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How are their "office" skills?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by BW12345, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Yr10. I've got a group doing a science project, which will be a dozen or so pages. So I jotted on the board
    Do a-
    Title page
    Header with page numbers
    Table of Contents
    References list
    Neat drawings (they're simple blocky things)
    Spreadsheet for results.​

    They really hadn't a clue how to do any of those in Google Docs (we use Classroom, allegedly) or MS Office or whatever they have at home.
    HOD said " If they do (use Google Docs) it takes up too much time at the expensive of learning."

    Is your school like that? Begs a few questions I'm hesitant to ask....
    nguyenvananh1512 likes this.
  2. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    I've always believed that the ability to present a formal report is still an essential skill in many areas of both education and employment. Consequently I've included a section on this at both KS3 and KS4 - repeating this once again for incoming KS5
    One of my university science lecturer friends got so p**d off with the standard of reports/experimental write ups her students were presenting that she now runs a drop in session covering this and a range of other formal presentational skills.

    She believes, as I do, that far from being a waste learning time. It actually adds another useful additional skill set and incidentally makes the work easier for her to go through.

    If your IT (sorry Computing ) colleagues won't teach this as they are too involved with Binary vs Merge sort discussions etc etc etc then cover it yourself
  3. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    Go ahead, ask those questions, I'm intrigued!

    Where do you think students would learn those skills, though? I've been teaching since 1997 and none of those things have ever been part of an ICT course that I've known. Getting KS4 students to produce a decent multi-page document has always been an issue, but is, in some ways, less so now because GCSE coursework has largely disappeared.
    Maybe desirable, rather than essential - I don't think my barber or bin man has a need to produce a formal report - but I would also argue that it's not really an IT skill. It's an aesthetic skill - students can't do it because they can no eye for detail and a less-developed ability to judge quality.

    Why would you expect your Computing colleagues to teach these skils when they're not part of the curriculum? It sounds to me like they're needed in Science, so that seems to be the obvious place to teach them.
    T0nyGT likes this.
  4. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Though I first qualified in the 80's I spent most of the years since in industry. We all had to teach ourselves, because it was new. Once the Secretary positions vanished, everyone at low - middle levels needed to be competent to write their own stuff.
    Anybody who produces something on paper from a computer needs at least part of this skillset. I know some schools incorporate it, but I was surprised it's only given lipservice in mine - I'd not inquired before.
    Geographers, finance people, builders and many others would have at least as strong a need as phys/chem/biologists.
    In much of my industrial working life, Technical Reports were a routine requirement of all staff, as were instruction manuals, and so on. I and others developed standard templates, but the ability of the graduate intake was poor.

    I've informally mooted running an after-school class in the summer term, to the one whose quote is above. She assumed I'd be doing it for teachers and thought it would be popular!

    Google do a range of 80 (if you include the US ones) non Gooogle-specific modules with a Teacher/Student setup:
    Each activity is designed to make the students use various features, often in collaboration to get a task/game done.

    This is the very basic end of ICT, a subject which wasn't being done well, from this report from years ago: https://webarchive.nationalarchives...w.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/ict-schools-2008-11
    It seems to have dropped off the curriculum.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
  5. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    I don't think this is anything new. It was a hot chestnut in both my Access To HE year, and the first Semester of my Degree at Uni. And as for Harvard Referencing - well, let's not even go there.

    Back in the day when I taught FE Computing, it was a mix of Computing and ICT, so students were using MS Office on a regular basis. I get the idea of embedding the use of ICT in other subject, and in my case that was relatively easy, as the students were often asked to produce reports for a number of their units. But even so, I always made a point of providing a template they could refer to for guidance.

    Seems reasonable enough. If the students don't have the skill-set needed, then you have to ask whether their time would be better spent learning about the science, rather than learning how to put together a report.

    Office 365 Home and Student isn't cheap as chips, so depending on the financial situation at home, they may not actually have it. I actually had students on Computing courses that didn't have access to Office outside of College. There are alternatives - i.e., Open Office - but that comes with it's own learning curve.

