Why I want to rename ICT to #digital (#ictcurric)

Over the last few months I have been very slowly working on a new curriculum for ICT at my school. Following on from inspiration gleaned from a number of other people (@mwclarkson, @chrisleach28 and @jpgreenwood in particular) I have written four strands for a new curriculum.

1. Digital literacy
2. Digital creativity
3. Digital technology
4. Digital citizenship

Each strand looks at a different aspect of ICT and I think complement each other very nicely. However they suffer from a small problem. Although they incorporate much of what a modern up to date ICT teacher should be teaching it is still known as the ‘ICT’ curriculum and reading any number of current stories emanating from the government about the teaching of ICT one gets the impression the name of the subject has a tarnished reputation.

Under the circumstances I think what is called for is not just a renaming of the subject but a rebranding of ICT. To me when you rename something it simply carries on doing the same job as before but using a diffent title, much the same way as a sports stadium does after it gets named after a corporate sponsor.

A rebranding gives something not only a new name but also a new purpose and direction. Now much of this new purpose for ICT does seem to be developing through the push to include computer science and coding as key components to the curriculum.  This is all well and good but the subject may very well still be called ICT which has its problems of connotations with simply learning clerical MS office skills.  Of course ICT may simply be dropped and pupils start learning Computer Studies but even then that subject has I think it’s negative connotations of being too geeky, insular and lacking the breadth to deal with topical issues in ICT which impact on society.

What I therefore propose is to ignore both names and create a rebranded subject known as #digital. It will include much of what was good about ICT and factor in the coding which will become a very necessary part of the future. It gives us as teachers of the subject the chance to throw off the negativity surrounding ICT and establish it as a strong and relevant subject for schools to teach.

But why choose the name #digital?  For starters when I looked up the definition of digital again in google I got the response “Involving or relating to the use of computer technology: “the digital revolution””. I liked this immensely as this is very much about establishing a revolution in how computer technology is taught in schools. The other definition supplied by google related to digital signalling and this also makes the use of the term relevant as ultimately the subject #digital is about teaching pupils how to understand as much as possible about how simple digital technology works (even down to the signalling) and how it impacts the analogue world surrounding it.

#digital as a name is short, punchy and moves past the clunkiness of Information, Communication and Technology. It ties in nicely with the names of the strands and provides a useful framework for defining multiple elements of the subject. By incorporating the hashtag at the front it captures the ‘zeitgeist’ of the moment which is a world dominated fairly extensively by social networking.

I think taking a bold and daring approach like this could be a useful way to kickstart a new era of teaching the ‘geek’ stuff to a generation who themselves are coming into our lessons increasingly clued up on computers.

ADDENDUM:  The majority of the above blog post was written yesterday morning before I had a further conversation on twitter last night with @largerama.  Nick liked the idea of #digital but suggested Digital Studies instead (or #digitalstudies …).  I think this is a very useful suggestion as it makes it sound a lot better for practical reasons eg a pupil saying “I have digital studies in period 5″ instead of “I have digital in period 5″.  I guess I was just trying to establish a single word name for the subject like Maths or English.  I thought I would at least leave the blog post above unedited as it contains much of what will work for the name #digitalstudies just as much as it would work for #digital.
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