So I’m still here, still teaching ICT to pretty much the whole school pus a little maths too, now. Still looking for ways to expand and improve the curriculum I teach, using coding wherever I can. But I’m now facing up to (well, more than just that now, I’m quite the convert – not to Apple wholesale, but to the opportunities that iPads bring to the classroom, computing excepted) the fact that our school is looking likely to adopt an iPad 1:1 stance from next academic year (we’re in the midst of a trial, with 45 Y8 pupils) and I’m beginning to question just now appropriate the ICT side of my lessons are, to be delivered in the way they currently are.
With this in mind, I approached my head of department and expressed concerns about the validity of the current approach, touting ideas of breaking ICT out of the lab and into other subject (either defraying my classroom time completely, or making me a “department for hire” to the subject that needed me most at that point). These ideas seemed well-received in that the next icing I know is I’m to put the thoughts down in writing for the head to consider. The passed, and when we came back in January, the head asked to speak to me about the ideas and essentially said that he agreed and now he needed me to figure out how that would work in terms of our current timetable regimen.
Hmm… still working on that one – any ideas, folks?
Our timetable is organised around fortnightly blocks of lessons, apparently, with subjects pairing up to make chunks of 10 lessons a fortnight, so if ICT were to need less of the allocation, in terms of computing lab time, how would the system balance? Eep! At this point in the conversation with the deputy in charge of time tabling, my brain started melting and I’ve yet to make and inroads into how this more “itinerant” approach might work in practice.
The way I see it, though, particularly in an iPad environment, rather than yet another ICT “research this topic and then create some kind of document to present your findings” whether Word, PowerPoint or Publisher project we need to be fully embedding the creation/communicating/presenting side of the equation with core subjects where there are more “real world” topics to be studied.
This is not to say that there aren’t some topics that bear investigation from a computing perspective – the history of cryptography is a great topic I’ve done before, which gives a real chance to bring in the work of “greats” like Turing – but too many times I’ve tried standing in front of a class, saying how important it is that they now use these skills whenever they think of doing a presentation, only to see the output from other subjects and think “ugh!”; now I’d like to take the opportunity to embed that teaching at the point where they’re doing the work, make it much more of a case of the ICT supporting the learning rather than the ICT being the learning.
And, regarding the computing side I’m mindful of the CAS curriculum recommendations, but I have to say that even as an ex-developer there is some stuff in there that would question the usefulness of, for the majority of pupils, especially if we’re trying to convince them how much fun there is to be had in programming. Things like sorting algorithms, for example, strike me as a suitable topic for perhaps maths – structured logical thinking is just as much a part of that discipline as it is computing.
What say you all?