ICT Freedom – With great power comes great responsibility

“Bored” from lanier67 on Flickr

My Twitter feed is full of retweets this morning … “Michael Gove to scrap ‘boring’ IT lessons” from the Guardian.   In his opening speech to the BETT show, Michael Gove will slam the boring and constrictive programme of study that is in place for ICT and will allow schools to choose their own curriculum.

Gone are the days of the drip fed Microsoft Office curriculum and a brave new world is upon us with exciting and dynamic schemes of work that will be updated to reflect current practice.  This new curriculum will serve the needs of all and will pay homage to Turing and inspire a new generation of programmers and other digital professionals.  Or will it?

Don’t get me wrong, as an ICT teacher and former Head of ICT I welcome the freedom but I’m not sure everyone will know what to do with this new found power.  There are lots of excellent professionals who are on Twitter and have already made moves towards developing a dynamic and exciting scheme of work.   The #ictcurric team developed excellent resources and shared them willingly.  But what about the ICT departments who are not engaged in these professional networks?   How do they find out what others are doing?   The concern is that some departments won’t know what is possible so will not push the boundaries.  This situation is made worse by a lack of computing trained professionals in schools who can inspire students and lead them on to independent programming through sites like Microsoft Dreamspark.

The major stumbling blocks in this brave new ICT/Computing world are the examination boards and the qualifications available.  We can provide as much inspiring teaching and as many awesome lessons as possible but whilst you still have exam boards who are awarding marks for using WordArt in coursework (see attached extract from the mark scheme for WJEC A-Level ICT) we are still doomed to be uninspiring when we get to the formal stages.

The exam boards must develop the qualifications to match this new technological freedom and must continue to update the qualification to keep it relevant in an ever changing work.

Finally, to support teachers we need to have more CPD available to staff to get them skilled up in the computing aspects of ICT.  There will always be students who want to push the boundaries of lessons (educationally) and the staff have to be able (and confident) to lead them to the next steps and support them on their journey.

These students are headed for greatness, we just need to ensure they are pointed in the right direction.

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