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The importance of ICT

Little girls at computer
Information and communication technology (ICT) is such an integral part of our lives that it is embedded right across the curriculum. Crispin Andrews looks at its importance.

What is ICT?

Growing up in an ICT-rich environment means that children need to have opportunities to experience and develop skills in its use that will help them make the most of adult life. Contrary to what we often think, ICT isn't simply about computers but includes anything that requires the input of instructions to produce specific outcomes. That's your answering machine, mobile phone, DVD player, washing machine, traffic lights and even speed cameras.

ICT in schools

Computing capability is an essential skill for life and enables learners to participate more readily in a rapidly changing world. Using the internet and email, for example, gives them rapid access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures.

Learning about control systems and robots increases children's awareness of many of the operating systems we use to manage our everyday lives. You could say that it develops essential life skills they will need in adult life, such as operating a washing machine and other devices.

ICT is incorporated into practically every lesson your child participates in at school, with the exception of physical education. In secondary school, children will typically have ICT classes that are lessons in their own right.

Using software at home

Since ICT can be so beneficial children ideally need access to high quality technology when they want it, not just for a few hours a week in the classroom. If possible, using software at home is ideal and can help parents become more aware of and involved in what their children are learning at school.

  • Speak to your child's school in order to find out how the software can support and extend their learning. Certain aspects may be more useful than others at particular times and teachers will be able to give you an accurate indication of what your child's learning needs are and also what aspects of the curriculum are being studied when in school.
  • Find out what your child hopes to achieve through using ICT. You don't want to control what they are doing and exploring its potential is always useful. But for them to benefit fully it is important to maintain a specific learning focus.
  • Use common sense to gauge what your child is enjoying and finding beneficial. Help them decide what is good for them and to work out when they need to move on to something different.

Whatever stage of learning your child is at, ICT can help motivate stimulate or if necessary, re-engage them. Challenging tasks become more manageable and mundane activities more accessible. Some schools also find that children reach higher levels when technology is made a part of lessons.

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