lessons

Is it time to rebrand ICT?

This blog was originally published by The Guardian on 30th May 2012 and is an update of a previous post on this blog.

When I did my GTP several years ago I did next to no training in computing. As we all know the curriculum was very much ICT-based and that was fine with me. The skills I have very much fitted in with the curriculum I had to teach.

Things are now changing. Gove has told teachers that they don’t have to stick to the old curriculum. Over the past year and a half I have been able to teach my own curriculum anyway, as I have moved to an independent school. But it has been made very clear there is a need to teach computing in schools before KS4.

I agree this should happen, and it’s very exciting. However, it is also quite intimidating. I have spent almost seven years (including my training) teaching ICT with very little computing. Where do I go from here? Well, I have already started teaching visual programming usingKodu. I am also in the middle of writing a computer science scheme of work to be delivered next year. This will teach students how computers, smartphones and tablets work.

Is this enough? Like many ICT teachers I do not have a lot of curriculum time compared to other subjects. It would be a shame if state schools were forced to drop ICT and only deliver computing because of a lack of time. In fact, we would be doing our students a disservice.

Like many others I need guidance.

My biggest worry is programming. The reason I didn’t choose programming at university was because I find it very difficult. For me it is like learning a new language. I am very much of the opinion programming is not for everyone. Although, I understand it is very important.

I am sure there are other teachers like me who do not program. If the government want programming in schools they are going to need to stump up some money for training courses.

There is a danger that if teachers need retraining, courses will be supplied by large corporations like Microsoft or Google. Can we trust them to give teachers the training they need or will they simply take the money and create training that directly benefits them?

However, over the last few weeks I have been using Codecademy to learn Java Script and to become more proficient in HTML and CSS. This is free and has been fantastic. Hopefully, this will allow me to deliver more programming next year. Perhaps we do not need to pay for training and we can train ourselves?

If all students were taught to be programmers throughout their school lives would we find masses of them out of work? There are only so many jobs available. The people who will benefit the most will be those paid to write computing courses.

There has to be room for both ICT and computer science.

Students should able to choose between the two, certainly at KS4 or 5. After all students are able to choose which languages they learn or sciences they study.

We need both to be exciting and engaging. Teachers in different schools need to be sharing resources and schemes of work. Many are already, certainly the teachers I know. If we are to change the way ICT is perceived we need to be constantly evolving. If we want to incorporate computer science into schools we need innovative ways to teach it communicated to all.

Conferences like the Guardian Teacher Network’s Teaching Computer Science in Schools are important ways for people in education to get together and discuss what the future holds. These are great as long as teachers are allowed to get time out of school. I fear many may not.

I would also very much like to rebrand ICT, for me it is old fashioned. Perhaps “digital literacy” would be more appropriate?

There are several teachers who I follow on Twitter working on Digital Studies. Is that the rebrand we need? I don’t think there is one answer but I would certainly like to rebrand ICT at my school.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to including computer science into my curriculum. It is intimidating but a great opportunity for personal development. Now I must find the time to teach myself what I now must deliver. Finding the time in an already incredibly busy job may be toughest task of all.

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Should all Students Learn how to Touch Type?

Are we preventing our students from being productive users of computers by not teaching touch typing? I think perhaps we are.

The question is; who teaches it and when will it be taught?

My thoughts are that it should not be taught in ICT lessons. Being able to touch type goes beyond ICT and is for many, a requirement for everyday life. But then, who does teach it? I don’t have an answer I am afraid, but would love to hear people’s opinions.

Should students have this skill before secondary school? Do we need to teach it at primary level, and can we expect students to be able to adopt these skills so early on? I see touch typing as asking students to write, without actually teaching them how to use a pen.

With the amount of work students do on computers I think that this skill is vital.

There is no doubt in my mind that many students (and teachers) who would find learning this skill very boring. I am pretty sure we can make it exciting. Especially with the adoption of gamification.

I am not suggesting that typing is now more important than writing, only that it is a skill that warrants teaching.

However, after saying all this, I cannot touch type, but I wish I had been taught. (I am quite fast, but not as fast as I would like to be) It’s on my list of things to do.

There are many schools, I am sure, who do teach touch typing. If you do I would love to hear from you. At present I am trying to see if I can work this into the curriculum myself, this maybe the biggest challenge.

Graphic Design (ALBUM COVERS) Year 9/3rd Year – Example Work

I have been teaching graphic design since I started my teaching career 6 years ago.

My favourite project has always been designing album covers. The students love it and really take ownership of the project as they get to pick the artist.

At present we are using Adobe Firework to create the album covers. Images are edited, combined with several other images, then text and layer effects are added. My plan this year was to use Photoshop, but after we upgraded to the latest software we had a few issues (which have now been resolved) so I stuck with Fireworks.

Next year we shall use Photoshop, although the design principals are the same whatever application you use.

Here are few examples, there is some amazing work here and I wanted to share it.

Enjoy!

iPad Apps for the Classroom (Presentation included)

iPad

We have been looking into the use of iPads in lessons and considering the possibility of buying a class set as a trial.

I am excited about this and think its a great move forward.

However, how will we use them? What Apps will we use?

As many people do not own one and some have not used one I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of Apps we could use. Rather than simple say they need to be used for this lesson or that lesson, I thought it would be better to just say what the Apps can do. This way, people can come up with their own ideas.

This list is not definitive and there are a loads of Apps I could have mentioned. It just contain information on several Apps I think would be great for the classroom.

The Google Docs presentation is below. You can view the Sky Drive version here.