superfletch (20th January 2011)
I think ICT's days as being taught as a discreet subject taught o all are numbered. It's become a tool, like a pen for writing. Primary age children will have ICT lessons in the same way as they get taught to read and write so that they are equipped to move on with their education.
By secondary school, they should all be able to use computers in the same way as they should be able to write. They'll use ICT as part of their other lessons, but unless there's a desire to learn it more depth, it won't be taught as subject. Much like technology it will become an option.
Some will slip through the net and struggle to use computers much as some struggle with reading... (although I suspect rather fewer!)
superfletch (20th January 2011)
Using a computer and ICT are 2 different things. The same way we all read or add up, we still have discrete lessons for English and Maths, but the building blocks have to be taught somewhere, but it is also essential you plan how to use those building blocks!
In my experience, I'd have to agree with those who see no requirement for discrete ICT core skill lessons. The last pupils who might, if at all, needed such lessons were those who started school in the early-mid 90s and left 5-6 years ago. I can still remember my first morning of P1, waiting outside the classroom while just inside my two best friends were playing on the class computer (an old BBC or Amiga I think). In P1/2 the computer was mainly used for fun much like the more traditional wet areas. In P3 we were introduced to the Crystal Rain Forest but that was pretty much the extent of IT teaching at that stage back then. Not many had computers at home (mainly Win 3.11 back then), usually only if their parent's work required it, and their only educational use was to do homework with a broken arm.
In P4 we began to use the class computer individually to type out bits to stick on posters etc. There was a short lived after school computer club (using the senior school IT suite but run by one of the new P4 teachers interested in IT, rather than the senior school IT teachers oddly enough. In P4 we'd also be allowed on the library computers once a week to surf the internet under supervision. But it was still mostly trial and error under supervision of the class teacher. In P7, the school bought a cabinet of eMates. These were used to type up project work and it was the class teacher who taught us how to print and even use the rudimentary infrared p2p networking.
It was only in senior school that we began to have proper discrete ICT "core skills" lessons. Unfortunately they pretty much ignored what their own primary school had taught us and instead held extremely unambitious lessons to teach us basic functions of Appleworks. Meanwhile some of the more enlightened teachers in other subjects made the most of computing - for instance, in Geography they used the cabinet of iBooks to do internet research, projectors to replace slides (personally I prefer the old blackboards and OHP to IWBs), English teachers would use same cabinet to have us type up essays, the Head of Maths taught the top S1 set to programme on his network of TI calculators while the Technology department let us loose on their workstations to do vector drawing in Freehand, Vectorworks CAD and PIC programming.
Meanwhile back in Core IT, it was Logo programming (at a level less demanding than Crystal Rain Forest) and web design that wasn't really web deisgn - none of which those not interested in IT were interested in either. Those who were interested in IT learned more just hanging around the Open Access computers at lunchtime with older boys, investigating directories in between playing Planetarium and watching videos on punchbaby. The big difference between S1 (2000) and S6 (2005) was that in S1 it was only the nerds on the computers really - there weren't many girls on MSN Messenger back then. It changed a bit when iPods came along and by S4/5 about 70% of the year were on Bebo. But by S6, nearly everyone would take one of the S6 iBooks out of the library in free periods, supposedly for UCAS and coursework, but mostly for Youtube. By the time we were off to university, pretty much everyone was on Facebook.
University wasn't better mind. Most departments still insisted on compulsory Word/Excel/Powerpoint courses for all first years, which most people could complete in 20 minutes (even the types who wouldn't have been interested or struggled 10 years earlier) and spend the rest of the time on Facebook/FitFinder. Any course that actually required specialised software (MS Project in mycase) taught you how to use it as part of the course anyway. Likewise most major employers put you through their own IT induction when you joined anway.
Which brings me back to Higher Computing. I only crashed it while doing 3 other Advanced Highers because I wanted some sort of formal recognition of my interest in IT. I had attended a local computer class, which had started as a Futurekids franchise, for several years. The original curriculum for P4-S2 was similar to what was taught in school Core IT lessons for S1/S2, albeit better developed scenarios and in a wider range of programmes. They quickly got through the curriculum so started teaching CLAIT and later ECDL courses for the more advanced classes but we still passed these by S1/2. After that, they brought in a school network manager (they were expanding into providing repairs at the time) who also showed us how to put our own computers together, set up wireless networks at home, let us loose in Virtual PC and Linux and demonstrated various backup strategies. By this stage, we were all very comfortable with WinXP (enough to fix issues for others using the Polish language version) and some of us were considering doing Computer Science at university - I got as far as applying for a CompSci course alongside my Business choices.
