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It?s a science, not a skill

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by mybabe, Apr 13, 2008.

  1. This is an interesting one - I'm not sure about the article in TESS, but s a holder of GTCS profssional recognition in ICT I kind of fall towards the teaching of ICT skills within subjects rather than as a subject, for most pupils anyway. A minority may want to study computing at standard grde and higher, but I feel, particularly with GLOW that the place for ICT is on a regular planned basis within subjects, basic skills having been learned at primary or S1.
  2. please excuse the typos - having trouble with his mini-book keypad !
  3. Spot on.

    Perhaps with "just" ICT skills this country will become the India of the future.

    I think HTs, with HMIE breathing down their necks trying to get their schools to match the HGIOS model exactly AND the pressure they are under from councils to "improve" attainment, are dumbing down. That is, "let's get my school's attainment up by ditching all the "hard" subjects and going with the "easy" ones. That way, my school has a better opportunity to improve its attainment figures and I will look super-dooper" (more like super-scooper imho).

    And, let's be honest here, most HTs will do that. And they will do that simply because that's what they're judged against. What HT is going to persevere with the difficult-but-necessary subjects like Computing, and, eg, Physics?

    We will end up in a few years with young people with a wad of qualifications that mean nothing, do not equip them for a job or their journey through life.
  4. Agree with OP. Generalized competence is important for all pupils, but difficult specialisms must be fostered.
  5. Yes great idea why don?t we just teach ICT in every subject, PowerPoint for all anyone? What a bad bad idea.
    I have had a History/Geo teacher ask me how to connect to a printer, a RE teacher asked me to explain email, and how to add an attachment, I also had English block booking "my" room and sending half a class of kids in to use the PC's but not sending any supervision. English also told them to "just print anything that looks interesting and we will look at it later? What 10,000 sheet of paper and all my ink later? Would they tell the kids to photocopy everything in the library? Any questions on copyright?

    Good use of a PC is now an essential to almost every job, what makes people think that they can teach it because the have a PC at home? I read a paper and watch the news do I then say I am a Modern Studies teacher? I like to do a bit of gardening and watch NCIS/CSI so am I now a Biology teacher? It is just not on.

    I was also discussing the fact that Higher Administration is now a very technical and difficult subject (is in not sec studies) and the fact that all Universities now accept it. The reply from SMT was "yes it does appear harder, it might not be a good idea to present so many in the future? She also asked is there really any difference between Administration and Business Management? Yes and until 2 years ago she was also a guidance teacher,

    Yes on you go let?s get shot of the Computing and Business teachers and still pretend we are preparing people for the 21st century.

    Sorry this one makes me a bit angry. Someone like mybabe assuming they can teach my subject because they have a bit of experience with a PC is shocking to me.
  6. "Sorry this one makes me a bit angry. Someone like mybabe assuming they can teach my subject because they have a bit of experience with a PC is shocking to me."

    What a crass statement. Where did I say I could teach ICT ? What i can do, (and I have the GTCS professional recognition for this_have you lokked at what involved in geting this ?)is use use ICT to enhance teaching and learning in my classroom. This involves a lot more than powerpoint (Where did that one come from ? ). I can show kids how to use ICT effectively in my subject. This is a lot more than just 'knowing a bit about computers cos I've got a pc'.
    And those ICT skills are the practical ones that they ned in real life outside of the school gates. Remember these kids are the so-called digital natives but they need direction in focussng their ICT skills. That is better done within subjects I think. I'm currently undertaking a research project on this (due to be published this summer)and most the literature, I have to say, supports the 'within subjects' approach for raising attainment.
    As I have said, I thgink there will always be a place for teaching ICT as a subject, just not in the way it is at the moment for all kids. You should not be so reactionary, News2me. You need to reconsider the last statement of your 'rant' (cut and pasted above). Sometimes it's wise to engage your brain before applying your fingers to the keyboard. Something I'm sure you tell your higher admin students...
  7. ICT/Computing affects so much of our lives these days, be it banking, downloading MP3s, news etc. From that point of view it would be silly to have ICT/Computing as a standalone subject.

