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ICT courses 'worthless' - so how should ICT professionals respond?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by fortuneteller, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. Contributors to this forum will not be surprised by the findings of the Oftsed report on ICT courses - 'The importance of ICT, ICT in schools 2005/2008'
    There is good news there about ICT provision and rising standards. Only 11% of secondary schools had inadequate achievement. (Fine, as long as your own children don't go there.)

    But the Great Scam of easy ICT courses has now been officially recognised.
    Apparently, OCR national level 2 and DIDA courses can be passed with just the skills expected of an average 11 year old. It is twice as easy to clock up GCSEs with these courses than other GCSE subjects. Strangely, the report says that "Increasingly, schools have turned to qualifications that are seen to be less demanding." What can this mean?

    Furthermore, these outcomes are poor preparaton for A levels and "contribute to the falling numbers doing A level ICT". They also "fail to provide the vital skills that the UK economy needs". It notes that standards are low in spreadsheets, databases and programming (i.e. the bits that aren't Media Studies by another name.) It notes that teachers are emphasising learning about software packages at the expense of teaching transferable skills.

    So, what should ICT teachers as a community do about this?
    - Should they carry on with this hugely successfull strategy, knowing that their easily-acquired teaching skills are contributing substantially to the points scores of their school and its valuable league table position?
    - Should they be content that these courses do nothing to prepare students for advanced studies in the subject or a career in the IT industries?
    - Should they feel any sense of guilt that their professional standing as a subject professional has been undermined?
    - Are they able to respond collectively to this shameful position, or just continue to moan on this forum about 'rubbish' ICT courses, useless subject associations, and the lousy new IT Diploma?

    Or perhaps the tactic of denial, with a bit of author bashing?
    (What does FT know? Not even a teacher. Just some IT company director complaining that they can't find any young people who are employable in their industry.)

    I think it would be timely if IT educational professionals as a vertebrate species came out and showed that they actually did possess a spine.
     
  2. Contributors to this forum will not be surprised by the findings of the Oftsed report on ICT courses - 'The importance of ICT, ICT in schools 2005/2008'
    There is good news there about ICT provision and rising standards. Only 11% of secondary schools had inadequate achievement. (Fine, as long as your own children don't go there.)

    But the Great Scam of easy ICT courses has now been officially recognised.
    Apparently, OCR national level 2 and DIDA courses can be passed with just the skills expected of an average 11 year old. It is twice as easy to clock up GCSEs with these courses than other GCSE subjects. Strangely, the report says that "Increasingly, schools have turned to qualifications that are seen to be less demanding." What can this mean?

    Furthermore, these outcomes are poor preparaton for A levels and "contribute to the falling numbers doing A level ICT". They also "fail to provide the vital skills that the UK economy needs". It notes that standards are low in spreadsheets, databases and programming (i.e. the bits that aren't Media Studies by another name.) It notes that teachers are emphasising learning about software packages at the expense of teaching transferable skills.

    So, what should ICT teachers as a community do about this?
    - Should they carry on with this hugely successfull strategy, knowing that their easily-acquired teaching skills are contributing substantially to the points scores of their school and its valuable league table position?
    - Should they be content that these courses do nothing to prepare students for advanced studies in the subject or a career in the IT industries?
    - Should they feel any sense of guilt that their professional standing as a subject professional has been undermined?
    - Are they able to respond collectively to this shameful position, or just continue to moan on this forum about 'rubbish' ICT courses, useless subject associations, and the lousy new IT Diploma?

    Or perhaps the tactic of denial, with a bit of author bashing?
    (What does FT know? Not even a teacher. Just some IT company director complaining that they can't find any young people who are employable in their industry.)

    I think it would be timely if IT educational professionals as a vertebrate species came out and showed that they actually did possess a spine.
     
  3. First, I'd like to know your interest in this FT. If you're just an IT company director, why do you spend so much time on here writing posts so long that I can only sometimes bring myself to get to the end without falling asleep?


    As for the main thrust of the matter - I have a cunning plan. I'm learning to sew, and as soon as I can get the red underpants and the giant S sewn on to my outfit I'm going to fly backwards around the world REALLY fast. Once I'm back in 1992 I intend to find John Major and slap him silly, until he agrees not to introduce league tables.


    In case that doesn't work - does anyone have a Physics colleague (or D&T) who could have a go at knocking up a Flux Capacitor?
     
  4. Get rid of all the muppet courses and stick with 1 computing GCSE and 1 ICT GCSE. Externally marked, externally reviewed by ICT Heads of Department, no coursework and no Government quangos such as Becta, QCA or exam boards allowed anywhere near them. The syllabus should be set by people who know what they are doing.
     
