|Thread title||Replies||Last modified|
|BYOT- what does it offer beyond the use of the school ipad?||1||01:27, 17 November 2013|
|Let us hope that "ICT" is dead and buried||39||01:19, 17 June 2013|
|A place for Software Engineering...||4||07:44, 4 May 2013|
|Responding to the NC Consultation||2||00:52, 7 April 2013|
|Responding to the draft Computing PoS||6||01:30, 20 February 2013|
|ICT - a damaged brand?||9||03:02, 3 January 2013|
|ICT - Computing - Nothing? What do you think?||5||01:53, 17 December 2012|
|Confusing terminilogy||1||14:38, 5 December 2012|
|What do you think that ICT PoS should include?||2||01:17, 27 November 2012|
Consider the following scenario: School A allows students to bring in their own devices and use what apps they like. School B provides iPads that students can take home and customize as they wish. Both schools provided filtered internet access. What then, is the advantage, beyond cost to the school, of BYOT?
The cost issue is not insignificant! See my thoughts on Who pays.
However, to answer your question, I think that there are potentially a number of other advantages of BYOT.
- The students are more likely to feel ownership of the devices - and this does seem to make a major difference to the level of use of devices and student engagement with them
- There may be a reduced expectation that the teacher help solve technical problems - if it is the school device/software then the students will quite reasonably expect the teacher to know how to use it and help them with the technical aspects, whereas if it is a BYOT device then there is no expectation that the teacher will know how to operate each specific device/software (or at least that seems to be the case in the schools I have been in where BYOT is in operation)
- Focussing on the intended outcomes rather than how the students achieve those outcomes (which device/software they use) potentially has two advantages:
- It allows students to tackle problems in their own way - using tools of their choosing - so allows for greater independence and personalisation
- It provides the opportunity to compare and contrast different approaches to solving a problem - which at the very least should develop digital technology capability
I'd be interested to know if anyone else has other advantages - or indeed disadvantages of BYOT ...
Re. ICT is dead - long live ICT
I agree with the importance of defining terms (I was arguing this back in January 2012), but not at all with the taxonomy that you propose. I also disagree with your last swipe at Gove, regarding unintended consequences. If you are talking about the clarification of definitions, this was very explicitly the point of the whole exercise that was started by “Shut down or restart?” — stuff about “damaged brand” is just PR speak for those who do not understand the details of the argument about definitions. If you are talking about adopting your definitions, I should wait a while before assuming that this is going to happen at all.
“Digital Literacy” seems to have been replaced by “Digital skills”, precisely to avoid any implication that anyone is talking about the stuff you are promoting: “21st century skills”, “21st century citizenship” and all of that stuff, which I have argued elsewhere is bogus. It is going to be about the feet-on-the-ground (or “very narrow” as you and NAACE have it) definitions proposed by the Royal Society.
Technology Enhanced Learning
“TEL” should be avoided for reasons I have already described. If you do not want to read the whole article, my central point is illustrated by the definition you propose. You talk only of the use of digital technology, even though the subject-specific technologies that we need to transform education do not generally exist. This has been the central reason why the whole Becta experiment failed and why the sort of training programme that you were delivering through Vital was always premature (as I suggest to you when we first met, at the time that it was first being established). We should use “education technology” instead, because it covers both development and use of such technologies.
I disagree with your use of this term for three reasons.
1. As already argued, we “embed” things when they have a different purpose to the surrounding environment (a reporter in an army unit, for example) but we do not embed things which serve the main purpose of the surrounding environment. We do not “embed” tables and chairs in classrooms and neither should we “embed” weather stations in Geography lessons or MIDI instruments in music lessons. I think you understand this really: the problem is not that you use the term “embed” incorrectly but that your justification hides your true purpose. You really want to introduce different aims into other subjects under the pretence that the subject has changed in ways that you understand better than native subject experts. Your use of this term therefore signals your desire to act the cuckoo, laying your agenda in everyone else’s nests.
