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Reviewed by Terry Freedman

New Tools for Learning: Accelerated learning meets ICT, John Davitt, ISBN: 1- 85539-131-7.

To buy this from either the USA or UK, go to the reviews section of the ICT in Education website (http://www.ictineducation.org) and click on the appropriate link.

You may be surprised if you look in the index of this book: you won’t find any mention of blogging, podcasting or wiki-ing. But on reflection that is not so surprising at all, because the book is about teaching and learning, not technology as such.

Indeed, as Derek Wise says in one of the quotations liberally sprinkled throughout the book:

The book has a number of strengths, not the least of which is to challenge the reader in a non-threatening way. The author’s approach in this regard can best be exemplified by his advice to anyone setting up an intranet or similar:

“… don’t mention intranets unless it’s going to help understanding or development. Call it a shared area … descriptive but low threat.”

The book contains good ideas for classroom activities and in-service training. As far as the former is concerned, I should have liked to have seen more step- by-step guidance in some areas, such as setting up a radio station. The elements you need are clearly explained, though not necessarily how to manage the process.

Another strength of the book is that it doesn’t insist on using the latest software or hardware in order to achieve something. Indeed, Davitt states that version 4 of Flash was probably the best developed so far in terms of usefulness in the classroom, whilst Microsoft Word is too feature-rich for educational purposes. I especially liked the section on how to put an overhead projector to good use.

The book focuses on different learning styles, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. What educationalists need to be able to do, if they are serious about addressing the needs of students with different learning styles, is to take new developments, such as wikis, and see how they might fit into the VAK framework. Davitt shows how to think about these issues, and provides a particularly useful table which relates intelligence type to software tools and types of activity.

Phrases like “… much of what it foretells will come to pass” lend the book an unfortunate air of superiority which, having read other work by Davitt, and seen his presentations, I am sure was not intended, and the sideswipe a the UK’s inspection body Ofsted ignores the fact that in dire schools the inspector may have been the only person likely to improve learning. Nevertheless, it’s a good resource which, to a large extent, is future-proof.

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