  5. Your problem, FT, is that you now come to the forum with target sewn to your chest.
    Of course everyone knows that ICT can be used to massage results and so many schools do it, it's the minority who do not. Combine that with a hostility to excellence in the field and you have a situation where most ICT is dull, unimaginative and doesn't deliver anything useful.
    Not surprisingly, there are some great ICT teachers about who deliver good lessons. Many who post here are in that category. It is those you should be working to get on your side.
     
  6. Mr_G_ICT

    Mr_G_ICT New commenter

    It's not just ICT, i've seen science doing the same.

    I know i'm an NQT, not quaified to talk about this, But kids see the fact that they start their GCSE in year 10 and do it through 11, it gives them drive. In this school we start it in year 8, so by the time they get to 10 they have lost the will to live.

    OCR's are dumbed down beyond all comparison(Just doing Unit 23, movies, which is the same course i did for my year 7!), DiDA is (alledgedly) too difficult to get a high mark for what it is, AQA is a half decent course, but requires a full class of willing participants.

    But again, i'm a big believer in the quality of delivery. I was the only one in my ICT deparment teaching validation with input masks!!
     
  7. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    The main strength of the OCR Nationals, IMHO, is that the units are written to allow different ways of teaching it. However this is also the weakness that allows the type of "dragging students who don't deserve it through a GCSE" approach ala GNVQ.
    The standard is set by the exam board and they accept a very basic set of skills for a pass in the compulsory unit. This plus one short unit = 1 GCSE. This IS key stage 3 level.
    However a student with a Distinction at Certificate has, at least at our centre, done a lot more work in ICT at a far higher level than previously was necessary for a GCSE.
    GCSEs in the past were learn and regurgitate facts - this is not showing an understanding of the subject. Students leaving us with the Certificate may not be able to "give 5 examples of different output devices" but they have the necessary ICT skills to find this and communicate it properly.
    Unit 7 from the OCR Nationals is much more challenging than the AS level database tasks from both EdExcel and OCR's own.
    Taught correctly this is an excellent course with interesting and substantial content. Taught badly it is not. Unfortunately where it IS taught badly they are getting away with it - the standardisation and moderation is the problem; not the content IMHO.




     
  8. It's unfair to imply that this is the responsibility of ICT teachers. All teaching is about delivering the ticket you are paid to teach.
    It has suited schools and government, but mostly government, for large cohorts of pupils to take the GNVQ and its replacement qualifications, particularly in those schools that would otherwise struggle to reach benchmark standards.
    Also Oftsted seems to have side-stepped the tension between ICT and IT. There has long been the suggestion that generic ICT skills should be imbedded into the wider curriculum leaving IT by itself - but again it neither suits schools or government to follow this route.

     
  9. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    As DEmsley states the Nationals in principle are fine. The only thing that causes the problem is the level they set the pass criteria at. If this was ramped up to something like the merit target then I would support it as a going concern. If like degrees, where a third is a fail in all but name, employers and colleges see a pass grade for what it is then OCR may move the goalposts.
     
  10. "I think it would be timely if IT educational professionals as
    a vertebrate species came out and showed that they actually did possess
    a spine."
    How, exactly ? I've been on an Exam Board Committee ; it's like stirring concrete.
     
  11. 1. No 'alternative' ICT qualifications (DiDA, Nationals, iMedia, et al) to 'count' as ICT in the stats.
    2. Computing and ICT only. PoS must cover NC and FS.
    3. No internally assessed coursework - teachers and parents 'cheat' to allow the numbnuts to get the marks as it is.
    4. Timed tasks similar to the now dead KS3 ICT SATs, just not done the stupid way RM tried (I see the RM software is back for online assessment of other subjects). Assessed by external examiners (no internal assessment) and no print-outs. Hopefully submitted by ePortfolio. Assess the actual work. Timed tasks to be done inside fixed windows (say two or three weeks). Limit the number of times each unit can be done to (say) 3 times (highest mark counts, no A* awarded to re-sit candidates regardless of marks obtained), each re-sit has to be a different task obviously!
    5. Two final written papers, one multiple guess like (is it how OCR do it?) Key Skills, and one holistic paper, with choice of questions.
    6. Greater spread of unit subjects (keep spreadsheets, databases, communications, presenting information, publishing but add game design, web design, graphics, animations, etc), with the ability of a board to add/remove units within the specification lifespan (i.e. QCA to be more flexible).
    7. Don't make it Mickey Mouse to deliver. Make it rigorous - based on moving on from Year 9 and not repeating it! There are enough ICT teachers out there by now to do a decent job. Make the schools employ real ICT teachers who know what they are doing. Schools/LEAs have had plenty long enough (and the money) to buy enough kit.
    8. ICT is a 'core' subject. All the employers I speak to cannot understand why the government don't make it compulsory at KS4. Parents say the same thing. So make it compulsory for pupils to do either ICT or Computing GCSE. Only a pupil who has been disapplied from the NC (after an approrpiate review of needs) should be allowed to do the 'alternative' courses.
    9. Add ICT/Computing to the 5 A-C's measure along with English and Maths.
    And on that subject, City and Guilds do a L2 equivalent non-ICT course (can't remember which one [​IMG]) where you have to pick a number of modules from a huge list, that you can make almost entirely ICT based, that has no external assessment or examinations other than moderation. I don't deliver the course, but my HOD does for those pupils at the lower ability end of the spectrum, in one hour a week.
    Just my two cents.
     