2. In my view, you have grossly over-stated the claim that technology is changing the nature of the rest of the curriculum. When you look at the substance of the argument that you have made, it boils down to the fact that the English curriculum should refer to “texts” rather than “books”. I completely agree with that point. But the fact that literature is delivered through a new medium does not change the essence of the subject one iota. Even Computer Science itself, according to its chief advocate the Royal Society “has longevity (most of the ideas and concepts that were current 50 or more years ago are still applicable today), and every core principle can be taught or illustrated without relying on the use of a specific technology”. Computers have not even changed the discipline of Computing and I see no evidence that they have changed the fundamentals of any other subject either.
3. The term is redundant. We have never required an abstract noun to refer to IWBs, Bunson burners and poly-gyms – why do we need such a term now, other than to smuggle in your very contentious theory that all these subjects have been changed by technology?
If we do not need “embedded technology”, then neither do we need “ICT” as a new umbrella term. Even laying aside all the (so far unanswered) arguments that the Royal Society, the DfE and I have put against this term, its use in the context that you are suggesting would be highly misleading, considering that it has always been used up to now (by yourself and everyone else) to refer to the National Curriculum subject.
So the taxonomy that I think we are heading towards is somewhat different to that which you suggest. I suggest the following:
- Computer Science
- Digital skills
- Education technology
As for the hardware and software — what you call “Digital technology” — I suspect that we will end up with a mish-mash of terms like “subject-specific technology”, “IT infrastructure”, “the network” etc. The danger, which I am not sure how to avoid, is that we use “IT” to refer both to the hardware and software being used, and on the other hand to the subject. For that reason, I think the use of “digital technology” is not a bad idea. But I am not convinced it will ever catch on. Nor do I think that the lack of a formal taxonomy in this respect will do much harm, mainly because “IT” as a curriculum subject is itself an umbrella term, which I suspect will be little used. In practice, people will be studying “digital art”, “digital games creation”, “network administration”, “database architecture”, “web design” etc.
Crispin, thank you for your comprehensive response to my suggested definitions. To make it feel less daunting (and easier for folk to pick up particular aspects of the discussion) I am going to respond in separate messages to each of your key points.
- I agree with the importance of defining terms (I was arguing this back in January 2012), but not at all with the taxonomy that you propose. I also disagree with your last swipe at Gove, regarding unintended consequences. If you are talking about the clarification of definitions, this was very explicitly the point of the whole exercise that was started by “Shut down or restart?” — stuff about “damaged brand” is just PR speak for those who do not understand the details of the argument about definitions. If you are talking about adopting your definitions, I should wait a while before assuming that this is going to happen at all.
We are both starting with the same aim - to clarify the terminology used in our area. My PhD, which I started in 1990, is fundamentally underpinned by a desire to deal with the confusion about what we mean when we talk about 'educational technology'.
I agree that the Royal Society report attempted to help clarify the situation by providing definitions of key terms. However, I don't believe that Gove's motivation for changing the name of the subject in the National Curriculum is driven by that same ambition. The damaged brand argument is one that has been made by those who want the name of the subject changed from ICT (such as folk in BCS and CAS), many of who do understand the details of the argument about definitions (even if you and I might not agree with their views on them).
I agree that only time will tell which (if any) definitions relating to the key aspects of 'educational technology' (which I am taking to include everything from the technology itself through to the specialist subjects). However, part of my goal is to help ensure that some clear definitions are 'out there' and to promote their use, because (as I argue in my PhD and the dICTatEd Project) many of the problems in the field relate to lack of understanding about what we are talking about (people talking at cross purposes) because they don't define their terms clearly or use them consistently.
To be honest I am not that bothered about the particular labels that are used - so long as they are clearly defined and used consistently. So getting to agreement about terminology and definitions is the challenge ...
I have heard it credited to Kevin Riley of IMS GLC (though it may be wider practice) to say that you should first agree the definitions and then choose the terms. Instead of having a metaphysical discussion along the lines of "what does 'x' really mean", we should say "we want to discuss such-and-such, so what name shall we give it?"
So I agree with you that the terms matter only at the level of good marketing (itself not a trivial matter) - but the definitions are profoundly important in the distinctions and assumptions that they make. I think we are no more than a gnat's whisker apart on this.
