Thursday, 15 December 2011

ICT Classes are Boring - Its Official

As I have suspected from learning what my own children do in their ICT lessons and what I have seen in schools; ICT lessons aren't really up to scratch. Recently my partner visited a school and was shown the work of a GCSE A grade student, who was using a desktop publishing package. Her impression was that work was about the same level as our 10 year old. Okay, we have a pretty adept 10 year old, but even so...

ICT is a subject that is important for me: from my first fumblings with a ZX Spectrum (actually, I did have a girl friend) through 20 years of working in e-Learning. During that time, ICT has shifted from what nerds do to pretty much a basic skill. So how is the next generation getting on? Well Ofsted paints a pretty bleak picture. According to a recent report, only 31,800 students attempted the ICT examination compared with 81,100 in 2007, while there has also been a reduction in the number of entries at A-level ICT.

As Chief Inspector Miriam Rosen states, “In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way.” The report states the standards were inadequate in nearly a fifth of 167 schools inspected during the last three years, with secondary schools singled out as struggling with ICT.

So what can be done? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get beyond simple PowerPoint: Putting together slides isn't that challenging, creating an interesting presentation is the key. It is about telling a story and as such could be combined with an English lesson.
  • Develop simulations in Captivate: Adobe's Captivate is fairly straight forward to use (see my previous blog showing Captivate experiments developed from scratch over the course of a week). A step through simulation of a ICT package allows each student to learn at their own pace, and frees up the teacher  to work with students who need the most support or need an extra challenge.  
  • Let student's use Captivate: Once you are familiar with Captivate, why not teach the students how to use it? Letting students develop learning modules that could put up on the school's Learning Management System for other students to use, now that is a win-win.
  • Explore the world of Web 2.0: There are a huge number of amazing tools on the web that go beyond passive viewing. Blogging tools such as  Blogger are obvious and easy to use. But, there are other tools out there for developing presentations, editing video, creating games and building websites.
  • Contextualisation: Don't teach technology, teach how it is used in the world of work. Develop a cash flow forecast in Excel and in doing so combine ICT with business studies and work experience (develop a real cash flow forecast for a local shop).
  • Games design and development: I have blogged about this before (LAP Recycling Game and Climate Crew) but how about engaging pupils with games? Okay, the example I have blogged about utilised Flash, which is a tad technical, but there are simpler tools such as Construct from Scirra. The added benefit of games development is that students become exposed to the world of programming.

In the next weeks and months, I might start developing some learning materials, so watch this space...

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  1. Paul, I enjoyed reading your blog. I would like to clarify that it was around 20% of schools where it was judged to be unsatisfactory.

    Please take some time to look at this

    and read about how the BBC will be showing their new coding platform at Hack To The Future in 2012

    Also, I would recommend that you consider joining Computing at School

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