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Rethinking ICT #ICT500

Inspired by Chris Leach‘s collaborative model for Rethinking ICT.

There are few things in the world which are likely to drive more wedges between the teaching community than someone saying, “but you have to teach X in this way” … no matter whether it is a central figure from which Department looks after schools, a self-nominated individual with an agenda or axe to grind, media groups (whichever medium it goes over) or pushy interest groups (whether they be ‘industry’, parental or community groups) … and we should be careful not to fall into any ‘pushy’ category when thinking about rethinking the future of ICT in schools.

There are lots of people with a wide range of knowledge and expertise who can help people find a range of suitable options … and that, to me, appears to be the crux of the matter … lots of possible options.

Whilst we are rethinking ICT we need to accept that this will cover such a wide area that there will be so many options and variations that we are unlikely to say that x or y is the perfect model. Neither should we …

Recent conversations in groups like Computing at Schools has looked at things like which is the best language to program in … and it is starting to sound a little like the argument about what is the best office package, what is the best video editing package, do you need middleware like RM’s CC3/CC4 or can you manage a vanilla network and just stick in a few extra tools if needed?

I’ve long been a firm advocate for transferable skills where possible but accepting that there are certain applications which are beneficial to learn for commercial / career prospects. In the same way I used to practice Judo and have a wide range throws available to me, I also knew that certain techniques worked better at various national levels of competition and so would focus on these in training and application. In a similar way I have experienced that whilst the dogmatic training approach in the Armed Forces tends to be delivered by rote (and learned as such) it also leaves open doors for further development of adaptable soldiers (and is often a tool for spotting leadership).

And yet if I was to suggest an area that people should consider when rethinking ICT it would be that whilst we know that poorly taught ICT is poor, we also have to accept that not all ICT can be whizzbang. In the same way sports stars, artists and musicians might have hours of mundane skill honing repetitive activities, we should be ready to accept that even as a top coder you are likely to be churning out code … not inventing new ideas every single day. There is nothing wrong with mundane or minor activities … it can be what makes the world go round. It does not mean we should accept poor teaching, but it does mean we should not over-hype it all either.

2 replies on “Rethinking ICT #ICT500”

Hi Tony

Interesting post which correctly identifies IMO the complexities underlying current discussion about ict and computing and uk schools. When boring ict is headlined, there is no mention of any other subject being boring. And yet I am unaware of any subject wherein there is not a similar dialogue about achieving more engagement and stimuli for young learners.

I like to keep things as simple as possible. Learning is a combination of many things but two elements are the collaborative discussion work and the solo pursuit of the hard yards in analysing and interpreting existing knowledge and developing your own response to a line of inquiry.

This takes many tools and skills and discipline which, in some cases, can only be arrived at through many hours of mundane processing.

We are taking ict teaching across the curriculum next year. An ambitious team-teaching project. I will be looking to see if we can avoid casualties of a new way of doing things. Still inspire the young technologists (as we do discretely now) as well as inspiring a deep and broad interrogation of the specialist subject.

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