On the comparative merits of "TEL" vs "education technology", I pick up on this discussion below, along with your PhD.
I too think we are pretty much in agreement ... The best labels to use is the main challenge ... As does the substantive point re the extent to which digital technology has changed disciplines. All interesting stuff which it is good to unpack/probe.
I will respond in 'manageable' (from point of view of my available time) chunks over the next few days ...
Re Digital Literacy
- “Digital Literacy” seems to have been replaced by “Digital skills”, precisely to avoid any implication that anyone is talking about the stuff you are promoting: “21st century skills”, “21st century citizenship” and all of that stuff, which I have argued elsewhere is bogus. It is going to be about the feet-on-the-ground (or “very narrow” as you and NAACE have it) definitions proposed by the Royal Society.
Firstly, lets be clear that when I say Digital Literacy I am NOT talking about 21st Century Skills. Indeed I nearly included a definition of 21st Century Skills in order to avoid any confusion. I have often heard politicians, business people, and educators talking in one sentence about Computer Science and in the next sentence about communication, collaboration, team work, leadership, learning to learn, real problem solving or the like, as if these things were closely related.
I have provided my definition of Digital Literacy here, and nowhere in it does it talk about 21st Century Skills (as I would define them). Of course I would agree, am arguing, that Digital Literacy is critically important in the 21st Century, but that does not mean that it equates with what most people seem to mean when they talk about 21st Century Skills (or at best it is a small subset of them).
Secondly, I agree that the Royal Society definition of Digital Literacy is narrowly defined as being about the ability to operate digital technology (what I would call 'button pushing'). I would also agree that calling 'button pushing' Digital Skills would more accurately reflect the Royal Society definition. However, I think that this is a narrower definition than the one that the group drafting the revised PoS for Computing (or ICT as it was at that time) were using (I say that with some confidence as I was part of the original drafting group).
OK. I would be interested to see your definition of 21st century skills. It seems to me that most of the key skills that we are trying to teach are exactly the same as ever they were (see my Conclusion to the article at http://edtechnow.net/2013/01/26/industrial-revolution/).
ON your 4 point definition of "digital literacy"...
1. Understanding the impact of new technologies on society, including the ways in which new technologies change disciplines (e.g. history, chemistry, English, etc)
I do not accept that new technologies are substantively changing disciplines, nor do I accept that you need to understand sociological change in order to be able to operate in society. On the contrary, there has always been a view that there is an inverse relationship between being a philosopher and being a man of the world. Finally, I think the impact of new technologies on society is highly contentious and likely, particularly when being presented to school children, to become a matter of unproven dogma. But I would be interested to see what you would expect to be taught under this item.
2. Understanding the nature of digital identities and being able to manage your digital identities appropriately 3. Being able to interact safely in a digital world (encompassing e-safety, cyber-bullying, data security, etc)
I agree with these points, which strike me as two sides of the same coin - an important matter to be covered, though relatively minor when seen from the perspective of curriculum objectives. It is broadly covered in the current curriculum by "communicate safely and respectfully online, keeping personal information private", though I would like to see this brought into KS2 in some form, instead of or as well as being in KS1.
4. Being able to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, analyze and (re)present information using digital technology (including using dynamic and procedural representations) - what you might think of as 'the creative' making and doing aspects of using digital technology (though of course many other aspects of the subject are creative too).
This is where my substantive objection lies - the concept of "Digital Creativity". You need to read the piece at http://edtechnow.net/2013/03/23/good_lord/.
I know that the drafting group came up with a definition of "digital literacy" that it thinks is broader - but I think it is a bogus definition. The Royal Society definition is IMO superior because it recognises that the requirement for digital literacy / digital skills is for the prerequisite skills ("button pushing" is a tad unfair) to enable the teaching of creativity / evaluation / analysis etc in other subjects. It is the concept of "digital creativity" that is bogus, other in the sense of coding, which members of the drafting group often seem to characterise as an activity that is only fit for some sweat shop in Bangalore.
