This background summarises the evidence base from which the ICT capability’s introduction, organising elements and learning continuum have been developed. It draws on recent international and national research, as well as initiatives and programs that focus on ICT across the curriculum.
ICT capability is based on sets of relevant knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions. Internationally, such capability is typically represented developmentally across interrelated domains or elements to show increasingly sophisticated experiences with the technology. For example, the ICT curriculum for England presents ‘lines of progression’ in strands and sub-strands. The National Education Technology Standards (NETS) for students provided by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) represent capability with six sets of standards. In Australia, the Statements of Learning for ICT were presented as five broadly defined conceptual organisers, representing key aspects of ICT that apply across the curriculum. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has also identified a progression in research associated with the National Assessment Program – ICT Literacy.
Early researchers into ICT in education, such as Papert (1980) and Turkle (1984), considered that students constructed reality from experience and prior knowledge. The student interacts with the environment and, to cope with this environment, develops a conceptual framework to explain the interaction.
More recent theorists, such as Dede (2009), echo these earlier propositions even as technologies evolve, giving rise to the set of constructs upon which the ICT capability is based. In particular, the overarching element Applying social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT addresses the personal, social and cultural contexts introduced by theorists such as Papert and Turkle.
ICT capability is based on the assumption that technologies are digital tools that enable the student to solve problems and carry out tasks. That is, the ICT system needs to suit the student and the task, while the student needs to develop an understanding of what the machine can do and an appreciation of the limitations under which it operates. In this way, students come to perceive ICT systems as useful tools rather than feeling that they themselves are the tools of the machine (Maas 1983). The latter often occurs when users have little information about how ICT systems operate and simply follow set, standard procedures, determined for them by the system.
Therefore, the ICT capability needs to take account of the types of tasks that provide authentic contexts for learning. The range of tasks is categorised into three sets: Investigating with ICT, Communicating with ICT and Creating with ICT. Students also need the knowledge and skills to use ICT based on an understanding of the ‘nature of the machine’. This is encompassed in the Managing and operating ICT element of the continuum.
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