Yesterday was a fairly momentous day for ICT teachers in the UK after Michael Gove's set piece speech on the future of ICT teaching in schools. There has been an avalanche of news stories, tweets and blogs about it so I thought it may be a good idea to let the dust settle before adding my two cents. A lot of the comment has been quite in depth about some of the issues so for me I will be trying to slightly 'summarise' the main points. A post on #digitalstudies should hopefully follow soon
The problems people have been having with the speech
Some commentary including some incensed tweets from someone at NASUWT have focussed on Gove's comments that ICT teaching is boring and dull. Ofsted did pick up on it and I largely tend to agree with Gove. In those schools where leadership has not invested properly in staff to teach the subject I can very well imagine teachers who are trying to do a really good job but are struggling due to not probably being their main specialism.
The curriculum itself I don't think was 'boring' as such. There was a lot of good quality and challenging points within it but again I think it suffered through schools not paying it too much attention. Trying to take a step back I would say that the curriculum for ICT was probably a great curriculum for most of the 2000's leading up to about 2007-8. This I would say is the point where social networks, apps on mobile phones and the like started to really take off beyond the level of enthusiasm which sites like myspace had achieved. The pace of technological change since then has meant that the ICT curriculum is now largely out of date (my textbooks are a joke) and change certainly is needed.
A further problem I have picked up on briefly is that some may think the government is wishing their hands of ICT and that by giving companies the opportunity to set the pace for future curricula this will lead to excessive commercialisation of ICT.
To answer that (and more in the opportunities presented by the speech)
- Gove has committed to including Computer Science within the EBacc if it meets standards
- ICT is already heavily commercialised with teachers having to pick their way through Microsoft, Apple, Adobe products etc etc
It may be a cynical view to adopt that they are washing their hands of it but given the alternative of taking ages to develop a centralised national curriculum for the subject I think Gove has given us the lesser of two evils. Although it may only be Computer Science in the Ebacc I think at GCSE level I don't see anything wrong in pupils choosing to focus on one strand of #digitalstudies. As for the commercialisation question I think most teachers are adept at finding their way through commercial products (If you have been to BETT that skill would be hardcoded in you by now!).
Opportunities presented by the speech
The biggest opportunity presented by Gove's speech is the mention of the words 'open source curriculum'. This does obviously allow corporates to produce their own curricula and I would certainly welcome that. However in my only real gripe he didn't acknowledge that teachers themselves could be responsible for developing an open source curriculum. This is something myself, @teachesict and @chrisleach28 are working on in different ways under the guise of #digitalstudies.
A new open source curriculum should be able to provide opportunities for bringin gin more coding but also keeping some of the value from the old ICT curriculum. I certainly don't want to restrict it to computer science right the way through the curriculum as this I feel would be too limiting.
Although my opportunities is shorter than the problems section I think the opportunity of a truly open sourced curriculum is fantastic and should give the scope and vitality to really take this subject forward. Although Gove based part of his speech on misconceptions the balance I think was largely positive and should ensure that ICT or whatever it will be called is not only safe for the future but provides a market leading educational experience for pupils.