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A Review of the Impact of ICT on Learning - page 7 / 26





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1. Introduction

It is difficult and maybe even impossible to imagine future learning environments that are not supported, in one way or another, by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). When looking at the current widespread diffusion and use of ICT in modern societies, especially by the young – the so-called digital generation – then it should be clear that ICT will affect the complete learning process today and in the future. Both the Member States and the European Union have dedicated effort and resources to the promotion and implementation of ICT in education and training; and they continue to do so (e.g. the EU eLearning Programme2). It has also been acknowledged by the European Council held in Lisbon on 23 and 24 March 2000 that there is an urgent need to adapt European education and training systems according to the requirements of a knowledge-based society.

There is, in other words, a widespread belief that ICTs have an important role to play in changing and modernising educational systems and ways of learning. There is, however, little scientific evidence of the concrete contributions of ICTs to the learning domain, despite the efforts of the last decades. Hence, there is a need to bring evidence together on the impact of ICT on education and training in Europe. This is the objective of this working paper.

It contains a review of 20 studies and/or reports which provide evidence of the impact of ICT on learning (education and training). These have been mainly selected on the basis of a mix of the following criteria:

  • they review or contain empirical evidence and/or data on ICT and Learning;

  • they focus on Europe; and are recent (from 2004 onwards).

  • they provide visionary accounts of the future of learning.

Overall, the review provided is brief and not exhaustive but focuses on evidence of the impact of ICT on education.

The paper is presented as follows. Section 2 describes the scope for the review and explains the terms used. Section 3 reviews the available evidence on the diffusion of ICT-enabled learning. Section 4 assembles further evidence on the different uses of ICT-enabled learning by educational institutions and within educational settings. Section 5 touches upon teacher training and the impact of ICT, while section 6 deals with e-assessment and the use of e- portfolios. Section 7 discusses the links between ICT-enabled learning and social inclusion. Section 8 summarises views on challenges for learning enabled by future technologies. Section 9 presents the most important messages from the review.

2. Scoping the review

The impact of the ICT on learning can be approached in different ways. There is no single concept of learning through the use of ICT. Many different types can be envisaged: computer- assisted learning, web-learning, computer-classes, online training, distance education, eLearning, virtual learning, digital training, etc. In this review, a broad view on ICT and learning is taken. Consequently, its impact on the learning process should encompass not only traditional learning outcomes but also the use of ICT by teachers (teacher training), the organisational use of ICT by education and training institutions, and, last but not least, the


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