The use of ICT in classrooms and whether ICT should be seen as a tool or as a subject in its own right opens up a wide debate. Living in the 21st century, a very technologically motivated time, we know that ICT has to be a feature of the classroom. However we need to change, to move forward to keep up with the expectations of society today. The role of ICT in the classroom and how it is envisaged through the new, draft ICT Programme of Study is that the three strands of digital literacy, computer science and information technology will be required to be taught in primary schools.
The PoS is in its early stages of development by a working group headed up by BCS and the Royal Society. Amongst its members are Computing at School (CAS) and National Association of Advisors for Computers in Education (UK), Naace. CAS have devised a Draft curriculum for ICT “Computer Science: A curriculum for schools” which defines the three strands contained in the ICT PoS. Computer science which teaches us how to be an effective author of computational tools (i.e software); Information technology which teaches us how to be a thoughtful user of those tools; Digital literacy as the ability to access, use and express ourselves using digital technology, together with an understanding of its use in society and the world today.
Within our ICT lessons we have explored programming through the use of Scratch and in previous years we looked at logo and programmable toys, but in future, within the classroom this will only be a part of computer science; we need to also ensure that children understand how to solve problems using computational thinking and why it is necessary to be able to do so. Dr Tom Crick, a member of the PoS working group, says “that learning how to program is not the endpoint, but part of the journey of equipping children with the necessary digital skills to solve problems”.
The importance of our own digital literacy, as trainee teachers, has been highlighted over the course of my degree, and I agree that this is an area in which children need to put down solid roots early on in their learning journeys. E-safety is a crucial element of digital literacy and needs continual reinforcement in the classroom. Retrieval of information from reliable and credible sources using search strategies involving databases and advanced Google searches is also essential. In the good old days of books, generally we could easily tell a reliable source from an unreliable one. In fact there probably weren’t too many unreliable ones used in schools in the first place because of cost factors. However, today with the availability and ease of accessibility of information through the internet, this is a vital part of a child’s education; consequently we need to ensure they are safe and exploring appropriate web sites to support their learning. At university we have also explored ways in which children can now present information through a variety of platforms; my favourite needless to say is the blog.
In their report “Shut down or restart”, The Royal Society were critical of educators suggesting that “there is a shortage of teachers who are able to teach beyond basic digital literacy”. Whilst I consider I still have much to learn in the teaching of ICT, the fact that we, as trainee teachers, are aware of the need for greater competence within the teaching of ICT, should ensure that through our own CPD this is addressed. I feel that through the university classes we have all developed as ICT teachers and I am sure that many will now feel secure in their knowledge in order become ICT subject leaders in the future. We need progressive, forward thinking professionals; professionals who are willing to develop their own CPD independently as well as through their school. We cannot stand still in the fast pace of developing technology, we need to ensure that the children in our classrooms do become the technologically savvy students that are able to take on the roles in the workplace that is required from today’s society. We, as primary teachers are at the base of that development.
BCS identify that ICT should be taught as an independent subject but that Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) should be incorporated into all subjects within the curriculum, using ICT as a tool to enhance learning. Throughout my blog I have explored and realised ways of utilising ICT within the classroom. It has been an interesting if pacy learning journey but one that I look forward to continuing in my own classroom next year.
Resources within ICT have changed remarkably over the past few years, we now have the tablet available to use within the classroom but, whilst the ipad is an incredibly versatile device we must be aware that only 4.5% of primary schools presently have access to this resource. With many of the resources we used within our university ICT classes using the ipad my advice would be for all educators to invest in an ipad. They can be used to support delivery of lessons, immediately record assessments both visual and online, support special needs and reluctant learners and with the number of apps now available which are free and easy to incorporate into planning growing daily, there will be something we can use across this medium to really ‘hook’ the children. Looking through the Apple in Education profiles demonstrates how useful ipads and ipods can be in the classroom setting.
Whilst I am sure we would all like to have ipads or ipods in our classrooms for all the children to use, finances will unfortunately only allow this in a minority of cases. Although the TES in their article this morning suggest that ICT budgets in schools are increasing, which could mean more schools will be able to utilise this valuable platform in the future. We therefore need to look to other platforms for our resources and there are many out there. I have written a separate post relating to a few of the most popular being used in the classroom at present, sourced directly from educators on twitter, to whom I am extremely grateful.
I firmly believe that blogging has a strong future within the classroom. It gives children a powerful outlet for their ideas and writing, knowing that they are being given a global platform to showcase their work gives a real buzz. Utilising Quadblogging immediately links schools around the world together giving children a personal angle to support their exploration of communities, countries and cultures.
Reflecting on my blog, its impact on me and others and the growing number of blogging schools clearly demonstrates the ‘power of the blog’, and whilst the debate over whether ICT is a tool or a subject in its own right will continue, ICT within the classroom is here to stay and I am very excited to be supporting children in their learning journey through this valuable medium.