hardware, software, and networking have amplified the potential that ICT holds for schools. Concurrently, the influence of systemic factors—including curricula, teacher capacity, infrastructure, and assessment—has become clearer, and has shaped both achievements and expectations. The ideas and practices identified in this section appear at this time to be gaining currency among educators and education systems worldwide. However, successful implementation of these practices is tightly linked to resources, including financial and human resources within education systems and national infrastructure, private sector capacity, and attitudes about knowledge and technology. In some cases, such as the use of networks to centralize maintenance, provision of learning resources, and data management, the virtues of a specific model may only outweigh the costs in infrastructure-rich environments.

Several of the technologies and models that are emerging at this time are unproven. Others require specific circumstances, such as highly trained teachers or authentic-assessment practices, to be deployed successfully. However, some or all of the trends identified in this section have the potential to be adopted or adapted by developing-country school systems. Trends and innovations cited in this section are focused on primary and secondary education: Global use of ICT in tertiary education has proliferated in both developed and developing countries to an extent that places it beyond the scope of this report.

Trends in curriculum, teaching, and learning: Primary and secondary school

Accompanying the acceptance of ICT as an educational tool in developing countries, there has been increasing focus on the interactions of ICT and teaching and learning. Although learning to use ICT remains the most prevalent use of ICT in schools, a shift in favor of the use of computers and the Internet to support activities intended to build complex and higher-order skills is taking place. Many factors influence this shift, but these factors may be effectively organized around the linkage of education policy to workforces prepared to contribute to a globalizing world economy

Collaborative online projects

Student-to-student online collaboration has been one of the more common methods of ICT integration by early adopters in schools. Students in developed countries have taken advantage of the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with others using email and the Internet. Beginning at least as early as 1996, with the World Links pilot project in Uganda, students in developing countries have been collaborating with other students in both the North and the South. E-mail collaboration serves as a low-barrier point of entry to the use of ICT to support learning in a range of subjects: E-mail tools are relatively simple to use and require lower bandwidth Internet connections; use of email, as opposed to the Web, minimizes need for teacher guidance and site pre-selection, and maximizes students’ time on task; and e-mail-based collaboration complements local small-group collaboration, reducing barriers to active learning.

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