In Chapter 2 of this volume, on the basis of the most wide-ranging empirical study of its kind, Scott Harrison paints an honest picture of widespread poor practice in the use of ICT in school history teaching. For those of us who have worked extensively in this area, as teachers, as managers, as advisers, as trainers - initial and in-service - and as researchers, this does not come as a surprise. In fact, it is welcome. It confirms the extent of the problem and goes some way towards an analysis of it.
If we are to address some of the problems inherent in unsatisfactory use of ICT in history we will not get far if we look only at ICT. We need to look at rationales for history teaching and how these manifest themselves at the level of teachers' planning. This ought really to be obvious. If we were analysing the reasons for poor history practice and inadequate historical learning generally we would not examine in detail the pens and books, tables and televisions that teachers use. We would look at the hidden connections in the lesson, at teachers' links and emphases between ideas, at the reasons for fluctuation in pupil motivation across different historical activities. We would look at the quality of pupils' historical thinking and how it connected - or otherwise - with teacher conceptions. Puzzlingly, there is a tendency not to do this with ICT. Instead, the DfES sometimes seems to behave as though the holy grail lies in yet more software evaluations ('If only we could get those programmes and packages right … !') or yet more official guidance and example. But I doubt that such teacher-proof solutions are out there.
The fundamental questions about securing quality historical learning for pupils can only really be tackled through an emphasis on: