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Peter Twining started his session by restating that the Disapplication of the current ICT Programmes of Study (POS) will begin in September 2012, with a new curriculum expected in September 2014. The DFE and Vital recognise that “Digital” changes everything, ever job, every discipline. For these reasons, change is necessary.
However, Michael Gove
has been less than kind about ICT and its teachers, despite the fact that in
primary schools, 2/3 of schools are judged good or outstanding based on the
most recent OFSTED data (2008). At secondary, this drops to under ½ of all schools
are good or outstanding. It seems that GCSE ICT is a disaster. The Royal
Society went on to state that “Every child needs to be digitally literate by
the end of compulsory education.” The Royal Society at no point mentions that
“computer science” is compulsory, rather a combination of all the ICT strands,
which are displayed in the image below.
Note that the three
strands of ICT are defined as Computer Science, IT and Digtial Literacy. One of
the reasons why computer science should not be delivered discretely as a
compulsory is because there are simply not enough people to deliver it.
It is worth noting
that the current QCDA was and still is just guidance and actually the POS has
and always will remain open. Teacher have done and still can teach any of the
three strands and still meet the QCDA guidance.
Disapplication (Sept 2012)
There was no guidance
from Gove as to what we should now do, he referred to a WIKI curriculum,
however much of this is incomplete. There are no success criteria or attainment
targets in which to judge the success of teaching. Therefore, many schools will
not deliver ICT, despite it being a legal requirement. Whilst it is true, that
in a general school inspection, Ofsted will not inspect ICT; it is still unwise
to completely drop ICT from your school’s curriculum. Come 2014, ICT will be a
foundation subject and if school’s have discontinued ICT from their school,
there will be a huge skills shortage in both staff and students. Please ensure
that your students do not lose their entitlement to ICT, do not slow down or
New ICT Curriculum (Sept 2014)
Peter Twining strongly
restated that the subject should not change its name. Simply because something
is not working, changing the name will not change anything. We have worked hard
to build the name of “ICT” in the UK. Previously, many countries around the
world would only use the term “IT”, but now on Twitter and in all educational
journals and books published in the UK, “ICT” is the common term for our
In 2014, the
curriculum will be much thinner as a foundation subject. It is likely that the
POS will be 1 side of A4. Indeed the POS and the attainment targets will
probably be merged, with no level descriptors. Peter predicts that Gove will
not tell you what to do, he will merely set high level attainment goals.
As a discipline, we
need a united voice to succeed, rather than disagreeing and pushing particular
views. Peter said all parties need to unite under the same banner of “ICT”:
CAS, NAACE, ITTE, #DigitalStudies . The worst case scenario of a fragmented
voice would be a compromised curriculum which is agreed by all parties and
their vested interests.
Peter also discussed
following a model like science, where you would have a National Curriculum for
KS1 to KS3, followed by discrete sciences at KS4 i.e. Bio, Chem, Phy. In ICT,
we could follow the same structure, specialising in either IT, Comp Sci or
Media Studies at KS4. Incidentally, creative arts (Photoshop, video editing,
special effects, animation and compositing) would all fall into the media
studies bracket and during this two year period, could be taught by Art
teachers as well as ICT teachers with the skills.
Who will lead?
Teaching schools and
the New Technology Advisory Board (NTAB)
The NTAB will steer
and co-ordinate the curriculum in the next three years. Why? Because DFE will
not (be able to) do it.
Peter also revealed
new features of the Vital website, including the evidence hub where research
meets practice. Whilst there are some schools leading in shaping the future of
Bring Your Own Devices
(BYOD): Students bring their own device, register their MAC address and the
they can use their device in school. This has been successfully deployed by Saltash .Net Community School
Bring Your Own Tech
(BYOT): You can bring your own tech into school and it simply works.
Vital wanted to hear
from more schools where such schemes are working. He urged people to sign up to
Vital. Free codes will be distributed to all conference attendees in the near
future. Teaching schools would also get a discount to Vital membership.
Do not lose ICT
capacity now, otherwise 2014 will be a shock
Computer Science is a
specialism at KS4, it is not the be all and end all.
Miles Berry leads ICT education at the University of Roehampton and is also the chair of NAACE. Miles is a real story teller and as such, it is almost impossible to make notes and reflect how truly awe-inspiring his talks are. He managed to introduce 3 big ideas in his talk which completely blew me away.
blocks for education
of the Pedagogue-the Greek Etymology of the word being “a slave who took a
child to a place of learning”.
3)3 ways of
learning: Play, Reading manuals/tutorials, Talking/socialising
that the 6 ingredients for a good computer game could also be used for
Code Club is an after school club started by two highly-motivated young ladies, Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik. Their aim is to teach every child to code. Linda brought forward the strong point that every child can and should learn to code, even if they didn’t want to become a programmer, computer scientist or games designer. People learn how to cook eventhough they don’t want to become professional chefs. People learn Maths, English and Science until the age of 16, even though they may not wish to pursue careers in any of these fields.
Two key selling points
for coding are that 1) It teaches you about problem solving and 2) It’s fun.
Yes, it’s fun and the
two founders know how to have fun. Look at this video that they created:
They don’t (need to)
worry about assessment. And this is a key thing about code club. Linda is
originally from Norway but was educated in England. In fact I studied in the
same Department of Computer Science as her at Warwick University. We graduated
one cohort apart. And whilst Warwick is an excellent university, Warwick
suffers from the same “testing-based” curriculum that all UK universities
suffer from. Linda went as far to claim that when she studied Digital Media at
Hyper Island in Sweden, she learnt far more from her one and a half years there
than her three years at Warwick, partly because of the non test-based structure
of the course. She learnt to fail, and to fail often. I agree this is a major
area of the UK curriculum which needs an overhaul. This needs to start from Primary education
however, not just at University.
In less than a year,
Code Club has secured 1436 volunteers and
120 schools have
registered their interest. That’s pretty incredible growth; Pintrest, Twitter
and Instagram better watch out!
They mainly teach
through Scratch, a free piece of software
with a GUI that teaches users the importance of Syntax and the fundamental
building blocks of coding. One thing I didn’t know is that you can hit
<Share> on a Scratch game and that gives you a URL to share with your
family and friends. That’s awesome!
After user-testing her
projects on kids, Linda went further than most people in hacking Lego
Mindstorms to accept her Scratch instructions through an Arduino! James Stuttard also
later mentioned the Panther extension which gives even more advanced features.
Alan restores faith into those who feel that they have been left behind by the speed at which the ICT and computing express train has moved in the past 24 months. Alan had no programming experience, but two years ago, he decided he would learn how to code and would try to raise the profile of computing in his local school and community. His idea was to run #Hackdays. His motto was “Hack to the future”. Alan is overly modest with his achievements and he documents his successes on a blog.
One of Alan’s aims was
to try to motivate students and instill a passion for computing so that they would choose GCSE computing as an
option subject. An example of his success is the running of Dojo’s where
students come and code and learn about computing in a Friday after-school club.
He also decided to take his students to a bar camp, inspired by a father who
controversially brought his son to a bar camp. At the hack to the future event
in Preston, 360 people attended. A mixture of teachers parents and students
attended, all keen to learn about computing! It was a real sight to behold.
He has also
collaborated with Freaky Cloud and taught students how to hack. He claims not
to have done any teaching himself at the “Hack to the future event”. Instead
partner organisations such as Mozilla were at hand to run sessions, similar to
those run at Mozilla hackspace. Enthusiastic as ever, he reinforces Peter Twining’s message (refer to
earlier post) that we should not wait. Do not wait for Gove. Make stuff happen
and things will happen to you.
