W(h)ither ICT?

 

I read this blog post by @pixelh8 today about ICT and it got me thinking. I left a comment but want to record my thoughts here as well.

In the post, the author makes the point that ICT is just technology (like pencils are) and that there is a strong case for it ceasing to be a subject in its own right and, like pencils, be something that is subsumed into the rest of the curriculum.

I have some worries about this and they are along the following lines.

In many primary schools, there is a thematic approach taken to learning and this means that ‘subjects’ are often integrated, cross-curricular and, in the perfect world, this would include the effective use of ICT as an embedded tool across curriculum areas – just as pencils are. However, one issue is that although every teacher I have ever come across is a skilled and accomplished user of pencils, the same cannot be said of their use and effective deployment of computers (and other technologies) for learning.

I can hold my hand up and say that I am not the most accomplished musician or artist. However, primary teachers are obliged to teach these subjects. In the hurly-burly of a busy day, week or term I for one might sometimes let something ‘slip’ and, despite best intentions, this might be in an area in which I had slightly less confidence. For me, slippage was sometimes in music or art (to my shame), for others it may be ICT. Isn’t this true also for secondary subject specialists? Their pencil skills are consistent and high-level. How skilled are they in ICT. How readily will a secondary history teacher take to the integration of ICT/technology into their curriculum? Who will monitor this? Who will ensure that there is coverage, progression and appropriate integration happening? real money roulette app iphone

Now, contrast that with a situation in which our class know that on Wednesday mornings we are doing ICT and that this happens every Wednesday morning. This is much harder to avoid and slippage is much less likely. This is not to say that the ICT lesson is the exclusive preserve for the use of technology, or that the curriculum content should be just ‘ICT’ or decontextualised but it is a time when at least we know ICT will happen. If we take that time away, will ICT still happen?

I like the idea of fully integrated, cross-curricular, embedded ICT and I can see where (most of) it can live in other curriculum areas. However, in my experience of schools, staff and approaches to technology I just don’t think we are ready for that yet and we are at serious risk of slippage and doing a huge disservice to the learners. singapore online casino

I may, of course, be wrong. What do you think?

Picture source. Rob Waitling on Flickr

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2 thoughts on “W(h)ither ICT?

  1. Wow, this is exactly where my thinking is at the moment too. I’m encouraging my staff to use more technology in classrooms, but am worried about children’s skill development. I don’t want them to just use technology across the curriculum where and when needed, I want them to also become skilled users of ICT. At the moment we have ICT lessons – every class gets an hour a week. Ideally I’d love kids to have access to technology for at least an hour a day. But during this time, they need to be learning new skills. How to achieve that is tricky. And I agree with you – if ICT loses its subject status, some schools would deliver poorer ICT than they are now.

    One solution to this at the moment that I’m thinking about: an ICT framework of skills that children should develop during their primary years. Teachers access this list, and ensure that whilst their students are using ICT, they’re also focusing on developing a skill/set of skills.

    How do you feel about the ICT suite? Would you rather have ‘mobile classrooms’?

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    • Thanks for your comment, Matt. A framework approach is certainly a good idea but would, I believe, need regular revisiting and some flexibility to respond to rapid changes in technology.

      I know that ICT suites are currently quite unfashionable and I can accept the arguments for getting rid of suites in favour of more mobile/flexible approaches. I am a strong advocate of mixed-economy resourcing so that there is a range of technologies available and learners can select appropriate solutions according to purpose. If the purpose is best met by desk-based PCs in a multi-media suite or centre, then why not? However, a mobile classroom is an eminently effective solution and on a par with a suite.

      Here’s why I like a suite: it elevates the status of ICT, it makes the session ‘special’ in a way. This is brought about just by the physical act of leaving the classroom and going somewhere else to learn (this simple act is surprisingly powerful and the effect can also be noted with PE, swimming lessons etc). The kids know what they’re doing, and when. “This is ICT time.” This is achievable with laptop trolleys (or sets of tablets/ipods) in almost equal measure. “Is it our morning with the netbooks today?”. And this means, as I say above, that ICT is less likely to slip off the radar or out of the children’s learning. For me, I’d also divide time so that sometimes the suite/mobile classroom was for ICT and for other times for cross-curricular learning.

      All of this is making the best of limited resources. If the world was perfect, the youngsters would have the opportunity that many professional adults enjoy – that is the opportunity to choose from a range of devices according to need – smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop etc. It has always seemed unfair to me that whilst preparing youngsters for the world they’ll enter, we still expect them to share computers or devices one-between-two. When did you last do that with a laptop?

      Now, having said all that about the virtues of suites, I have also witnessed some terrible practice in ICT suites where computers are used to babysit groups of children or in which children ‘research’ their topics endlessly with no actual teaching taking place. But that is another rant altogether… virtual blackjack machines for sale

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