    Eg, in my classes I've had pupils do project work on PowerPoint, I've sent them away to do research from their home PCs, I've had them write a wee play and then record themselves on DVD. We need to build these skills into the curriculum to make them relevant to the post-16yo world.

    Many, many teachers have no computing skills at all and that is a poor indictment of teachers in general. Nobody is asking teachers to be computer nerds but merely to have a working knowledge of how to browse effectively for stuff that will help their pupils' learning.

    Now, whether we like it or not, computing/ICT is here to stay and to equip young people to cope in that big bad world out there we have to build it in to more of the curriculum.
  8. horatio1

    horatio1 New commenter

    Speaking as a noncomputing teacher (but I did study computing to first year university level, it appears to me that many non-specialists do not grasp what is actually taught in computing. There is a vast difference between being able to prepare a Powerpoint presentation and understanding how a modern microprocessor works.

    In the Guardian on Saturday, a columnist has compiled a list of the greatest computer games of all time. Several of these were produced by Rockstar games and the paper was keen to point out that this is a Scottish company. How can we expect similar commercial success in the future if our kids can only surf the internet and use Office? I would be prepared to argue that in today's economy, a knowledge of computing is far more useful than (for example) craft and design.
  9. "many non-specialists do not grasp what is actually taught in computing."

    As a non-computing specialist, I agree with this comment. Computer science =/= ICT.
  10. Why do posters equate using ICT with powerpoint ? is that really your understanding of ICT within subjects? I think a few of you need to re-vamp your CPD towards the national priorities. Read HMIe on ICT for a start, and then think ACfE.
    And yes, we will need computer scientists in future, but thats a different matter from kids using ICT. Computing standard grade, Int 2 and higher are niche subjects, much the same as all the sciences.Not everyone will want or need it after school. Using ICT however is different, and thats why within all subjects is the best way to teach these skills, in my view. Please be objective and look at the research if you have time and an interest rather than being so protectionist and isolationist. We teach kids, not subjects.
  11. In the computing departments, at what stage do the pupils begin programming? I'm presuming S3?
    If the powerpoint, word, excel skills were taught throughout the curriculum, wouldn't this give the IT departments more time to concentrate on "real" computing?
    I can undestand people wanting to save their jobs, but from what i can see, most of S1/S2 consists of teaching them to use MS Office. This is time not well spent IMO, as most children can use computer software packages. The S1/2 courses could be ditched in favour of more options for S3/4/5?
  12. Accies1874

    Accies1874 New commenter

    I am glad someone brought this up as it is a topic which has interested me from the start of my teaching career. I believe the frustrating thing for most computing teachers is that many outside the subject do not have a real appreciation for what is being taught in a computing class. As others have pointed out ICT does not = Computing. I will try to explain.

    When I teach S1/S2 I devote most of my single period per week to teaching about applications such as the word processor, presentation package, internet browser and other packages which would be seen as the ?ICT skills?. Now in my view these skills are useful for my pupils in their lives whether they use them in their continuing education, career or just to access information. However, the ?computing? is really the thinking skills that are being taught as we learn, apply, compare and problem solve within the computing contexts that the applications provide.

    When this key difference is not understood and HTs decide that the ICT can be taught within other subjects at the expense of time within the computing class then I am afraid that those opportunities for pupils to build up the really important thinking skills are diminished. Subjects should of course being using ICT where there is a real benefit and supporting pupils in developing their ICT skills, just in the same way as we should all be supporting numeracy and literacy, but there is no way that computing as a subject should be marginalised as a result.

    Mr Z: programming is sometimes taught in S1/2 but interestingly it my opinion that it is better to have taught the problem solving process within simple applications such as the word processor first before launching into programming.
  13. Interestin points, particularly post 12. this is what HMIe had to say about ICT in teaching and learning in their latest publication on the subject...

    "Secondary schools? interpretation of the 5-14 guidelines was at times unduly influenced by the
    professional interests of computing studies or business studies teachers. As a result, in a few
    schools, all learners had to develop simple computer programs or understand the working of a
    central processing unit, knowledge and competence that contributed little to their broad range
    of ICT skills for learning and life. Very few schools included appropriate educational use of mobile
    phones, digital cameras or portable music players in their programmes of ICT skills development"

    Very telling, and very true, I think..
  14. Accies1874: "programming is sometimes taught in S1/2 but interestingly it my opinion that it is better to have taught the problem solving process within simple applications such as the word processor first before launching into programming."

