And when you see how coursework heavy and time consuming the IT curriculum is already, you can see where he's coming from!
I think the whole curriculum needs scrapping and starting again, with coding at the core of it.
Office should be taught as a separate, core GCSE and programming, networking, hardware etc. should be the actual ICT curriculum.
I might go with the maths and Excel but english knowing how to use word - it's hard enough for them to log on here sometimes. Probably not fair to some of them but I seem to spend my time showing them how to use the perishing product properly without them trying to teach it.
I don't really agree with that. If you know programming you can quickly learn what you need in a language and there are plenty of choices of languages that have simple entry requirements (i.e. you don't need to spend 200 lines declaring interfaces to windows API's before you can, on line 201 write : print "hello world"). You should rarely be having to troubleshoot pupils code for them since that is part of the essential skill you are teaching and it's important that they do it for themselves.And whilst it's fine to talk of vagaries and concepts, and they are the most important thing, the fact is that at some point you will need to teach them an actual language - at least, if you want the teaching to stick. At that point you really do need to know a language well, to be able to troubleshoot code at a glance (when you have 30 pupils, you have little time) and to be able to mark it quickly and efficiently.
That I do have sympathy for. I see how hard many teachers have to work to keep up with changes in the curriculum AND the individual needs of their students. I think the problem is that ICT is too big a potential basket. There does need to be basic IT skills - taught from primary school in the same way students learn to read and write. After that, there are more technical skills; a basic understanding of logic gates and microprocessors (I think that is actually key, it's important that people understand that everything in IT is based on a few simple building blocks) and then an understanding of procedural problem solving.And when you see how coursework heavy and time consuming the IT curriculum is already, you can see where he's coming from!
Personally I despair at what is being taught in Schools. I see around me people who are hacking 3d printers out of parts they find in B&Q and a few chips and motors they find on the net. People doing incredible things with home CNC, or a LAMPS websites. These are people who have no fear of engineering and technology and know how to go about finding out what they need where they don't have knowledge of it already. They have a basic knowledge that allows them to bootstrap themselves into a self sufficiency of a mastery of technology. And while they are doing it, they look as if they are having an incredible amount of fun (probably because they are!). There are still geeky kids who's parents don't quite realise that their kids have their noses buried in a computer and are raking in £10000 a month from some silly iPhone app they knocked up. And yet what do we see in an ICT lesson - hey kids, let's learn how to do a graph in excel or a table of contents in word - or whoooo - complex but let's learn how to do a ... mailmerge!! I despair not because we aren't teaching the skills that Industry or business needs, not because the lack of those skills will mean that our country loses it's status as a world beater in IT or that we will be less competitive and rake in less lovely cash from ... err ... johnny foreigner. I despair because these are skills that allow people to be truly empowered and independent as individuals.
Still not sure why they say that is the new Latin. In Caesars time, there was a snobbery where people would say someone was an ignorant peasant with no Greek. Programming should surely be the new Geek?
As much as I support the Computing at School agenda and would love to get more Computer Sciences and Coding into education, I have to say that I was not that impressed by Ian Livingstone when he spoke at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum last Thursday ... and I was not the only one.
There is a small group involved in promoting coding and creative development who are knocking IT skills which have been taught over the last 10 years. I am not saying that learning MS Office (other office packages are available) is the best thing in the world, but it is not the worst either. In fact a number of folk (CBI, etc) where saying that school leavers did not have the skills to readily pick up the different range of applications and packages used in business, and that they needed more done on it at schools. This was done ... and now people are knocking it to get *their* agenda heard.
As bad as bloody politicians ... make themselves look good by everyone else looking bad.
One of the problems if that most office packages have some very powerful tools in them ... tools that can sit side by side with coders ... and yet they say that this is not what is needed. Calling all ICT boring was a bad move in my book. I have seen it taught fantastically ... and instead of just saying "oh, but that is only in a minority of cases" why don't they work out how to get *more* people teaching that way.
Coding covers concepts, skills and knowledge ... and one of the greatest skills is problem solving ... that is not isolated just to coding but covers a wide area. Most of the careers covered within STEM will need to use Office suites and other 'basic' ICT skills ... so don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
ICT and Computing can work together ... the same way Art and Graphic Design can do. It is also not the case that *all* children are able to hack, code, phreak, browse, design, etc ... there is still a digital divide and that needs addressing too. The frustrating thing for some children is that in their primary school they could be doing quite advanced work, yet have to go back to basics when in secondary ... because there is such a disparity between schools they come from. With the ICT Co-ordinator role still being given to the last person running out of the staff room when responsibilities are handed out ... then you can struggle to have the same level of curriculum in each school. In some schools they find tech is a tool for developing tech ... and in others you might find the priority is using it as a tool for promoting writing ... it all depends on the individual needs of a school.
So, personal opinion ... a lot of this is political staging and folk trying to get their agenda to the top of the pack. Give it 2 years and it will be something else ... and yes, I am more than a little cynical.
We, the people who work in IT support jobs in school, now have possibly our biggest chance so far to change the way IT/ICT/computing/programming/hacking/whatever is perceived and taught in the UK with the launch of the Raspberry Pi computer. It's not so much the device itself - other similar devices already exist, the Ardunio in particular - as the amount of interest surrounding it. Raspberry Pi, Computing at School and other various bodies seem to have been releasing a steady stream of press releases and news articles over the past few months, all leading up to the Raspberry Pi's launch in a few week's time. When it launches, those first 10,000 Raspberry Pis are going to get sold pretty quickly, and most of the first batch is going to wind up in the hands of experienced IT professionals - people with 10 or 20 years in the industry who will find tinkering with a chip on a circuit board fun. A bunch of those people will have their own ideas as to what would make a good educational programming tool, and being experienced IT professionals a good number will promptly sit down and make one, because that's what you do when you have your own computer and a good idea.
If you want to help shape how computing gets taught in schools over the next decade or so, go and buy a Raspberry Pi when they launch and help create the kind of educational programming environment you think is best. We are, after all, the people who should know exactly what is needed - we wander in and out of most lessons in the school, observing how current technology works for or hinders teachers and pupils, and we'll shortly have a tool with some momentum behind it that we can get into classrooms and get those education-enhancing devices and applications made.
Urgh... even though I'm interested in all the points being raised, this is quickly becoming tl;dr
The government response, as promised in the original article: Government focus on skills development
EDIT: I do love how easy it is pointing out government hypocrisy.Teaching of ICT and computer science in schools needs reform to better reflect the changing role of technology and the need to engage the computer scientists of the future, the Government says in its response to an independent review of skills (“Next Gen”) for the UK’s video games and visual effects (VFX) sectors.
This being the same Ed Vaizey that shot down tax breaks for the UK videogame industry not so many months ago, despite the clear and obvious benefits it would bring economically and culturally.Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey said:
“The economic and cultural value of the UK’s video games and VFX sectors is clear and the long-term potential of their global markets present a great opportunity for UK-based businesses.
Last edited by sonofsanta; 29th November 2011 at 09:47 AM.
My colleague pointed out something interesting yesterday.
Back when he was younger, and computers were basically just starting out in the home, people bought magazines with pages of code which they then typed into their computers to load up games. Cover discs? Nah.
So, by doing that, they got to see exactly how the game worked, and could edit it to do what they wanted. This led him to go from bedroom enthusiast, to setting up a game company with some friends and developing several games (until they went bust due to their distributor going down the pan).
At that time, the UK was the world leader in computing and gaming, without question. Now that everything is basically a click away via steam, the UK languishes down the list of countries. Our gaming industry is tiny compared to what it once was.
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