Why was it Changed to ICT?

In the world at large it’s called IT (Information Technology) but in UK Education it was referred to as ICT (Information and Communications Technology).

Many people were confused by this and to find the answer we need to go back to 1996 when Tony Blair and David Blunkett were still in opposition and John Major's Conservative government was in power. Blair and Blunkett felt sure that the next election would bring a victory for New Labour and as it turned out they were right. 

Anticipating that they would soon be in government, they commissioned a study to look into the use of computers in schools in order to plan what actions to take. The job was given to Sir Denis Stevenson and it was he who put the “C” into “ICT”. 

Sir Denis stated that IT was having such a profound influence on communications (think of mobile phones, networks, the Internet and digital television) that it really wasn't just “information” technology any more and that the communications element had assumed immense importance. He decided that it should be called “information and communications” technology (ICT). There was much debate about whether to add the “C” or not. In the end the education community in the UK did but everyone else didn't.

You can still read the entire report on line at http://rubble.ultralab.net/stevenson/

Of greater importance was what the report actually said. Everyone anticipated that it might say something like “things aren't too bad”, or perhaps "some improvement is needed".

In fact, when it came out the report contained a profound finding. It said that if something wasn't done to improve the use of new technology in education, Great Britain would soon be in serious difficulties! The actual words the report contained were:

“The state of ICT in our schools is primitive and not improving”

“We believe it to be a national priority to increase the use of ICT in our schools”

 - Stevenson Report 1997

The incoming government accepted the report in its entirety and began an extensive programme of improvements in the use of ICT in all schools and from then until September 2014 the school subject was known as “ICT”.

Next: What Went wrong?


© Brian Smith 2015