Thus for preparation, we took Higher Computing at school. The course effectively took us back five years, if not more, requiring us to learn about token ring networks as if they're were still competitive with normal Ethernet structures, very basic java programming and design a specification for a server to a budget - unfortunately the mark scheme didn't allow for the fact that prices had come down hugely and technology had moved on such that even a Mac Mini wold blow the specification away. All taught by a teacher with no practical experience who had been taught to use computers in a very different way to way in which many children use them today. All in all, it was pretty irrelevant to the real world and personally put me off taking up my CompSci offer in favour of Business Studies.
Meanwhile I look after three year olds who are as equally at home with Win7 as they are with their colouring in crayons. I've long believed the best way to get comfortable with computers is to use them all the time whether playing Doom, checking Facebook or writing essays - not IT lessons and type touching software that see themselves as the goal, rather than a means to an end. Hence I don't believe discrete ICT lessons are required to teach "core skills" when in the last five years computing has become even more central in most classrooms, in which case there is no need for it to be part of the NC. Meanwhile proper computing studies is as much a option subject as proper Economics is and therefore shouldn't be a compulsory part of the NC either - it just needs to be made relevant and rigorous for those interested in the subject matter as every other serious subject is.
Last edited by ninja-lewis; 20th January 2011 at 11:03 PM.
The original BBC article that I linked too has been vastly edited and toned down!
(Or my memory is really going downhill - when I first read it it basically said ICT was no longer compulsory and it was only going to be maths,english,science and PE)
Obviously, some journalist (or minister) jumped the gun and now its all "up for discussion"
My take on ICT is that if you accept that everyone needs to do learn maths,english and science then its a fairly good idea to make sure they can operate and use a computer as well.
So they need to be taught and improve upon basic skills e.g word processing, searching internet, cutting and pasting, loading, saving etc.
And as with all basic subjects, educationalists should strive to try to get everyone to able to the basics and stretch others to their best ability.
I think primaries are the best place to this and that when they arrive at high school, the teachers there should be able to rely on a pupil with level 4 skills being able to produce a reasonable "about me" word processed document or presentation with images from the internet just as they'd expect a level 4 writer to do the same on a piece of paper.
To achieve this, the subject needs to be "taught" and to expect these skills to just arise naturally doesn't match up with how we deal with reading,writing and arithmetic skills.
Web Design, Programming, etc... they'll become courses in their own right selected by some to study.
As long as theres "joined up writing" between primaries and secondaries then that will be fine. So I'd continue to make ICT compulsory in primaries to ensure this and actually make it a bit more rigid.Handwriting lessons are not part of the Secondary Curriculum and I think ICT skills lessons will cease to be part of the Secondary Curriculum.
All the fun/good stuff (podcasting/green screen/animations/scratch programming) can be mixed into cross curricular lessons to enhance the learning in other subjects (Obviously a bit biased here as that's what I do when I help out in lessons )
Thats the sort of thing I'd hope for - I personally would have a business type ICT course (wp/presentations/databases etc) and a Computing type course (programming, web design etc).Web Design, Programming, etc... they'll become courses in their own right selected by some to study.
Or just introduce some computing (and even basic networking so that people learn that you don't have to switch the computer on at the back of the class to make the internet work on the teachers laptop like you did 15 years ago ) into the present ICT GCSE and then split them at A level as at present.
I remember an ICT GCSE exam where the question was something along the lines of...
"how does adding a barcode to a chocolate bar affect the company, workers and the community"
...writing a rather convoluted answer to ensure maximum marks I was just thinking what a waste of time it was. They tried to get us to do touch typing... might as well try and teach watching paint dry! The only memorable thing from that lesson was someone copy \ pasting their aaasssdddfff a couple of thousand times and knocking the server over (this back in the days when quotas were set by a hidden INI file and anyone in the know could easily set unlimited space!) In the end I can type by feel but not by using the conventional methods... I just use PCs so much it's become 2nd nature.
The best things I learnt were a few times when the NM taught me the start of Cisco \ A+ and gave us a few old PCs to sort out and problems to solve... that's where you learn problem-solving and research using IT. Mail merge may be a handy feature but I don't think it's the key to the future of technological development :P
I had a group of students tell me they had heard there was going to be a shortage of IT Professionals due to schools ICT not being very interesting. They were also telling me they were bored so I said "i'll explain the OSI 7layer model and then you'll wish you hadn't asked!" (hoping to hear them say, we'll change the subject). "Oh no please tell us", they said. To be honest if I had the time I would, however it is the curriculm that is a fault not the teachers or teaching. This is why I am an IT Tech and not a IT Teacher even though the Assistant Head thinks I should train as one!
My asst head thinks I should train too, but I won't until the curriculum improves. The kids can do all the Excel functions etc asked of them at a young age now...we need stuff like basic principles of computing, the science behind it etc
Yeah, I was also explaining Hex and Binary to them and they seem to have been taught Binary during Physics lessons. I also did enjoy watching the 15yo student who told me he wasn't very good with IT, touch type faster than I could at his age (and probably now). I was impressed!
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