This post is a response to Chris Leach’s invitation to write 500 words about Rethinking the ICT curriculum. Others including Miles Berry and @grumbledook have also blogged their thoughts.
Chris is also hosting an event where we can come together to share ideas and thoughts. Details can be found here. My comments below relate only to the primary curriculum as that is what I do! (it’s also over 500 words, but hey…)
Writing about my thoughts for changing ICT is a difficult process. On one hand I think that there isn’t much to change, after all we can teach ‘anything we like’ at the moment. I’ve taught children to make greenscreen videos, we’ve discussed and used Twitter in the classroom, we’ve Skype-d with Santa and we make our own games and we haven’t been chastised for this. We weren’t really following the National Curriculum, but all of those things we’ve done can be linked if you try hard enough. On the other hand, we need to do something about the schools who ‘do Office’.
I’ve written before about changing my ICT curriculum and to be honest, all of it can be covered under the current National Curriculum and all of it can still be used under whatever new curriculum comes out. I just looked at what I would want my learners to have. I want them to know that there are a range of tools out there that do the same job, or different jobs or a bit of a mixture. I try to include ‘new’ stuff like blogging as well as traditional stuff like ‘being able to do a presentation’. But when we present we work on how to present and not just how to add animation and effects. It’s all very subtle changes but that’s what will work. My planning is slowly moving on to www.ictplanning.co.uk - I don’t think it’s groundbreaking, but it might help someone.
I don’t buy into this current craze of wanting a huge emphasis on coding and programming in the curriculum. Yes it should be included, but it shouldn’t be the main driver. Children today want instant results and the thought of spending hours writing lines of code before seeing an end product would bore many of them, and their teachers. We use 2Do It Yourself which is a fabulous way of including game design with a bit of coding as it gives the children a graphical view of their game instantly. They can design it, try it our and refine it as they need to. For us, this is the building block before they move on to Scratch and Kodu.
Another problem is the staff. Teachers are worried that they need to know how everything works before the children can use it. How many teachers in a normal school would want to learn programming to then pass it on to the children? Now in an ideal world the teachers would be happy not knowing how something worked and giving the children the chance to explore and learn for themselves, but we all know that this doesn’t happen. One day maybe, but we’re not there yet.
Also, people often say “my 3year old can use my ipad, but at school he won’t be near a computer til he’s 6″ or whatever are missing the point. Yes your children can use a device, but in school we often just have PCs. Until schools have a range of devices to allow children a chance to explore different things, we will be ‘stuck’ with using PCs. And why don’t we have a range of devices? Often it is money. However I know a school that has bought a whole set of ipod touches but isn’t letting the staff or children use them yet until the staff are trained. Again it comes back to staff confidence which the more I think about it, the more I think that it could be the biggest issue.
How do we get our staff confident and comfortable trying new things?
How do we get them willing to let the children potentially fail first, and then succeed later?
How do we keep them informed of new developments and new websites to help them? Many of them won’t go on Twitter (I’m the only one in my school on it)
In this time of change and uncertainty, I don’t worry about schools with people like me, leading the ICT and finding out about new ideas. I worry about schools like the one I visited last week. They had very recently had an ICT inspection from Ofsted who has graded them good with outstanding features for ICT yet when I spoke to the children about ICT they said we ‘do Word, PowerPoint, Excel and sometimes if we’re good, drawing’. Those are the schools that we need to support and focus on. They need to be shown the light and shown the way forward.
How do we do that?
I don’t know. Answers on a postcard…oh wait, stamps have gone up in price, just comment below. It’ll be free.