    If the teachers don't know how to do it, then the students' reactions are not unreasonable.

    You learned how to do it because you had to, because your job required it. Apparently it's not deemed to be a requirement for schoolchildren. If it were, then it would feature prominently in the curriculum, and someone would be teaching it.
  6. dalersmith

    dalersmith Occasional commenter

    I always remember being approached by the HOD Business in my first year of teaching(2010), asking why I didn't teach the students how to write reports as it was clearly part of the ICT curriculum. I pointed out that whilst we cover how to use word processing systems, it had no bearing on whether students could articulate themselves on a report, at best the skills they learned were how to format it so it was done correctly. A word processor is a tool, students are taught how to use the tool, but that doesn't mean they can go from being able to write from the board, to articulating what they have seen during an experiment just because they have a new tool to use. It would be like saying to a D & T student, you know how to use a hammer, now build me a replica Chippendale cabinet.
    I left school in the 1980's we were taught how to write reports on paper this was done by each department that needed the report as each had there own idiosyncrasies.
    SundaeTrifle likes this.
  7. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    So the poor students end up being berated for not being able to write formal documents while the staff and departments bicker about "it not being our responsibility"; "we ain't got the time"; "it ain't on the syllabus" etc.

    FGS where have the grown ups gone

    As said above, formal document production is a widely applicable useful/essential skill - Reports; C.V.s; letters of application etc. etc

    So, it should be/needs to be taught somewhere. If no-one else is prepared to step-up then PSHE perhaps
    BW12345 likes this.
  8. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    No student should be berated for being unable to complete a given task, if they have not been shown/taught how to do it. Once upon a time, as long as results were favourable, you were left to your own devices, and were able to simply get on with doing what needed to be done. I think it's different for today's teachers. If they're struggling to find the time to cover everything they need to in their own subject areas, for which they are held accountable, they are unlikely to volunteer to take on additional tasks.

    Pure guesswork on my part, but based on a cross section of the posts here on the TES Community forums, It looks like:

    10 % have retired.
    15 % seem to be actively seeking alternative employment.
    20 % are busy building up to/having nervous breakdowns.
    40 % are busy keeping their heads down, eagerly awaiting retirement.
    10% are running around like headless chickens, wondering why they entered the profession in the first place.

    If anything comes of the talk about 'preparing students for the workplace', then hopefully it will be covered somewhere or other. The issue then is to what level. All students should be shown how to write a CV and Covering Letter, regardless of their intentions on reaching school leaving age.

    Producing a formal report would be useful for any students intending to go on to FE/HE, or aiming for a 'blue collar/white collars ' job. Maybe taught as a joint involving English/Maths/Science Departments, as the skills needed to produce a good report that's worth more than the paper it's written on, involves more than simply knowing
    what format to use.
  9. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    The original post wasn't actually about the students not being able to write formal reports, but them lacking the Office/admin skills required to do it.

    The problem there is that those might vary depending on the student - some might use Office, some might use Apple Pages, some might use Google Docs. There aren't really generic "ICT skills" any more; they're application-specific skills, and as application use fragments (my daughter in year 9 rarely uses Office at school), those skills are becoming more and more niche.
  10. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Not quite, the original post was about
    Do a-
    Title page
    Header with page numbers
    Table of Contents
    References list
    Neat drawings (they're simple blocky things)
    Spreadsheet for results.​

    Nothing fancy. No "Chippendale".
    If you do a science experiment, you set it out and write it up. That's "Report writing" - different matter.

    The question was "Can they do it, in your school?". Not many answers!

    If you know what the things on the list actually are, and have been through doing them in one program, it's pretty trivial to use another for the same thing.
    Google, Microsoft and Apple all have good Help files on those subjects, but if kids don't even know what eg a TOC is, they won't get far.

    Any job which needs about level 2 upwards qualificatons is going to need some office abilities. It's the employers which will berate them - or more correctly, blame their teaching.

    I won't take me long to teach through that list, but I didn't expect to have to.

    I've asked teachers at my own school and others, and other schools' kids I meet. Only a small sample obviously, but it DOES seem to be off ( or very poorly specified in) the curriculum now, which I think is idiotic.
    I agree with @madcat - it needs teaching so get on with it. The teachers I've asked who won't, or can't, are all the ones I think of as whining, poor teachers who'd rather moan about a problem, than just deal with it one way or another.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
  11. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    So why are you here whining about it, rather than just teaching it?
  12. Dorsetdreams

    Dorsetdreams Occasional commenter

    Yes indeed! I'm in the 40%. Not long now......

    Sadly, one of the consequences of my length of service is that 'years ago' feels like just yesterday. Just another report bemoaning lack of 'ICT Strategy'. My god, how many of those have I had to write? Yet an effective strategy might have been: one computer per student, less than 6 years old (plus a projector and absolutely no other IT rubbish), IT specialists only, and don't change the exams more than once a decade. Still failing on all fronts...
  13. dalersmith

    dalersmith Occasional commenter

    In which case, with so few gcse courses requiring coursework these days, few departments worry about word processed work. Generally my science department hand writes everything.
  14. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Oh you have to work out some bitterness .
    I didn't whine, I asked a question.

    I shall teach it, not a problem. It's prepped - not hard.
    Using a WP used to be generally included in ICT or Computing, now it's covered well in some schools but not others. It probably depends on the relevant staff member's attitude.

    It's not me who's whining - or making things up. I'm getting on with it.

  15. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Uh- I screwed up the quote somehow.
    I set the homework online and print it to hand out. Some normally answer using a computer. Formulae and diagrams can be tricky, so no, it certainly wouldn't be practical to have it all on a computer. But everyone can type faster than write now. Quicker to mark, too. They don't have school computers each, but they all have one at home, and some access to one at school, and Google Classroom.
  16. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Different subjects need different skills; a few skills are school-wide. But teaching "office skills" on their own is pretty empty - imagine being taught to make dovetail joints but never to build anything, or how to chop onions without actually cooking them. It might be possible to do a whole-school audit, work out which skills are needed where, and then delegate different subjects to teach specific skills. Feels a bit bureaucratic (I have tried it with limited effect).
  17. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Your students never create documents on a computer? I'm surprised.
  18. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    It is part of the Computing curriculum. Ideally the basic skills should be being taught in Primary, however, the change has left some teachers confused over what to teach and the heavy focus on CS has drawn attention away from the IT and DL that also needs to be taught. In which case it needs to be picked up in year 7 under the ATs:

    • undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals, including collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users
    • create, reuse, revise and repurpose digital artefacts for a given audience, with attention to trustworthiness, design and usability

    I would say there are generic skills. Being able to understand the purpose of semantic structures in documents for example, or how to use images and text effectively in presentations. Things that are applicable regardless of the application, although they will then pick up knowledge that is application-specific as well. It is similar to programming where there are key concepts and approaches that cut across everything such that they know what they want/need to do which then needs to be complemented with how you do it in that application/programming language.
    BW12345 likes this.
  19. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I agree that learning should be purposeful, but should be easily possible in Computing lessons (although even better to get cross-curricular in). For example, getting the students to research a historical figure in computing and presenting it, would be an opportunity to develop presentation skills. Creating an "introduction to programming in Scratch" booklet for next year's year 7's a way into using word processors correctly.
  20. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I suppose the problem with launching the new National Curriculum on the cheap, with no training courses and no exemplification documents, is that you leave it open to confirmation bias.

    As a Computer Scientist, what I see in the first bullet point is the phrase "to achieve challenging goals", which I take to mean challenging in the context of the subject, rather than something like "Use Word to write a best-selling novel."

    While I concede that writing a report could be construed as creating a digital artefact, it's not something that fits anywhere in my Computing concept map as linking together topics and it doesn't prepare students for the GCSE in the subject, so I tend to focus on other artefacts.

    Personally, I would remove the e-safety stuff from the Computing curriculum (as e-safety is just safety) and put it in a PSE-type subject. I think I would then put report writing, etc. in with it, and make "Bad Science" the course text.

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