Freedom?

11 January 2012

Gove’s statement says that

we’re giving teachers freedom over what and how to teach, revolutionising ICT as we know it.

This has to be good but it begs two questions in addition to my main one about how assessment might be reformed.

  • What guidance will the new Teaching Agency give to teacher educators? I hope it will be equally liberating.
  • What will Ofsted do? How will they cope without a ticklist?

My fear is that, as in the late 90s, schools will be inspected under a regime that has certain presumptions about what and how to teach ICT (or computer science). What if the school has a radically different view? I know the obvious answers are to do with looking for quality outcomes in broad terms but I fear a plethora of ‘guidance’ which becomes a de facto curriculum which then leads to exactly the same problems we perceive now.


…and what is so boring and damaging anyway?

11 January 2012

Here are the ‘key processes’ in the National Curriculum  for ICT at KS3. Can you spot the boredom and damage? What would you say was not essential to learning in a digital age?

2.1 Finding information

Pupils should be able to:
a. consider systematically the information needed to solve a problem, complete a task or answer a question, and explore how it will be used
b. use and refine search methods to obtain information that is well matched to purpose, by selecting appropriate sources
c. collect and enter quantitative and qualitative information, checking its accuracy
d. analyse and evaluate information, judging its value, accuracy, plausibility and bias.

2.2 Developing ideas

Pupils should be able to:
a. select and use ICT tools and techniques appropriately, safely and efficiently
b. solve problems by developing, exploring and structuring information, and deriving new information for a particular purpose
c. test predictions and discover patterns and relationships, exploring, evaluating and developing models by changing their rules and values
d. design information systems and suggest improvements to existing systems
e. use ICT to make things happen by planning, testing and modifying a sequence of instructions, recognising where a group of instructions needs repeating, and automating frequently used processes by constructing efficient procedures that are fit for purpose
f. bring together, draft and refine information, including through the combination of text, sound and image.

2.3 Communicating information

Pupils should be able to:
a. use a range of ICT tools to present information in forms that are fit for purpose, meet audience needs and suit the content
b. communicate and exchange information (including digital communication) effectively, safely and responsibly
c. use technical terms appropriately and correctly.

2.4 Evaluating

Pupils should be able to:
a. review, modify and evaluate work as it progresses, reflecting critically and using feedback
b. reflect on their own and others’ uses of ICT to help them develop and improve their ideas and the quality of their work
c. reflect on what they have learnt and use these insights to improve future work.

What is boring is the way it is taught when teachers are forced, by assessment systems, to do tedious tasks.


In out, in out, shake it all about

11 January 2012

So the Gove press release on ICT is released by the Dept for Education. ICT is condemned as boring and harmful. The programme of study is to be scrapped (it sounds like we need Arnold Schwarzenegger to blitz it away).

This is why we are withdrawing [ICT] from September [2012]. Technology in schools will no longer be micro-managed by Whitehall. By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we’re giving teachers freedom over what and how to teach, revolutionising ICT as we know it.

But then the press release says:

ICT will remain a compulsory part of the National Curriculum, pending the National Curriculum review.

How can the PoS be scrapped and it remain in the NC. The NC is the PoS...


ICT is boring… discuss…

11 January 2012

10 HELLO “WORLD”

20 GOTO 10

I think the time is probably right to start blogging again!

For those who do not know the PhD is finished and is in the process of being published in various places (you can get a copy in the Nottingham Trent Library if you wish ;-).

But today sees a culmination of all sorts of pressures on the UK government to reform ICT (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland).  Why this week? Well it is annual BETT show and that’s when these sort of announcements are made. The Guardian news paper/website marks the week by its own campaign for Digital Literacy and this page  (scroll up from the start of the comments) makes a good summary of many of  the ‘pressures’ alluded to above.

The headlines scream “Government to scrap boring ICT”. But is it really boring. My research didn’t find that. I’m sure you could find a sizeable proportion of students who find any subject boring (Latin anyone? Maths?) . ICT is only as boring as teachers allow it to be. But… and this is a big but… a lot of that boredom (in teachers) comes from the qualifications constraining what they teach.

This for me is the crucial thing. Gove’s emphasis on bored teachers teaching bored students is a tad more accurate that simply saying ICT is boring (which is what the headlines say). The use of digital technologies for is rich with potential for excitement and engagement but it falls on the altar of qualifications. The very same qualifications which provide metrics by which schools are measured. We don’t just need to reform the curriculum (actually the National Curriculum for ICT is pretty much ‘open box’ and you can teach a wide range of things in it already) but the the assessment system too. I fear this may be a much harder nut to crack given vested interests in exams and results.

Oh and the answer is not just to introduce programming. Don’t get me wrong, computing and maths are my subject passions – but it coding can be just as boring if the assessment doesn’t allow creativity.