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A systematic review of the impact of networked ICT on 5-16 year olds' literacy in English

What do we want to know?

A large amount of money has been invested in the provision of computers in schools, and many young people are increasingly using them to research, compose and present homework.  However questions remain about the impact of ICT on schooling, and in particular, on literacy learning.  This review investigates the impact of networked technologies - the internet and email - on literacy learning.

Who wants to know?

Policy-makers, those involved in teacher education, professionals, parents and students

What did we find?  

In general, the studies assumed that networked ICT had a positive impact, and explored how that impact was made.  Increased motivation for literacy, empowerment and ownership were considered to be important factors.  Most studies used a narrow, pre-digital conception of literacy.

The results must be considered suggestive rather than conclusive.

What are the implications?

Recommendations must be considered tentative:

  • The provision of hardware and software in schools, and the application of ICT to teaching and learning, need to be informed by research and evaluation.  Both large-scale and small-scale, qualitative and quantitative studies are needed.

  • More attention needs to be given to the ways in which ICT is used in the classroom in support of teaching; teachers need to take more account of the ways in which young people work at home on computers; and ICT needs to be seen as one tool among many for the improvement and support of literacy learning.

How did we get these results?

16 studies were synthesised, of which half were outcome evaluations, seven were process evaluations and one was a needs assessment.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI Centre

This report should be cited as: Andrews R, Burn A, Leach J, Locke T, Low G, Torgerson C (2002). A systematic review of the impact of networked ICT on 5-16 year olds' literacy in English. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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