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Isn't it time for a 21st Century GCSE in ICT?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by e-Luddite, May 29, 2011.

  1. I can't be the only one totally fed up with the butt-clenchingly boring, uninspired banal ICT GCSEs currently on offer? Choosing a board is a bit like vegging out in front of **** TV: we zapp away until we find the least undesirable channel.

    Isn't it high time we collectively put together an ICT GCSE that was genuinely inspirational? There are enough intelligent souls on here (mostly) for us to have more than enough expertise to specify something worthy of the 21st Century? DIDA happened because one person saw how paltry the offerings, and trundled off to QCA with her spec.
  2. Tosha

    Tosha New commenter

    I think we have to accept ICT is not really a subject. Who does a degree in ICT?
    Many will argue but generally they are those without the ability to teach computing. With the new legislation regarding the use of Cookies on the internet the bbc were talking about an increase in work for programmers, dreamweaver skills were not mentioned.
    The route I feel is a gcse in computing with relational db as part of the syllabus, the rest can be cross curricula.
  3. Mr_G_ICT

    Mr_G_ICT New commenter

    I think that is it. ICT does look dull on some specs. We've jsut been through this process of working out what new GCSE we are going to teach. The AQA is more challenging but there is still the process of Screenshotting. Edexcel combats this with an e-portfolio, which i like, but the coursework is dull and doesn't go into enough detail for my liking.
    At the moment, the GCSE specs are at a lesser ability than i have been teaching them for the last 3/4 years. I teach databases to death with validation, forms macros etc in year 8 and 9, then you see a GCSE Spec that doesn't require any of that, even for an A. My OCR national kids have jsut done forms, macros and validation even though i know that the spec doesn't require any of it!(they nearly killed me when they found that little gem out!, my argument was, "well at least you now know how it works properly")
    We did have a discussion about this though and decided this "anything can be boring, it's jsut how you package it". I go into databases saying how much i love them and what they are for etc. but some go into it with the mentaility, ok kids, were doing this for 6 weeks then moving onto something more interesting. if you look at other GCSE's they build year on year, our's don't they almost go down in level, which is the problem because the bright kids get bored and then hate the subject.

    We teach computing as well (as an option) and again, i have the real life experience to back up my knowledge.

  4. colwynexile

    colwynexile Occasional commenter

    Facebooking, texting, emailing, youtubing and game playing are not ICT skills. Neither is creating rubbish powerpoint presentations (check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbSPPFYxx3o&feature=related for an example of what I mean, kept me chuckling for weeks) or not knowing to turn off the American spell checker.
    ICT has been around for a while now, so when will the proper skills become ubiquitous?
  5. gavcradd

    gavcradd New commenter

    Err, except it does - Unit 7, databases - forms are required to be created to even achieve a pass grade, validation is needed for Merit and above.

    I don't quite get this argument either - I notice no one has put together a post that says "GCSE ICT should contain x, y and z." In my opinion, that's because the broad body of what is currently covered isn't too bad (note I don't say it's perfect, what is?). The alternatives to the current specs are either focussed on Computing (and thanks to OCR, we have a GCSE in that now) or rely too much on current trends and fads rather than the important points.

    Put it this way, what from the current specs would you drop out? What is currently included that isn't worthy of an ICT student knowing about?
  6. staxis

    staxis New commenter

    There are degree courses in ICT, have a look on UCAS. BTW I have been teaching Computing A Level, and ICT, successfully for years.
    Teaching ICT does have a place. Unless the staff in your school have unusually high standards of ICT I cannot see the subject being delivered successfully in a cross-curricular way.
  7. How about some stability? Death by a thousand changes!
  8. This thread is interesting in that it throws up all the familiar old questions. Is ICT even a subject? What is ICT for? What should ICT be? There is no consensus and no common view. Fascinating and curious for a subject thats prevalent in just about all UK schools.
    Look at the National Curriculum and you won't be any blinkin' wiser on actually what the subject is all about. Is it crisis? Perhaps it is? And perhaps the blame should indeed go right back to the NC.
    If the knowledge, skills and curriculum content was plain and clear as day (whether you liked that content or not), everyone would fall into line - teachers, exam boards etc. Perhaps its a national scandal that there we currently have tens of thousands of different answers to the question, "what computer based education should UK children have?"
    So how does it all move on? What can we currently do as ICT teaching professional?
    This terrible government is dithering on education and we are in a twilight zone of 'in the future....' / future reviews and a new curriculum where ICT place is in doubt. I am sure I am not alone in craving some clarity (and a bit of stability with it for good measure).