    What problem solving skills would you cover with a word processing package?
  15. Accies1874

    Accies1874 New commenter

    MR Z: Good question. The way I break it down, in common with probably all computing teachers, is to give pupils to opportunity to work through 5 distinct stages:

    First they would analyse the work that they wish to present. For example, they would define the nature of the text and who the intended audience is and what characteristics they are looking for at the end.

    They would then design on paper and justify the layout of the page taking into consideration the features available within the package. Maybe decide between Tables vs. TABs. They may even refine steps by explaining in detail how they would go about solving particular problems

    Implementation comes next with them using the plan to guide them in word processing the document.

    Then we have testing which comes from printing off the page examining it for mistakes and correcting them or possibly redesigning aspects before changing the implementation.

    Finally they carry out an evaluation by looking at the final product and comparing it to the analysis carried out at the start.

    As I am sure you can appreciate all of these stages are used when programming.
  16. "What problem solving skills would you cover with a word processing package?"

    Here's a simple problem solving task, how do they layout information in a WP document maybe using tables, tabs.

    You'd be surprised how many first year pupils (and beyond) rather than using these features will just space along a line until they reach the same part of every line so it looks like it starts at the same bit.
  17. Post 17.

    "Here's a simple problem solving task, how do they layout information in a WP document maybe using tables, tabs"

    Hardly a problem solving task, more knowledge and understanding of a software package.

    Surely if pupils haven't been taught how to use tabs and tables then they will use whichever technique they do have knowledge of to move along a line.
  18. Accies1874

    Accies1874 New commenter

    That is a good point Durkin and I agree that in order to solve a problem pupils have to build up knowledge, but you are forgetting that we are aiming not just for the pupil to apply knowledge, but also be able to apply it to create the best solution.

    Taking the example of presenting information in rows and columns I would expect my pupils to compare using the space bar, tabs and tables. Once they have compared they should select and justify their decision of which to use against a set of criteria such as how easy it is to do, quickness and accuracy for example.

    I am sure that we all find that pupils can find comparing, selecting and justifying difficult skills to master and by giving pupils the chance to explore these within a technical problem solving context has benefits across the curriculum.
  19. But you are all focussing on the technology rather than the pedagogy (posts 15-19). The whole point of using ICT is to be able to use it in non-ICT connected ways. This is the point that schools need to address. This and the pedagological shift that occurs when using ICT from didactic dispensation of knowledge to learning facilitator. this is what ACfE is all about and its why ICT within subjects can play such an important part in its roll out. The stuff S1's and S2's and indeed P7's learn in ICT lessons could be incorporated into subjects rather than being taught in isolation as ICT lessons.
    Specialist computing lessons in S3, 4, 5, and 6, maybe. Any level lower than this, no. All teachers have the skills to do this (SFR) if not then they need to examine the reasons for not updating their skills to meet this set of benchmarks.
  20. "The stuff S1's and S2's and indeed P7's learn in ICT lessons could be incorporated into subjects rather than being taught in isolation as ICT lessons.

    Many EA (my own included) have been advocating learning through ICT since the days of NOF. Unfortunately, most teachers erroneously looked upon NOF as skills training and as a result - it failed in most EAs.

    Sadly, it is far easier for a teacher to pick a card from Folens (or any other ICT Scheme of work) and concentrate solely on skills development out of context than it is to plan when it is appropriate to use ICT within the curriculum and what skills could be developed. Some EAs (Dundee, Fife, Midlothian) have spent a great deal of effort looking at planning models which make it easier for ICT to be embedded into the curriculum. Many teachers also fail to understand that if they are teaching data handling through using a spreadsheet or database then they have no need to do the pages in Hienemann P7 which covers his. So they end up doing the same thing twice - once the traditional way and once using ICT.

    Interesting that you only mention S1, S2 and P7. Many schools embed ICT across the curriculum and across all stages.

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