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General Chat Thread, Help - computer weekly article in General; There was an article in either last weeks or this weeks computer weekly about IT teaching in schools - basically ...
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    mattx's Avatar
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    Help - computer weekly article

    There was an article in either last weeks or this weeks computer weekly about IT teaching in schools - basically someone going on about how its not diverse enough and that more needed to be bought on programming as those skills are lacking etc etc....
    Now as I have lost my copy and cannot find the article on their website. I was wondering if someone else spotted it and if so could either post a link to it or scan it in for everyone else to read.
    [ I want it to show a few IT people ]

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    I think this must be what your looking for:

    www.computerweekly.com/217837

    Actually ignore that - on reading the article the link at the end does not lead to an electronic version of it.

    I'll type it up in a bit.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    School syllabus holds back our future coders, says MP

    The next generation of programmers are being held back by a lack of relevant courses in schools, according to a liberal democrat MP.

    MP for Southport John Pugh said school syllabuses did not encourage pupils to get involved in higher-level IT skills, such as programming.

    "The education system seems to be putting a high emphasis on the ability to work at a low level with well-known applications," he said. "Years ago, IT syllabuses in schools used to be full of sophisticated educational schemes, including programming".

    Pugh said the focus on well known applications was a good thing, in that computer skills gain prominence, but it holds back British innovation. "We want to develop the people who will create the applications of the future," he said.

    "In India and China they are doing far more challenging work inside and outside of schools. I would like more programmers coming from the UK, rather than India and China."

    "To have a classroom of people who can do a PowerPoint presentation does not convince me that the future of British software engineering is safe. We cannot afford to have a nation of people who are allegedly IT proficient, but actually only have a simple know-how in Microsoft applications"

    The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said GCSE's and A-Levels were designed to encourage students to become "discerning users of ICT with an appreciation of the range of systems and their applications, as well as their capabilities and limitations".

    A spokesperson said "These are general qualifications and they are not intended primarily to train students in the use of specific hardware, software or programming languages, but to understand the principles on which they are all based. However, A-Level computing courses do contain a significant focus on programming and the understanding of hardware.

    "There is also a wide range of vocational qualifications available to young people who want to develop more specific skills for a career in ICT. These can be offered through modern apprenticeship programmes and other employer led training programmes.

    "Specific technical skills, such as programming or in-depth training on proprietary software products, may form a part of such programmes, depending on the specific needs of learners and employers involved."

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    Thanks for that - appreciate it.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    Programming is probably a concept well above the heads of most of our Microsoft Office Training Providers. *cough*, I mean ICT Teachers.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    I think I see, and agree with, what he's getting at, but I doubt GCSE or A-level courses in "computer programming" are going to help. The main problem seems to be that the educational establishment can't get their heads around how easy computer programming actually is. You have a few operators that add numbers or text together, conditional statements and loops of various kinds. That's programming - children can pick that stuff up in no time. The skillfull part of programming is in being able to state a problem from a given description, and being able to figure some way around it with the tools at your disposal. That and maths, of course - lots and lots of maths. The rest of "programming" as a job simply involves knowing a bunch of APIs, or what certain tools can do - dull and tedious stuff that there's no point in teaching children.

    Getting children used to being able to state a problem and think around how to fix it is a far more valuable skill. Computer programming is simply a good example of how to codify algorythms and solutions to stated problems - programming is a tool to help solve problems, not a point in itself. Teach children Logo/Pascal/Scheme/SmallTalk/<insert favoured teaching language here> at primary age, then give them enough freedom to be able to to have a go at writing a computer program to help them solve questions later on. They can pick up computer programming later at university level if they want.

    For those that don't want to go on to university, let's quit with the pretense that A-level ICT teaches anything particularly useful and instead let pupils pick-and-choose a number of short (half-term length?) modules teaching specific types of software, or even particular vendor's software. Give them a certificate at the end of each one, then they can go to an employer and show them exactly what they can do.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    We used to do it at our place then stopped, but I am trying to convince them to bring it back in as they are hampering a level students uni applications, especially those that wish to go on to do computing at Uni which we have a few of every year. Talking to a few tutors from unis they all say just 12 months experience of programming, not even knowing it all cover to cover or anything like that, will significantly help with the 1st year of the course and help reduce the number of dropouts they get.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    Problem is that 90% of students have no interest in 'computer sciences" that is evident in crisis that universities are going through with falling numbers in computer science courses.

    Issue here is little Dave who wants to work in marketing who has not interest in programming be excluded from getting valid ict skills such as presentation skills which is going to help a lot more than learning to program in VB.net.

    What I do agree is there needs to be more opportunity for students who wish to do scientific side of computer studies this is where to coin a government phrase personalised learning side comes in.

