ICT: An embedded specialism?

16 January 2012

One of the threads that is emerging, as the curriculum for ICT and Computer Science is revamped, is the multiple natures of the uses of digital technologies for learning. There are the existing ICT curriculum – very broad – specialist aspects of programming, algorithmic thinking, systems design. There is creative media, there’s games-based learning. The list is long and is a different list is drawn up by each person who considers it.

I think a useful approach to this is to consider which uses of digital technology might be embedded elsewhere in the curriculum. When the National curriculum was first drawn up in England in 1988 ICT/IT did not exist. It was part of technology. Government announcements seem to be moving back to ‘technology’ as the catch all term. Indeed the consultation announced by Naace and ALT for Dfe has the URL schoolstech.org.uk. This view has ICT/IT embedded in technology. It didn’t work, of course, as much of the curriculum of ICT/IT was at odds with the rest of the subject and in 1995 it was split out leaving ‘Design and technology’. But there seems, to me, to be some merit in looking at how parts of ICT/IT might be aligned with other subjects. And one is reminded that Maths and Computing were conjoined in schools specialism.

So if the creative media aspects were aligned with English and taught by English and ICT specialists would this give greater ‘rigour’ to the subject? Not here that I do not advocate the removal of the ICT specialists but that they work in other subjects. Perhaps the rigid structure of ICT-as-subject with the concomitant few-teachers-teaching-all-pupils and atomised schemes of work has led to the poor perception of the subject. Maybe rich, demanding digital technology in other subjects could help to redress that. But only if it was properly embedded. The NC once had statements that said that all subjects had responsibility for ICT. But it was never ‘enforced’ and eventually it was removed. We shouldn’t make that mistake again.