by Terry Freedman, independent ICT consultant for schools
The old ICT Programme of Study has been disapplied, a new one is coming, though nobody is sure what exactly it will look like, and in any case it appears that it will be called ‘Computing’. With the curriculum in this state of flux, does it make sense to start using the Key Stage 3 version of Switched on ICT?
Well, yes it does – and I am not saying that just because I happened to be the Series Editor and contributed to the assessment and other sections! Here are the real reasons.
- First, the shiny new Computing Programme of Study is not yet a ‘done deal’ and the consultation process is ongoing. In any case, you won’t have to start teaching it until 2014. What will you do in the meantime?
- Second, even if the Computing Programme of Study does come into effect looking more or less the same as it does now, you need to bear in mind that the new order of the day is the slimmed-down National Curriculum. What that means is that the Programmes of Study state what the minimum content is to be, rather than the complete content. In other words, you will be expected to build on it.
- Third, a good programmer is one who can see the bigger picture. Quite frankly, most people can be taught to code in a simple way for simplistic tasks, but what about more complex and interesting ones, like creating your own adventure game? That’s just one of the programming modules in Switched on ICT.
- Fourthly, programming should have a context. Without context, a body of code is sterile and meaningless, not much higher up the scale than programming the computer to display “Hello, [your name]!” In SOICT, there are six units directly concerned with programming. Six units equals six different contexts.
- Fifth, digital literacy is important, both to understand the world and to enhance the curriculum. The old ICT Programme of Study was castigated for being ‘boring’ in some people’s opinion – but nothing could be more boring than learning about algorithms and how to code purely as ends in themselves.
- Sixth, if your school teaches ICT in a cross-curricular way, or if you believe that it’s important to have technology used throughout the curriculum, the SOICT books will prove useful. That’s because they suggest numerous ways of making connections with other subject areas.
- My seventh and last point is that I think it’s a thought-provoking and challenging resource. I’ve seen some pretty dire resources over the years, ones in which ‘the’ way of doing something is shown and the ‘correct’ answers provided. SOICT gives plenty of guidance but is also open-ended enough to be used as a starting point or basis for any number of ICT curriculum ‘flavours’.
TagsSwitched On Computing