After much hype behind the Raspberry PiHe decided to
create an event called Raspberry Jam The idea is similar to a musical jam where
people who have instruments bring their own and people who don’t have
instruments come along to watch/listen or play all the same. Raspberry Jam is
an implementation of a CAS hub. The requirements are simple. All you need is:
He started with a
small project which he knew would not fail. In fact it was his daughter’s
project. @Rosie_Pi was a big fan of
hammer beads. She had made video games characters before and so she taught a
sessions which introduced the idea of pixels and all attendees in effect
created pixel art. Some reproduced Mario characters, others consoles such as
the iconic Nintendo Gameboy. He urged us all to do the same, to run an event-
Start small, start simple. All we need to do is start something:
Simon is the co-ordinator of CAS . He likens computer science to music. Just because we know how to code, it does not mean we can teach computer science. In the same way that just because you can play the piano well, it does not mean that you can teach music. He outlined a very shocking statistic that 34% of ICT teachers have no post A-Level qualification in ICT. This simply would not happen in any other subject.
He also clarified a
point made earlier by Peter Twining that Computer Science != Programming. i.e.
The two are not the same thing and programming will not solve our future
problems in computer science or indeed ICT. He fears that what students
currently suffer from on regular occasions (Death by Powerpoint) will merely be
replaced by Death by Scratch or Kodu, Java, Python. In many cases ICT is taught
better in other subjects than it is in ICT lessons. Many ICT teachers have
forgotten the purpose/motivation behind teaching skills and merely teach skills
arbitrarily to tick boxes/pass exams. Simon states that the point of a lesson
should be about abstraction of a concept or key skill and then decomposition of
that skill so that it can be applied in different scenarios.
He argues that
Computer Science is discipline, like Medicine it has a body of knowledge, school
techniques, it is a subject it is economically important and educationally
important. And the most empowering thing is, that in the same way that anyone
can learn to play a musical instrument, anyone can learn programming and the
skills required to teach computer science. We are all teachers and indeed,
there are very few teachers like the media make out-who are lazy and just work
for their long holidays. In the same way that our student can learn new skills
so can we. If you don’t believe Simon, I can give you a quick case study.
So it is possible to learn as both a teacher and a student.
Going back to how we
can avoid “Death by Scratch”, Simon says that we have ask students to explain
their code. Not in the Death by Printscreen fashion, but rather through
peer-to-peer and student-teacher dialogue. Students can also use free screencapture software.
Twining’s message once again, Simon stated that although ICT is a damaged
brand. Changing its name won’t change anything. Like formerly failed brands
such as Cadbury’s, Kate Moss and Primark. A genuine change (and seriously
clever marketing) can easily sway public opinion!
There are CAS hubs all
over the UK. CAS is in 500 schools and there is bound to be events at a hub
near you. So what are you waiting for? We have to make this change happen and
we have to act together.
Lunch at conferences is always an interesting affair. For the vegans out there, they usually end up starving and so resort to popping down to the local café or getting out a lunchbox which they had already prepared. It is also clear which teachers have a decent canteen at school and which clearly do not. I walked past one delegate, sat on his own (he had clearly ran to the front of the lunch queue) and without exaggerating, he had at least 15 items (wraps, sandwiches, buns) piled high on his plate. It was clear which group he fell into and he certainly got his money’s worth from this CPD!
After lunch, we made our way into the Guardian Education Centre which is headed up by Margaret Holborn and her colleague Ellie. Margaret and Ellie run sessions practically every day, where school groups can come into the Guardian and learn to use Print and Video editing software that are actually used by the Guardian team every day. Access to the centre is at no cost and for this reason, you have to book one year in advance. Speaking from experience, this is certainly a worthwhile trip to plan for your school calendar. It has worked well for both Year 8 and Year 12 students at our school.
