Information and Communications Technology (ICT) may be a term that has only become popular in the past few years, but the notion of ICT has a long history within the teaching and learning of geography. The use of ICT as a tool for teachers and learners has never had such prominence and is something that must be addressed by all phases of education, reaching across formal and informal education. Despite the importance of the technology, there are many issues for all geographers, ranging from access to the technology, to identifying its effective use and application. More importantly it could be claimed that ICT is changing geography continually, be it in the patterns of work that geographers study or the formal understanding of how the subject can and should be taught. Another key issue is that 'half-life' of change within the technology, which means that new teaching and learning opportunities appear at an ever increasing rate and this has considerable implications for the initial training and continuing professional development of teachers.
There is a huge range of opportunities for enhancing the teaching and learning of geography and discussion often concentrates on these benefits. However, there are also many ways that ICT can support teachers in the execution of their professional duty, which can improve the teaching and learning process, the teachers' efficiency or their activity behind the scenes. The big questions for all involved in geography is how can the issues which restrict the use of ICT be overcome and when they are, how can ICT be integrated effectively to enhance geography? Finally, will ICT have any fundamental impact on the subject itself?
Many teachers have managed to teach effectively for years without using ICT, so why bother? This is a question that has been asked many times and for which there is a range of answers. There is a considerable body of research (NCET 1994) which has looked at a wide range of factors, which can be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. Research has shown that the learning process can be improved in a number of ways: