Futurelab free handbooks: digital literacy and innovation

Futurelab are offering free access to digital editions of some of their digital literacy and innovation handbooks. This offer includes:

  • Futures Thinking Teachers PackFutures Thinking Teachers Pack

    Increasingly, collaboration is seen as important in creative learning. This handbook sets out some recommendations for ways in which digital technologies could be designed and used to support creative collaboration in the classroom.

    This free resource supports teachers and learners to develop approaches to exploring the future that are not about making predictions, but about considering possible, probable and preferable futures in order to support action and decision making in the present.

    pdf version (pdf, 2.9MB)

    • () (pdf, 1MB)

    May 2010

  • digital literacyDigital literacy across the curriculum

    March 2010

    This handbook introduces educational practitioners to the concepts and contexts of digital literacy and supports them in developing their own practice aimed at fostering the components of digital literacy in classroom subject teaching and in real school settings.

  • Home-school relationships handbookDeveloping the home-school relationship using digital technologies

    March 2010

    This handbook introduces key issues around home-school relationships to provide schools with a framework in which to consider how to support these relationships, and how to navigate the challenges afforded by the use of digital technologies in this field.

  • Thinking SpaceThinking Space

    January 2010

    This workshop resource aims to support people who are thinking about, or currently undertaking, redesign and rebuild projects. It provides a set of activities, tools and techniques that can be used to facilitate workshop sessions.

    pdf version

  • Digital inclusion handbookUsing digital technologies to promote inclusive practices in education

    April 2009

    This handbook provides educators with guidance on using digital technologies to promote inclusive practices, case studies of current practice, and a directory of resources.

  • Curriculum and teaching innovationCurriculum and teaching innovation

    April 2009

    Aimed at educational leaders involved in curriculum and teaching innovation, this handbook provides guidance for exploring the potential of personalisation to transform curriculum design and teaching practices.

  • Reimagining outdoor learning spaces handbookReimagining outdoor learning spaces

    January 2009

    This handbook focuses on the use and utility of outdoor space for play and learning, and aims to support those thinking about redesigning their outdoor spaces as part of the Primary Capital Programme or other initiatives.

  • Promoting transformative innovation in schoolsPromoting transformative innovation in schools

    November 2008

    This handbook aims to offer evidence, insights, ideas and recommendations that can be built upon to support and nurture a culture of transformative innovation within education.

  • Designing educational technologies for social justiceDesigning educational technologies for social justice

    April 2008

    This handbook explores the role that digital technologies can play in reducing inequality in education, and offers guidance on designing resources or projects to promote social justice.

  • Learning with handheld technologiesLearning with handheld technologies

    December 2006

    A guide for those considering handheld technologies for teaching and learning purposes, with case studies illustrating the potential of handheld technology for learning, and a wide survey of projects in this area.

  • Learner voiceLearner voice

    August 2006

    Despite the vast number of changes in education in recent years, learners are seldom consulted and remain largely unheard in the change process. If education is to become more personalised, then learners must be heard.

  • Games and learning (Myst image courtesy of Cyan Inc)Games and learning

    October 2005

    There’s an increasing interest in the potential role of computer and video games to support young people’s learning, and recent studies have begun to ask how games might be used or adapted for use in schools. This handbook reports on some of the latest developments.

  • Building collaboration between designers and researchersBuilding collaboration between designers and researchers

    April 2005

    How can research on teaching and learning be used to improve the design of e-content? This report uses case studies to illustrate a range of collaborations; a directory of educational researchers is also available.

  • Designing with usersDesigning educational technologies with users

    September 2004

    There is concern about the separation between developers of digital educational resources and those who use them – teachers and learners. This handbook suggests ways in which the communities might work together to create more effective and relevant resources.

  • Creativity and collaboration handbookDesigning technologies to support creativity and collaboration

August 2004

Certainly worth a look. Just beware that the print versions do cost, so look for the free digital downloads.


Mapping innovations in education, Futurelab UK’s educationeye website is an engaging site for educators.


Futurelab explains what educationeye is all about:

Education Eye is a free, engaging and easy-to-use online space that gives access to a wide range of exciting, relevant and useful innovations which are selected from the best of the web and updated daily.

The Eye provides a way to discover, explore and share new ideas. It maps hundreds of the top educational websites, forums and practitioner case studies. With additional features like saving your own favourite innovations, Futurelab’s favourites, customisable email digests and a widget version, it’s invaluable for exploring educational innovations.

Users don’t have to subscribe to the website, however a free subscription opens further resources. Daily updates is a useful feature for keeping up with what is new and relevant to learning and teaching.

Gaming and Families

Recently the UK’s Futurelab organisation published a report about ‘the benefits and risks to children’s wellbeing and learning associated with playing computer games.’ As most of us either have children or relatives who are children who play computer games and/or are considering introducing or have introduced gaming into schools, this report will be of interest.

questions addressed included:

  • What role do computer games play in the social, leisure and informal learning activities of families (parents and their children)?
  • What are the attitudes and perceptions of family members towards the benefits and risks of playing computer games?
  • How can we support parents and their children to appreciate and understand the benefits and risks associated with playing computer games?

Three documents outlining the project and results are available.

One of the key findings was

Parents and young people, that is, those aged 5-15, perceived that there were benefits to playing video games as a family, with the main motivation being enjoyment.

The important aspect of this is communication and connectedness within the family for building and maintaining good relationships. This should be applicable to school as well.

Digital Particpation

The UK’s FutureLab organisation have produced two informative videos on digital participation in schools.

Running at just over 7 and 9 minutes each, the videos look at incorporating technology into the curriculum in primary and secondary schools respectively.

The most interesting aspect is that students appear on camera to give their feedback on what they had been learning and why they liked using specific technologies. Teachers explain how teaching styles were different and how students excelled by using technologies not normally used is the classroom. The fact of students using technologies outside of the classroom (at home) was also acknowledged.

Components of digital literacies such as

  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking and evaluation
  • Cultural and social understanding
  • Collaboration
  • Finding and selecting information
  • Effective communication
  • E-safety
  • Functional skills

were discussed. Well worth viewing.


Futurelab: is a not-for-profit group from the United Kingdom. Their goal is innovation in education and their website states:

Who are we and what we do

Futurelab is passionate about transforming the way people learn. Tapping into the huge potential offered by digital and other technologies, we develop innovative resources and practices that support new approaches to learning for the 21st century. A not-for-profit organisation, we work in partnership with others to:

Futurelab homepage
Futurelab homepage

Futurelab has a range of resources for educators. There are pages on:

  • projects (includes research data)
  • resources
  • events

Some of the projects include Games and learning, Design challenge and Innovate to educate.

Games and learning
Games and learning

Futurelab is a portal to all things innovative in education. Well worth a visit and reflection on how these ideas could be used in our classrooms. Not all projects are current, but the ones that have been completed are usually accompanied by research data and reports on the efficacy of the project.