  12. I was woken up this morning by a chap on Radio 4 pointing out that, despite what pupils/teachers/heads/exam boards/parents might think, what "industry" actually wants is properly educated people - training in specific software packages they can provide themselves in a few weeks, what they need is people with general proble-solving skills and an overall understanding of what computers are capable of.
    Yes. It's a common misconception that GCSE or A-Level ICT has anything to do with degree level computing courses. If you want to go do a decent computer science degree, go and do as much maths as you can. A-level ICT is a perfectly valid subject for everyone else - those people who will be doing jobs where they will potentially have to interact with IT professionals to specify or learn about a system (i.e. pretty much most any office job these days). Part of the whole problem is that we expect pupils to specialise too soon - A-levels should offer a broad base of education, not be a prelude to a specific degree course.
     
  13. I think this is exactly right.
    I think this is true for schooling up to age 16; but I believe that the basis of studies post-16 will be specialisation. The basis also of subject options at key stage 4 is about consolidating learning in core subjects, but also making choices about other subjects which are beginning to signify specialisation. I think that QCA's Big Picture provides a good overview of what a curriculum is for. (link: http://www.qca.org.uk/qca_5856.aspx)

    One of the problems of ICT at key stage 4 is that by the end of key stage 3 pupils with level 5/6 in ICT already have fairly good basic knowledge of the subject, and that courses post-14 often fail to build on those studies with progressive, specialist learning. The Ofsted report on ICT referred to repetition and low level outcomes to subjects like DIDA and OCR.

    A-levels represent career choices. What other reasons are there for someone choosing a particular combination of subjects? The choice may spring solely from aptitude, but if IAG is working properly, then students should be able to articulate where this choice is leading them to in career terms. If we agree with this as an indicator, then we can explain the case when students are doing a combination of subjects unlikely to lead to an obvious career avenue as poor IAG, and possibly the dishonest marketing of A-level courses.

    It is true that University computing departments often say that they would prefer students to have maths as a priority and less so A-level ICT. This isn't necessarily true for subjects other than ICT. An A-level is a specialist choice and is usually a pre-cursor to higher level studies and professional routes. If A-levels are viewed by a school as entirely a general qualification then they really are not paying attention to the vocational/professional imperative
     
  14. Another useful thing that needs to happen is that well meaning noddies are firmly excluded from all but Dail Mail comments. Until courses, standards, visions and so on are removed from the political arena, we will not see progress. Education will just get more bruises as it is bounced of one initiative brick wall onto another.
    FT, A Level ICT is related to Computing courses at Uni in the same way that Media Studies is related to chemistry. MOst pupils at A Level have little idea what they want to do. Your not really sure about anything you talk about, are you?
     
  15. you're. God, I'm a noddie.
     
