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General Chat Thread, PC Pro's attempts at the ICT GCSE in General; As it happens I only dug up my A-Level IT book the other day. Some of the stuff in there ...
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    As it happens I only dug up my A-Level IT book the other day. Some of the stuff in there is quite questionable to say the least. One part describes how people dont develope software for linux as it has such a small market share! lol I get what they mean but they made it out as though theres no point in making software for linux. If they had said there is little point making software for home users then yeah, to a point, they are right. But then again look at the likes of Ubuntu...

    Anyway im quite interested in dhicks point. To me GCSE ICT is little more than training in being a secutary. That said, some of the things the kids are made to do is the complete opposite of the scale.
    Web design - i really cant see how the govt. think there is time to teach kids web design as well as everything else they learn, within their 2 GCSE years. Anyone who knows anything about web design will tell you how long it takes to make a website properly, and as such the kids all seem to end the term with a crappy website taken from a template in dreamweaver, with bits and peices randomly copied into it from other websites they liked. Not to mention it is only compatible with IE, would get ripped to peices by the W3 validator, and ultimately teaches the kid nothing about the job of web design.

    On the fun side we have multimedia. An IT teacher is currently putting a bid in to get macs so that she can use the "i" range of software. This software all integrates into eachother and as such is really easy to use, but as a consiquence of its easy, directed nature all the students seem to come out with very similar projects. Great, the software does exactly what the course wants of it but since when was a peice of professional multimedia software easy to use? No self respecting multimedia designer would use wizards to make their product. So i ask, what exactly is the value of this exercise?

    There is no easy answer i guess but would this not be a better way of doing things? Teach the kids how to use their own initiative by giving them a foundation in how a computer works and how all the peices fit together; How does the file system work. Menu driven things and how to apply settings/options. Show them files being transfered about and how web/media content comes from Mr Server and how it magically appears on their screens. etc etc. Give them a basis on how to work out why the "silly" computer has not done as they expected and maybe they will learn from their mistakes.

    We all know kids can work out how to use any peice of software if they want to; when was the last time a pupil asked you for a lesson on how to use MSN? Given a sound foundation there is no reason why the majority of pupils cannot work out alot of the functions of a software package on their own, they do not need to be guides through each stage of the process, or throw their work into a wizard to produce "standard fit" results.

    Then, do one major project. Teach them more advanced techniques and go into more detail so that at the end of the year(s) they actually have something to show for their efforts. Being able to prove that you can use one program properly to create good results is surerly better than being able to show that you can use 10 differance peices of software to create half-assed attempts. Im sure i would have loved to do a project instead of doing something silly like a mail merge, but then with endless write ups of each step of the process. WTF does proving you can do something by documenting you doing it achieve? Surerly if you have a working model then you have done it correctly

    Some schools may be quite good and as such disagree with me, but i can only go on my own experiances and observations. One observation was i was asked to take an IT lesson and let the kids play about with a physical computer. I stood there, took one apart, explained the function of the major bits, and put it back together again. I then told them to go away and do the same to their PC (shared between 2). I tell you i have never seen a class so quiet, even though some of the most disruptive pupils were present. Not one kid, disruptive or shy, boy or girl, failed to take part, seem genuinely interested and asking questions, and just thoroughly enjoy the lesson.
    Next lesson they were back to "how to be a secutary" and as such went back to not paying attention, playing games, etc. So theres deffinatly the desire there to learn more about computers rather than MS office.

    All i remember from GCSE IT from when i was at school is MS Office, and how completely boring it was, i guess some things never change. You could say "well you know how to use Office then dont you?". Well no, it was Office 97 and things have changed. I cant remember the last time i used Excel for anything more complicated than basic adding up of figures. I have never used access, yet i use proper databases alot (SQL). Word: you type, it appears, what more can i say? My point is the everyday tasks are that simple anyone of the next generation of workers should be able to figure it out for themselves. Any advanced applications will have training provided either by a specialist course or by their employer. I see little point in a half-assed attempt at learning a vast number of differant applications, you'd think it silly for an electronics teacher to try to show how to use a vast array of ICs, why is it differant in IT?
    Last edited by j17sparky; 18th June 2008 at 09:24 PM.

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