traffic cone in park

ICT in Subjects

traffic cone in park

out of your comfort zone?

My school have taken the plunge to deliver ICT through subjects – exciting times I hear you think! Every school I am aware of having done this has back-peddled to discrete lessons because it is too difficult to do it well – too many teachers without the necessary skillset or knowledge to facilitate ICT learning. However, this major project has a few possible winning elements that might make a difference. They are:

  • team teaching: an ICT teacher will be present in every ICT in Subjects lesson
  • Leadership Team support: the LT are fully behind the project and expect success
  • a new timetable model: our school is shifting from a one week 40 lesson timetable to a two week 30 lesson timetable (60 lesson cycle)
  • Frog learning platform: we are rolling out our new learning platform in September 2012 (with the new timetable) and our excellent teaching staff will be looking for ways to make this a success, so their will be lots of enthused professionals looking for the win

If you have the time, please get in touch (comments, twitter, email – daibarnes at gmail dot com) to tell me about your efforts to teach ICT through other subjects? This is an ambitious project as you will know if you have tried it. Anything I can learn from your experience – success or failure – will be a great advantage to successful implementation. Please pass this post along to anyone you know who might have some insight to offer? Nothing will be published without permission.

All ICT in Subjects work will be shared on this blog.

…there’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all. Bob Dylan, Love Minus Zero, No Limit. 1965

Programming the Maths Curriculum

This was written as a response to Pete Bell’s blogpost ICT and Computing in Schools – Harness a new dawn

Show me the money

Show me the money (image by me)

AQA have attempted (2009)to take this issue seriously and consulted IBM, British Aerospace and other big corps to identify what they want from graduates. The answer, according to Barbara Wilson – chief examiner at the time – was business-savvy young people who understand how technology can add value to an organisation and the complicated process of implementing tech successfully. The new ICT A Level spec attempts to do this. I quite like it. Paper projects are still a problem. I hope to see the end of these shortly, but it is not easy to nurture the real-life project process without interaction (research, deliverables, testing) with users and clients. A controlled assessment approach might otherwise be a good idea. Fixed time frame. A range of problems set by the board. Effectively a practical exam.

The BIO takes this format but it is quite raw and difficult programming and I think there in lies part of the problem no-one seems to talk about. Programming is hard. [The one student I enter for the BIO – he got distinction last year – is the best mathematician the school has seen in 20 years.] I guess that’s why these conversations inevitably encourage everyone to start learning code young. I might, maybe after a pint, argue that all the visual programming simulators (Scratch et al) are doing a diservice to the cause. In Bob Noyce‘s final interview (in the 1990’s) he said that, if he were in charge of it all, he would like to “make sure we are preparing our next generation to flourish in a high-tech age. And that means education of the lowest and the poorest, as well as at the graduate school level.” I’m not sure these immediate gratification software applications are the answer. Love them as I do. The joy of programming is writing lines of code to achieve a solution to a problem – not make a game or an animation. Who would be interested in programming to visually uninteresting outcomes after the rich loveliness and quick win play of KODU.

My cigarette packet solution is the Maths curriculum. Maths is already embedded in the heart of every school and connected to programming via algorithms and logical sequencing etc. I feel that the most effective and efficient way we can impregnate coding into UK schools is via the same route as algebra and geometry. Who should we be talking to? Those in charge of Maths. What’s the probability of them saying yes? One or zero.