…and what is so boring and damaging anyway?

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.


3 Responses to …and what is so boring and damaging anyway?

  1. Shirley says:

    All good stuff, Pete – I suspect the problem is in how ICT is assessed. My nephew tells me that he sailed through his first year with everything computer-related at university not because of ICT at school (which I suspect he found dull) but because he learned a lot from his hobby, video gaming. Essentially, he ignored school homework in favour of thousands of hours figuring out how to engage with the video gaming world – and it has paid off at university. If only school computing could be as captivating and inspiring, it would be a different world. I note that KS3 ICT could be (and is) taught by non-specialists, which is never a good sign of rigour.

    • petebradshaw says:

      Thanks Shirley. Well yes, but what is a specialist. What would a specialist digital video person look like. It might not be an ICT teacher, it could be a media teacher or someone who is just, well, a specialist. The equating of ‘specialist’ to ‘subject’ is difficult in digital literacy. There are very many excellent teachers of ICT who would not be labelled specialist if you took their own formal education subject disciplines into account.

      • Shirley says:

        You might guess my response, as my total specialist qualification is half an A Level (I did Maths & Computing). A specialist has to have expertise in the field, I think. I know quite a few people who teach ICT who really shouldn’t, as well as others who are actually expert whether or not they have the qualifications. Also, sadly, some who have the expertise and the qualifications but can’t get a job teaching – dare I say because of ageism?

        However, here I am particularly concerned about ICT in KS 3 and 4. Students deserve better than non-specialists – in some cases teachers who actually have no interest, never mind the passion that is needed to make lessons interesting. I think some of them have been pushed unwillingly into teaching ICT (much as I had to teach sex education – yuck!). I agree completely that a media teacher might be brilliant. Formal qualifications are a blunt instrument for measuring expertise.

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