    Anyway ICT should be about critical ict thinking and not just pure skills.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    But if some form of programming is not part of any ICT curriculum how will they know they don't like it? At least give them the opportunity to try it.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    a[John wrote:]
    > Talking to a few tutors from unis they all say just 12 months experience
    > of programming, not even knowing it all cover to cover or anything like
    > that, will significantly help with the 1st year of the course

    But the A-level ICT curriculum doesn't teach programming, and nor should it. A-level ICT isn't for anyone going on to do a computer science or similar degree, it's for people going on to do other degrees who want a bit of knowledge of ICT so they know how to interact with it in their career (how to specify IT systems to the people building them, how to work with and manage IT specialists), or for people not going on to do a degree and who want something to help them gain a job (although I reckon more specilised certificates would help those people more). A-level maths is for people going on to do computer science - there's plenty of computer programming opportunities in that.

    I think we're both saying pretty much the same thing here - more people need to do computer programming. I think a whole specialised A-level in it is too much, too late. The whole of computer programming can be summed up as "know what a function is". If children are taught programming at primary level as a basic thinking skill then they'll always have the option of using a computer to help them solve problems in their later studies. If we spend out time convincing pupils that programming is something difficult, that only the cleverest of grown-ups can do, then no wonder so many of them don't have enough experience of programming by the time they get to university.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    Programming is introduced in Year 6 in Unit 6C (Control and Monitoring).

    But with the emphasis on Maths/English/Science SATs it can easily get missed and without keen or knowledgeable teachers/support staff, the programming side can be sidelined.

    With the introduction of Scratch, I think there is a good chance of getting some useful teaching resources over the next year.

    I've introduced it to a few classes but what's needed is some structured lessons to give to teachers and get them hooked into using it.

    I've tried a simple Traffic Light Sequence (A,B and C) out with a few classes and they latched onto it pretty well

    regards

    Simon
    PS I'm planning on being truely subversive and teach my Year 6 class Octal, then Binary- then how to implement a full adder (because come Armegeddon someone will have to build computers from scratch again! )

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    I have to add the oldies comment here. I did Computer Science in the early 80s and we did programming to quite a large extent. In BASIC of course, but that was a requirement (that and I did enjoy it being a ZX81 owner).
    Modern ICT subject are closer to the 'Office Skills' course that was run back when I did Computer Science.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    With the right options within A Level ICT Teaching you can still do the touchy feely playing with computers as well as the nitty gritty of programming, how to build them, how they work etc. Modules make life great in this area, Edexcel had about 24 modules you could choose from, including one on programming when I sat it, its a good thing to do, 6 modules for the A2 single award or 12 for dual. Giving plenty of scope for flexiblity, just schools don't want to make them flexible they just do the easy way out for them IE Lets play with Powerpoint and do units on Data Presentation, and anything else that revolves around MS Office (Or open office if you use that) so its not right, modules are there for a reason to allow everyone to do good things.

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    September last year I went from student to staff, so I went through all this, in one short year... the whole course I did has been completely reversed.


    I work at the school I went to now, because it's a really nice place, but still...

    When I did GCSE, I did Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Frontpage and CorelDraw. All of which I dislike (2007 is nice though...)

    When I did A-level, I did Word, Excel, Access, an Exam (in word on how IT is used in business - whoopy!), FrontPage (with javascript) and something else...

    I also did a second A-Level, a technical one, which did Hardware in a PC, Teaching a lesson(?), Simple networking, User support, VB Programming(Express is free :/) and again - something I can't remember...



    Now, when I wander through lessons.. At GCSE you can play with Lego Mindstorms robots, FrontPage is now Dreamweaver w/ Flash. Some other things changed too - Even Year 7's are learning Flash! now.

    A level is really ranked up too - but that might be because I suggested that if the brief requires suggesting a full list of hardware to setup a network on £40k switches, cables, NIC's, server(s) etc, when it comes to doing it, why not actually do it? (so they do...)

    I say it is ranked up... a student doing it asked me if ActionScript is a programming language... to which I replied not really... I mean is it? Could you actually teach a class of students that need to write an application in ActionScript?

    I find it so much more interesting just walking through a lesson listening to them actually learn about something fun, interesting and to a larger extent, something useful.


    The biggest issue I have, and always love to make it is that the courses are so reliant on you explaining everything to the most minute details, screenshotting every stupid mouse click (a little OTT, but it's the same sorta thing) and stuff like this.

    Even though I did no truly fun units at GCSE, I enjoyed the bits where I was doing something, but hated to explain everything and as such, had to do several times over because it was never good enough.

    As a last point - whoever marks it, cannot be IT literate. I couldn't get two large parts of a database I made working - so I faked them working and got an A....

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    Re: Help - computer weekly article

    I think a lot of the problems have stemmed from head teachers asumming that ICT and Computer Science are similar. And then going for ICT because it's easier to get students to take it and pass it.

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