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Computing in Schools: must try harder Print
August 2012

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) based in London published an article online in July 2012 saying that schools' curriculum for ICT has received much media attention for all the wrong reasons.  Please read the full article there:  The title of the article is "computing in schools: must try harder".

The following notes are not really new as Compucon has been preaching on the same lines for the last five years. However, Compucon is pleased to quote some messages from IET.  Readers must be reminded that the quotes are not verbatim from IET as comments from Compucon have been added.

While there is a need for students to be competent in the use of technology, much of what has been taught are basic skills in the use of office-based tool such as word processing and presentation.  Athough these are useful for entering the workplace, most students have not had the opportunity to learn the fundamental disciplines of programming and coding which are the basis for nearly every modern system, appliance, or device. Compucon has noted the same happening in New Zealand schools.  Many schools have been teaching students with commercially pre-packaged applications and students are taught to click icons mostly.

The UK was a world leader in computing in the past but now produces students with no understanding or training to innovate in this relatively new technology.  If the UK is to remain an innovator instead of just a user of technology then this needs to be addressed. This warning applies head on to New Zealand schools although New Zealand was not a world leader in computing before.  New Zealand has favorable natural environments to breed first class innovators but we just have not been conscious of what we do in education. 

Compucon is not expected to provide advice to the education sector but we have done so anyway even to deaf ears. We have been holding seminars for teachers, ICT administrators, IT managers, and students since year 2000.  We have been preaching the messages below which are quoted from ICT. To be fair, several teachers and IT managers have responded favorably and we have been doing our best to contribute to the society individually.

- The skills required involve an understanding of hardware, software, and a logical approach to problem solving.

- The teaching of computing science does not necessarily require large amounts of expensive software much of which is free or Open Sourced.

- The ICT curriculum should include a more comprehensive digital content where modern digital techniques are encouraged for all subjhects.  Today this is largely confined to Internet search, but use of cameras and editing software should be encouraged.