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ICT curriculum 'reform' and educational policy

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by BootStrap, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. It's a mistake to imagine that those who write reports for ministers actually believe in the viability of what they recommend. They must first meet the political requirements of those who are paying them.
    ICT for new Labour symbolized modernity and progress......and a business opportunity for some large companies.
    The conservatives have been consistent through history in framing their central strands of education policy. These are depressingly constant - "readi' "ritin' "rithmetic' and 'discipline'. Vocational education is suitable for the disinterested and stupid whilst "academic education" is suitable for the children of cabinet ministers etc.
    ICT will be sacrificed on this political alter to the right wing late middle aged Daily Mail readers who have failed to see the technological game has changed and Britain is about to be left behind.
     
  2. It's a mistake to imagine that those who write reports for ministers actually believe in the viability of what they recommend. They must first meet the political requirements of those who are paying them.
    ICT for new Labour symbolized modernity and progress......and a business opportunity for some large companies.
    The conservatives have been consistent through history in framing their central strands of education policy. These are depressingly constant - "readi' "ritin' "rithmetic' and 'discipline'. Vocational education is suitable for the disinterested and stupid whilst "academic education" is suitable for the children of cabinet ministers etc.
    ICT will be sacrificed on this political alter to the right wing late middle aged Daily Mail readers who have failed to see the technological game has changed and Britain is about to be left behind.
     
  3. I agree, I recall another set of "experts" saying that ICT was very "worthy " when Nu Lab were in power. These "independent experts" simply confirm the views of their political masters. Removing ICT from the curriclum is a huge mistake as the skills set of non specialists is low in most schools. The asertion that ICT GCSE is easier than "traditional" subjects is another falsehood. Check our QCA avergage results for each subject and you can see the average pass rate for History and Geography is similar than that of ICT GCSE. Having taught History prior to ICT at GCSE level I am bemused why it is described as a "hard" subject.
     
  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    I disagree. The "a computer in every school" initiative began in Mrs Thatcher's early days.
    I'm afraid I feel that view is part of why we're in the mess we're in right now - the last government was clearly very concerned about that attitude so it decided an "academic education" is for everyone despite it being clear to almost every parent and teacher that this simply isn't true!

    In the 1980s I worked with a load of people who'd never seen a computer yet were able to train themselves to use WordPerfect in a few hours. Where, exactly, will we be left behind if we don't teach kids to use office?
     
  5. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    In theory, you're right. In practice, I feel that there is a stunning amount of ignorance towards computers/ICT skills since they've become so embedded in our lives. The level of exploration in many kids is so weak that instead of right aligning text for an address on a letter, they'll use a text box instead (many many not have even used right alignment before!).
    Many have become reliant on ICT (the tools) to be a provider of solutions, it does it for them, rather than a producer, they do it through the program. While well-motivated students might well be able to work out any given program, many...won't.
    It is a shame to waste the massive power we have at our disposal, even the mundane office software suites.
     
  6. Certainly I don't think that the Conservatives have not had their innovators. The superhighways initiative, the introduction of ICT as a subject were both conservative. However Gove is not of this school.
    I'm not clear that we need children to "learn WordPerfect" in either one or two hours.
    We need a recognition that the world is changing and human capital is realized through education and that capital is transformed into wealth in a knowledge economy. Dumping ICT is possibly the "looniest" notion we could have arrived at.
     
  7. jweb2k

    jweb2k New commenter

    Dumping mickey-mouse ICT in favour of rigourous ICT is the best notion the government has arrived at. If you take issue with the previous sentence and want to defend it - then you're obviously in the "already rigorous" camp, but many schools are coasting on minimal-possible ICT skills to get a Pass in vocational qualifications.
    Reviewing schemes of work across multiple schools it's obvious that in a large number of cases the curriculum hasn't moved on since NC 2000. If this leads to high quality ICT with a renewed design, technical and theoretical skills strands I'm all for it!
     
  8. I'd offer that the curriculum for ICT has not really moved on since the mid to late 1980s when it became fossilized and subsequently exploited for the mutual profit of commercial exam boards and schools needing to claw their way up the league tables.
    The discourse surrounding how the ICT could be reformed, what principles should underpin it and what purpose it serves is certainly required but now unlikely to ever take place.
    Whether those schools which will be obliged to deliver the NC choose to deliver computing or micky mouse ICT is also largely irrelevant. A fleeting glance at the recommendations of what should be compulsory, a school timetable and a calculator will show that there will be no time for micky, mini, scratch the cat or indeed anything else.
    What they have done is substantially reproduce all of the weaknesses of the original NC - over loaded and over specified.
     
  9. ICT [the subject] was created in 1997 by Lord Stevenson.
     
  10. Uh? IT appeared in the GERBIL of 88!
    The Stevenson report was commissioned by Blair - before he was elected and as such could not form part of a government policy construction. (Actually Stevenson was a friend of Blair). The report was the trigger for the NGFL and the push to use ICT in support of learning across the curriculum rather than the ICT subject curriculum.
    Now one to conjure with is that at the time Stevenson made recommendations for the massive support of government in promoting and resourcing e-learning ..............he was the managing director of Pearsons! Mmmmmmm? Indeed a glance at the consultation document on NGFL states that a secondary aim of NGFL was to grow the e-learning market ..... which it did to the tune of £4bn.
    IIf you want a guiding architect of the NC ICT you could do worse than Gabriel Goldstein.
     
  11. Unfortunately, the current situation leaves us in danger of the 'baby being thrown out with the bathwater'.

    There are multiple issues contributing to the potential ICT demotion. Initially, we have a subject that in the real world follows 'Moores Law' and the NC. One has a doubling of capability and possibilities of Digital Technology every 2 years and one will in 2014 have had a 12 year lifespan.

    Recruitment of 'subject specialists' has been another issue, subject specific educated degree holders have chosen the more lucrative option of the private sector. Faced with the gaping whole in provision for a 'core subject' stopgap measures have been found in the form of existing teachers taking another subject or other non-subject new entrants via various routes. This is a cross curricular delivery method by the back door, the formalities of this are now set for 2014.

    Inadequate new entrants and CPD has left us in a position where in the chase for examination results and an examination board introduced the most undemanding, simplistic of qualifications (the bard's qualification) and every school jumped onboard, make no mistake this has had a direct influence on the current state of affairs, not least the fact that record numbers or pupils were passing a Gcse equivalent course but industry was complaining that the level of basic skills of the new entrants to the labour force were lacking.

    Whether from a degree or self taught a deep or higher level knowledge of the subject, should be the first requirement of the ICT teacher role. It should be incumbent on an ICT teacher to keep up to date, in line with Moores law. The ICT curriculum should be updated every two years. Only then would you have a subject that is once again the core subject that it should be.

    In essence the teaching of computing should not be the panacea of the current problem, but the teaching of concepts such as binary within ICT should.
     
  12. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    How software develops is not really in line with Moore's law, though (with the possible exception of high end gaming). The fundamental principles of ICT don't change much over time - word processing, spreadsheet design and even good coding discipline are not concepts that change massively over the period of 1-2 years.
    While we should strive to include new ideas, we also have to be pragmatic - by the time one group of students leaves us or by the time they start using computers "properly", software will likely have moved on to some degree (in the sense of Office 2003 to 2007, for example). We need to make sure the skills we deliver will stand the test of time as well as being relevant to today's usage.
     

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