We also had the opportunity to chat to developers at Guardian. A friendly bunch, which held very mixed views with regards to Computer Science in schools; they were willing to answer our questions honestly. Here are some highlights:
Students will always ask “Why I am learning this?” or “How does it help me in my life?” It is no longer acceptable to reply along the lines of “It’s on the curriculum” or simply “Because I say so”. So as teachers of ICT, we have the perfect opportunity to teach whatever you want i.e. whatever you feel will be useful for your students when they enter the world of work/higher ed. Clearly, if at this point, you think it’s still OK to teach Powerpoint skills for more than 3 years in a row, then you are slightly deluded. There are so many excellent practitioners such as Genevieve Smith-Nunes, Matt Britland,Peter Kemp-All teaching interesting skills such as Animation using Blender, Coding using Kodu, Game Design using Stencil and Mission Maker, Music Video Production using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. There is no reason why you shouldn’t ditch that dull unit on “Databases” or “Powerpoint Revisited” next year.
We asked the panel what their ideal curriculum would contain and these were their thoughts:
-An understanding of why computing and the internet works. How communication technology works e.g. The Internet and E-mail
-An understanding of why things go wrong i.e. why things fail, how to fail and how to recover
-Some theory e.g. What is an algorithm. Which can be easily understood by using the example of how to make a cup of tea.
-A study of “What does a self driving car look like” and an evaluation of “Why this study of self driving cars is important”-There are obvious implications like the laws of robotics, the technology required, challenges to be overcome etc.
-Doing things with quick feedback e.g. Coding-Not only is feedback quick, but it is private as well. No one see’s you fail.
-DO NOT JUST TEACH MS OFFICE ALONE
-Code their own website (You can start with Weebly and embed code from other sites). Learning HTML and CSS is also a good start.
-Testing and quality assurance-understanding the user needs and running both automated tests and unit tests. Thankfully, this sounds a lot like Unit 14 of OCR Applied ICT.
The panel also talked about the CSWG, a working group (The CS does not stand for Computer Science) which has a period of 2 hackdays every 3 months. These 2 days give the team a chance to develop ideas and present them back to the group. Ideas can then be voted upon and implemented in the Guardian. Many of the ideas born out of these Hackdays are implemented on the beta site:
A delegate commented on similar hackdays aimed specifically at girls, which are obviously the more under-represented gender in computer science. These hackdays are run by RewiredState . Aimed at girls with no experience of coding. Languages such as Python were a popular one amongst delegates first learning to program. And whilst code academy offers great free resources for adults, most felt the code avengers was more suitable for students.
The session got me thinking about independent challenges that we run in our school. These are set by each subject. Idea’s for ICT at our school include:
1-Build your own website using www.weebly.com
3-Storyboard, Plan, Film and Edit your own short film or music video
4-Make your own game using Kodu, download it to an xbox 360. Get friends to play it and offer you feedback for improvements.
“98% of Google engineers were
exposed to computing at school”
Peter started his talk with this
statistic to re-emphasise the fact that we cannot simply expect students to
learn computing at home on their own, they must be exposed to it at school. But
what happens, if as an ICT teacher you have little/no computing skills. Well to
start with, it’s never to late to start learning. Peter started learning
Blender a Free 3D animation program which is similar to Maya /3D Studio Max. He
then exposed his students to it and they created this stunning animation for
the Manchester University Animation Competition. Based on Peter’s introductory
course as to how to make a cup, students taught themselves and relied on
Peter’s network to create their animation in less than 3 months:
Peter’s expert which
helped facilitate the course was called Tom. He is a Doctoral Researcher in AI
at Queen Mary Universtiy. Of course, this was a great help, but what if we
don’t have a large network?
2)Sign up to
links professionals with school. There is no shortage of professional
volunteers, but there is a shortage of schools! Computing Plus Plus also do CRB
checks for you through STEMNET.
Has lots of groups such as BT IT ambassadors, Girl Geeks, Video Games
Ambassadors, E-Skills UK. Which will all be willing to offer help and advice
for your students
Ambassador Scheme e.g. KCL and 15+ other universities have student volunteers
doing outreach work with schools all over the UK
Peter’s advice for how
to write to professionals is to simply be bold and ask. People are looking for
solutions, not problems. Give them a date and what you need from them. The
worse they can say is “No”.
Peter restated that
for Outstanding computing, we need just 3 ingredients: