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How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? A study of TAs use of ICT

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by EstinaJames, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? A study of TAs use of ICTHi allI could really do with some help and opinions on this statement: How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? A study of TAs use of ICTI am a 3rd year student at a university studying a degree in IT and Organisation. For my final year project I am researching and writing a dissertation to find out if ‘How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? (A study of TAs use of ICT in and out of the workplace)I have chosen this title because at present I work as a part-time TA and an unqualified ICT teacher in a secondary school and would like to know what TAs think. It doesn’t matter if you do not use a computer at work or support ICT lessons it’s your opinion that matters. There is a large number of TAs in the school where I work who feel computer skills are not necessary to them because they do not support ICT lessons or would rather not support ICT lessons because they don't like it.Surely, in today's society aren’t computer skills as important as Maths and English skills? Or is that my theory? There must be a more valid reason than “I just don’t use computers at school so don’t really need the skill.”I would be grateful for any opinions as research materials on TAs use of computers or ICT skills are very limited.Thanks
     
  2. Sorry I don't know what has happened to this post. I looks like it been posted twice. I will re-post it.
     
  3. How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? A study of TAs use of ICTHi allI could really do with some help and opinions on this statement: How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? A study of TAs use of ICTI am a 3rd year student at a university studying a degree in IT and Organisation. For my final year project I am researching and writing a dissertation to find out if ‘How essential are basic computer skills for adults today? (A study of TAs use of ICT in and out of the workplace)I have chosen this title because at present I work as a part-time TA and an unqualified ICT teacher in a secondary school and would like to know what TAs think. It doesn’t matter if you do not use a computer at work it’s your opinion that matters. There is a large number of TAs in the school where I work who feel computer skills are not necessary to them because they do not support ICT lessons or would rather not support ICT lessons because they don't like it.Surely, in today's society aren’t computer skills as important as Maths and English skills? Or is that my theory? There must be a more valid reason than “I just don’t use computers at school so don’t really need the skill.”I would be grateful for any opinions as research materials on TAs use of computers or ICT skills are very limited.Thanks
     
  4. Hi I think they are essential, just because it maths or english doesn't mean you won't find yourself supporting children using the computers as part of those lessons. I work in reception and we use them, so I think staff should be able to do the basics otherwise you do look stupid if a child asks for help and you don't know what to do.
     
  5. Computer systems for the average employee are designed to be idiot-proof. Employers are trained quickly and cheaply to use them.
     
  6. Ophelia 9

    Ophelia 9 New commenter

    The National Curriculum requires that ICT be used in the provision of all core subjects I believe - in fact many (most?) primary schools class it as a core subject in itself and I understand there is a possiblity that it will be 'officially' graded as such in this infamous new curriculum which the current government have been promising since they came into power!
    It is becoming increasingly difficult to do some things without using computers these days - some companies/organisations seem to have lost the capability to communicate by non-electronic methods and when my own child did GCSE Maths some eight years ago it was expected that the course work should be completed using internet resources which required a high-speed broadband connection in the days when I didn't have such a thing!
    In short I agree that basic computer skills are essential for the majority of adults these days and will become increasingly so in the future. Whilst I do partly agree with the poster who says that the technology used in many areas of employment is a simple as possible and can be taught by employers I think that having good, basic skills in ICT is becoming as desirable as basic literacy and numeracy - we know that there are employment opportunities for people who lack these but they are generally poorly-paid and often unpleasant ones.
    I have been closely involved in our school's ICT provision for many years now and I actually feel that, just as in literacy and numeracy, we should be focusing on basic skills before trying to move the majority of children on to more complex ones, so I think that we should be trying to ensure that our pupils have a good, strong grasp of using simple word-processing, a basic spreadsheet, emails and using the internet efficiently and safely. It frustrates me to be forced to try and introduce graphical modelling to children who do not have basic keyboard skills - in my experience the theory that playing computer games improves keyboard skills has never proved to be true in the vast majority of cases and most people could do with being specifically taught keyboard skills.
    However, your study does not actually seem to be about the question of all adults needing computer skills but speciafically about TAs. I do know that there are many TAs across all key stages who seem to be reluctant ICT-users - the one who most amuses me in our school says she can't use computers and never opens emails but asked me if I could unlock the Tesco site on the school computer system as her own PC was broken and she only ever shops online!
    It is only natural that people will tend to be wary of subjects which they feel they know little or nothing about and I think TAs are anxious that they may be asked to 'teach' ICT when they feel that pupils know more than them (often not true but many children tend to be more confident to try new things than adults who worry about getting things wrong) and ICT is a clear example of this - I feel I have a pretty good knowledge of the ICT cucrriuclum in KS2 but I wouldn't feel at all confident with some topics covered in secondary, and I would be horrified at being asked to deliver PE! To be completely fair I know of teachers who are even more anxious than TAs on this score - I covered ICT for three years for one terrified teacher and another could not be persuaded to even come and sit in on the lessons because she said she would never do it - this one had to change her tune when she realised that to get promotion she would have to be 'au fait' with ICT, and she actually did quite well, even though she phoned me a couple of times from her new school seeking urgent advice!
    I think schools should be providing basic ICT tuition for those who need it as part of their induction - not just TAs but teachers too. To answer your question more succintly though, I do feel that basic ICT skills are becoming a neccessity and that they do need to be taught - I believe that at some point potential TAs will be asked to prove themselves to have literacy, numeracy and ICT skills as part of their role. How long it will be before this happens I have no idea - it is clear that there are still people employed as TAs who lack the first two attributes - but in the current climate with schools facing huge cuts and TA jobs the likely source of savings it would be madness for heads not to want to keep staff with the most valuable skills.

     
  7. A lot depends on the confidence and competence of the TA... in our school we have 2 who detest any activity requiring ict input. They avoid like the plague. In my opinion if they were supported and encouraged to attend basic skills lessons themselves this would boost their confidence and improve ability
     
  8. The Head of ICT run simple ICT training lessons for the TAs and the Office staff but it was not well attended by the TAs. Most of them only attended 3 times then gave up. This was about 12 months ago. The training lessons still run but it's only the Office staff that attend now.
    Inset days would be a good time for some basic computer training but in the Learning Support department it's always training relating to Learning support issues and the ICT department training is to do curriculum issues.
    Confidence is the problem. When I have a TA in my lessons, as I do both jobs, I also encourage the TA to do the same task along side the students. That way they achieve something at they end of the project. They learn the skills needed and get help as they go along.
    Two have do this so far and said they enjoy it. I just need to get the others on side.


     
  9. Hi I have been a full-time TA for two years, and I am about to start my PGCE next week.
    I have taught ICT lessons for pupils in a 'mini-lesson' style, that is, I have taken the teacher's lesson plans and adapted them for use in smaller groups, then worked my way through the class (sometimes even the whole year group on a weekly basis).
    I think it is extremely important that adults (including TAs) have at least a basic grasp of computer literacy, because it will enable them to make their jobs a lot easier in many ways. For example, TAs are often delegated to resource-making, a process which can be speeded up by having the ability to search for e.g. pre-made wall displays online.
    Another way is to help the TAs with intervention/focus groups: I have often worked with EAL pupils and have found many interactive learning resources online sometimes more effective then if I sat with a pupil and worked through a bunch of flash cards.
    In many TA job applications, at some point in the interview process, there is not only a maths and literacy skill test, but when I was interviewed for my first TA job, the tests were computer based, enabling my employer to assess the candidates' ICT capabilities.
    If you are struggling to find research materials, why not create a poll to collect some of your own raw data for analysis!

    Hope that this helps, do feel free to ask for for more information, should you need any. Good luck!!

     

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