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


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.

Use of the Internet in Britain.

7 November 2008

From George Siemens newsletter comes reference to the Oxford report on the use of the Internet in Britain.

His headline is that use of smart phones is doubling every two years.

I think mine might be that of people whose education stopped before FE/HE only 55% use the Internet (compared to 78% of those educated to FE level and 90% of those educated to HE level). And that of those who ‘stopped using the Internet’ 28% of men and 40% of women said it was because they had moved house. Maybe the uptake of smart phones will change this… but what will that uptake mean for learning?

Anyway plenty of stats to digest for research or teaching…

NTU research seminar

6 November 2008

Seminar presentation 6/11/08

I was invited to speak in the School of Education‘s research seminar series. Planning the slides linked here has told me that I am far from certain about my research questions!

Rhizomatic Education

31 October 2008

In this article Cormier discusses the ways in which the curriculum may need to change to reflect the new ways in which knowledge is constructed – through networks and communities of learners, as opposed to the traditional model of content transmitted by teachers. There is one reference to assessment where Cormier looks at how the traditional assessment is against that content.

To quote the article

“Information is the foundation of knowledge. The information in any given field consists of facts and figures, such as may be found in the technical reference manuals of learning; in a nonrhizomatic model, individual experts translate information into knowledge through the application of checks and balances involving peer review and rigorous assessment against a preexisting body of knowledge. The peers and experts are themselves vetted through a similar sanctioning process that is the purview, largely, of degree-granting institutions. This process carries the prestige of a thousand-year history, and the canon of what has traditionally been considered knowledge is grounded in this historicity as a self-referential set of comparative valuations that ensure the growth of knowledge by incremental, verified, and institutionally authorized steps. In this model, the experts are the arbiters of the canon. The expert translation of data into verified knowledge is the central process guiding traditional curriculum development.”

The other side of the coin is not discussed but I suspect that in the new ‘rhizomatic’ (and I’m no biologist so the metaphor is lost on me) model has peer and expert assessment. It’s the old thing about how do we know something is good – often because it is valued by those who need to use it (predictive validity as per the discussion at Cambridge – value <=> validity).

Linked from ERN (George Siemens)

Cormier, D (2008) Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum in Innovate, 4, 5, July 2008 [online] available at accessed 31/10/08

Digital Disconnect

29 October 2008

This from Ray Tolley on the Naace mailing list

The ‘digital disconnect’ is alive and well… “kids tell us they power down to come to school.”

More on methodology – the marketing approach

26 October 2008

I wrote recently about the methodology of triple hermeneutics as described by Alvesson and Stöcklund and how it might be relevant to my work. The trail that led to this started with my director of studies’ suggestion that I look at the world of marketing in respect of how it deals with perceptions. This has now led to the writing of  Chisnall (2005). Sure enough in the chapter on “Basic Techniques” there is a discussion of the place of reliability and validity in qualitative and attitude research . I quite like this word ‘attitude’. It helps frame a question ‘What is the attitude‘ of 16-year olds to ICT capability and its assessment. Chisnall says

“The measurement of behavioural factors such as attitudes… has been attempted by a variety of techniques… the ones that are the most reliable and valid from a technical viewpoint generally being the most difficult… to apply” (p234).

Oh well!

Validity for Chisnall consists of content, concurrent and construct validity – so fairly conventional there. One would have expected face validity to be mentioned too, perhaps. He also cites a pamphlet (sic) by Bearden et al (1993) that describes some 124 scales for measuring such things in the field of marketing, consumer behaviour and social research.

Bearden, W, Netemeyer, R & Mobley, M (1993), Handbook of marketing scales: Multi-item measures for marketing and consumer behaviour research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage (in conjunction with the ACR).

Chisnall, P (2005), Marketing research (7th ed). NY: McGraw Hill.