  9. I agree. Every time I read the ICT threads it's always, as you say: is ICT a 'proper' subject? Does it have a place on the curriculum? Does it provide any real value? This is coupled with self doubt by the ICT specialists, and sometimes embarrassment, that they are teaching the subject. This leads to the conclusion that it maybe doesn't have a place in the curriculm as a stand alone subject, as I don't see this consistent, and large volume of self doubt about a subject on any other subject thread.
    The trouble is ICT means different things to different people. How many times have I heard the expression 'He/She's good with computers' and it could mean they are good with facebook, twitter, or can build and repair PC's, or have in depth knowedge of networks or programming, or know MS Office inside out or Adobe CS5 or all of it!...you get the picture. I think there is real confusion about what ICT is supposed to be from Students, Teachers, Parents, Government and the Exam board.
    I don't think there is any doubt that a computing qualification has to be at the core of GCSE's in the future, be that as a seperate qualification like the one being piloted at the moment, or at least 50% content of any ICT qualification. As we know, computing/computer science is what creates and enables us to use the hardware and software that we do.
    However, I except that computing and computer science is a fairly niche area, enjoyed by those who are traditonally good problem solvers, logical thinkers, and who excel at maths. And this means that not every pupil will have the capability to excel at this. So there is still a need for teaching in the use of ICT at home, school and work, with software such as Office products, web design software etc, but I think this needs to be on top of the 'core' computing element, which should be more consistent. All the other stuff can change around it.
    I have worked in University as an IT coordinator, and we would get masses of students (many of whom were studing anything from computer science/engineering to law and medicine) who would need lots of help on spreadsheets, word processing, graphics packages, desk top publishing, presentation software, web design packages etc, because their course or tutors required them to use them, and the level of some of their ICT knowledge/skills was very low, so there is still a need.
    Also, let's not forget, teaching computers (or computing/computer studies IT/ICT) or whatever name it has had, has only been around since the 1970's. The teaching of maths, and its foundations, has been around for 1000's of years. Couple this with the fact that IT/Computing is such a fast changing industry, with constand updates to technology and software, and with new versions every year, its not hard to see why there has been no consistency at all.
    Yes, some of the ICT courses are very boring (we all know them) but we also have to take into account that for most pupils ICT/IT/Computing, as an end user, provides them with entertainment and excitement i.e. PC's,Ipads,the internet, social networking , games consoles, Iphone etc. Sexy, fun products. And they expect that in their lessons, which is going to be pretty hard to replicate.
    We just need a core element and some stability across the qulaifications, or I think it could curtains for us all after this review by Gove is completed...

  10. Crickey... I accept that computing and computer science. It's tirdeness. Honest.
  11. Definitely, it's about time we got back to some of this. What's the point in studying the theory if you can't make the connection to the practical elements and vice versa? (As an example, what are you saving your work onto, the main memory?)
  12. D&T comprises several subjects and so should IT: "Traditional IT"/"Digital Literacy", Computing, and Multimedia.
  13. ICT may not be done as a 'degree' but the skills contained within even the old curriculum are very applicable in a wide variety of areas. So I think it occupies quite a different slot in school compared to traditional maths and english etc.
  14. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    For me, what makes a course "dull" is not its content, but the way it's assessed. When we used to teach GCSE ICT, I thought the content was pretty-much OK, but the coursework element was too large (at 60%) and, frankly, a load of tedious hoop-jumping. More recent courses, such as OCR Nationals and DiDA are much worse in this respect.
    It's also this method of asssessment that leads to school-leavers not having the skills - there's no need for them to do anything more than once and master any skill.
    I think that the best thing for ICT qualifications would be to drop the coursework element and replace it with a "practical" exam (like Functional Skills or BCS). That would lead to a dramatic increase in the amount of lesson time available to do interesting things, but it would also ensure that students who passed the course were actually able to do things for themselves.

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