  16. FT, you really need to read beyond the report and go to the OFSTED site and read the individual reports that form the basis of this summary report. As has been said elsewhere, its confusing because some schools were highly praised for use of DiDA/Nationals and raising achievment/interest in ICT, but do hihglight ill-preparedness for further study (and possibly employment if I read on such report ). QCA can have some blame for noddy courses/qualifications like FS, but even they had that taken away from them before comleting work on them so thatit could be rushed out. As for OCR N's, yes they are like the style of the old GNVQ's - put them in front of a computer, buy the Telford or similar scheme and grow foru GCSEs. As I have said, it is delusional to think that any subject you can do in half the time has the same rigour/standard at the same time as not fulfilling the PoS requirements. BUT schools only have a legal requirement to assess stduents and complete the PoS, whihc can be done cross-curricular as it is only an entitlement. The assesment of capability comes via a qualification (if you want, but noone says you HAVE to take one).
    So............you can teach whatever you want, just need to be honest about it, wich peple like DJphilips are. If students enjoy the work (and let face it, without that in this day and age has to be a good thing) then that is theb first start to getting them thinking of taking things further.
    Trouble is, heads can see that ICT can still raise headline figures and therefore support introducing such courses - as someone else has said, we can only do, in the end, what SMT tell us to do.
    Look at exam body reports - they are full of comments about schools needing to set aside the correct curriclum time - squeezing subject time sinlt something even HoDs have control over.
    And I totally agree with the comments about other subjects - science is particluarly dumbed down - gone is the practical work, it's all concepts and impacts - not poing to fill gaps in engineering this way.
     
  17. Yes. Schools need to cover PoS requirements for ICT at key stage 4.
    This can mean promoting ICT in subjects and coordinating the coverage.
    It can also mean running quality accredited courses.
    The latter usually mean there are fewer resources available for ICT in subjects - so these courses ought to be really good if they have taken the responsibility to deliver the ICT.

    I have seen some great specialist teaching at key stage 4 providing really worthwhile experiences.I have also seen press-ganged PE teachers struggling with low level IT while the class rightly gets restless.
    The IT courses complained about on these forums are fingered in the Ofsted report - "The Key Stage 4 curriculum is inadequate in around one fifth of schools visited".
    Scale that up and we might suggest that 1100 secondary schools should abandon their noddy ICT teaching at KS4 and give the resources over for subject use.

    And perhaps send their pupils that want to do some worthwhile specialist IT at KS4 to the schools running the IT Diploma.
    Ouch! Hit a sore spot there. Oops. Maybe I have discovered the real reason that many ICT teachers are against the IT Diploma?

     
  18. Agree with myponyislittle
    We will face the classes SMT award to us. We will deliver the latest incarnation of practical tasks that the exam boards set up. We will deliver the tedium that is some of the theoretical component of the current GCSE. Occasionally we'll try to actually do some teaching in there as well!
    Currently we run the yawn-worthy Edexcel GCSE, which can give pretty good grades (although rarely the elusive A*) but that you can drum the numbnuts through if they are willing. There is a fine line between help and too much but we play the game. At A level we do OCR Applied ICT which the students love and find interesting and relevant, but can't score so well in. Posts from AQA and Edexcel January results also seem to suggest that it is hard to get decent grades at A level. We've been told that we have to offer a qualification at KS3 and are looking at OCR Nationals, which seem to be hoop-jumping.
    It seems that the highly regarded courses are either dull or hard for average students to do well in wheareas enjoyable courses are seen as too low level.
    Don't blame us teachers though... we'll work hard to make whatever system work for the benefit of our kids. What we need are some of the more outspoken members of the forum to be involved in the design of new courses which reflect what kids can do, want to do, will do and can be assessed fairly (and without too much stress for us!) doing.
     
  19. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    I don't disagree with that statement.
    Erm now how do you manage to conclude that because a school runs the diploma that the teachers within it will be any better qualified to deliver the material?
    Of course you won't answer this question, you will duck it. Do you not understand that your presence in this forum does the diploma no favours at all, you don't understand our subject because you have never taught it. No-one on here takes you seriously and you wind people up. Do you think this makes us more or less likely to adopt your course. So as you are employed in a PR role for this course under the vague guise of looking for input from people at the coal face then you should conclude that your time spent in here has been a complete and utter waste of your time and the impact on your course will be a negative one. Do yourself a favour and use your time to do something constructive. After all it's my taxes that are paying your wages no doubt, so as a stakeholder in your life I vote that you p*ss off.
     
  20. Because of the need for them to get their bid accepted as the local centre for the Diploma, and the support they will get once they start it, and the team teaching that goes on across the consortia. None of these quality control stages happens if a school decides to fling together a Dida course and have the caretaker teach it.

    didn't!

    I know the subject quite well actually.

    Yes. I do this quite effectively as I can see.

    I'm not actually. I just think the IT Diploma has every chance of being miles better than what schools currently inflict on pupils at KS4. See the Ofsted report for more on this.

    Not true. A lot of people will read these posts and make up their own mind. If you follow them you will see that we have gone from a thread about how the Diploma is dead to seeing Ofsted effectively kill off the current alternatives. People can spot progress being made.

    Impossible unless you hold contracts with the private sector.

    Dont sit on the fence David, speak frankly.
     

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