- OK. I would be interested to see your definition of 21st century skills. It seems to me that most of the key skills that we are trying to teach are exactly the same as ever they were (see my Conclusion to the article at http://edtechnow.net/2013/01/26/industrial-revolution/).
My definition of 21st Century Skills would encompass the 'soft skills' such as communication, collaboration, leadership, team work, real problem solving, learning to learn, etc..
I would totally agree that these are not new - they were all present in the Plowden Report back in 1967 before digital technology had made any impact on schools (or even much on society more generally).
I do not accept that new technologies are substantively changing disciplines, nor do I accept that you need to understand sociological change in order to be able to operate in society. On the contrary, there has always been a view that there is an inverse relationship between being a philosopher and being a man of the world. Finally, I think the impact of new technologies on society is highly contentious and likely, particularly when being presented to school children, to become a matter of unproven dogma. But I would be interested to see what you would expect to be taught under this item.
I don't think I was saying you need to be a philosopher - just that it is important to understand that digital technology (in a similar but different way to the internal combustion engine) has an impact on the way society operates. It is helpful to be aware of this - for example, being aware of the ways in which the media might try to manipulate our thinking - is empowering.
I think we disagree about the extent to which digital technology has impacted on and will continue to impact on society. Offshoring is one concrete example that has real impacts on people (who either become less employable or more employable depending upon whether you are in the 'home' or 'outsource' country. I suspect that as automation becomes even more prevalent we will see radical changes in society - and will need to rethink how our economy works - see my overview of The Lights in the Tunnel for more on this.
Peter, I do not disagree that IT is having massive impacts on society - it is just that we are so much in the thick of the revolution that it is hard to make sense of it at the moment. People have long been predicting mass unemployment as a result of automation, without it ever having happened to any significant extent. As some functions are automated, people have always discovered other things that need to be done and appetites for increased consumption has proved virtually limitless. Your reference seems to me to make my point - the first line of the article is "This book explores the possibility that automation will lead to mass unemployment". It is speculative theory which I am not sure schoolchildren are well equipped to evaluate. It seems like a good topic for a sixth-form debate, not a KS3 sociology lesson.
As for the media manipulating our thinking, I do not entirely disagree but I think that there is at the same time a danger of peddling negative and what might easily become conspiratorial theories. As a History teacher, it has always struck me that we are quick to teach children about other people's propaganda, but almost completely blind to our own.
The right approach, I believe, is to try and positively equip children to think for themselves and approach all assertions with an open and skeptical mind - but this is a very tough objective and you will fail most of the time. I am with John Stuart Mill that the real threat to independent thought is not authority but the pressure to conform to social orthodoxy - a pressure that Twitter and Facebook have very substantially increased. There is perhaps another sixth-form debate along the lines of whether the Press is motivated primarily by propriatorial agendas or the popular appetites of its consumers.
My main concern is that all this is very controversial and in my experience even teachers are often not very good at thinking for themselves. This means that there is a significant danger of classrooms being used to peddle teachers' pet theories.
Again we agree about much here:
- digital technology is having massive impacts on society - but the future is uncertain (who knows what those impacts might be in 5, 10, 20 etc years time)
- New media provide new ways for people to communicate and influence others (you didn't say this but its implicit in your partial agreement re media manipulation I think)
- we want to equip children to think for themselves and approach life with an open mind
- this is all complex and controversial stuff
Where we seem to disagree is that I think that despite the complexity and messiness we ought to be helping children understand it (as best we can and at a level that is appropriate to the maturity of the children), whereas you seem to be saying that because its so uncertain, complex and messy we shouldn't try to teach about it (until the children are much older).
I can see where you are coming from - I just don't agree with you on this occasion.
Re Technology Enhanced Learning
- “TEL” should be avoided for reasons I have already described. If you do not want to read the whole article, my central point is illustrated by the definition you propose. You talk only of the use of digital technology, even though the subject-specific technologies that we need to transform education do not generally exist. This has been the central reason why the whole Becta experiment failed and why the sort of training programme that you were delivering through Vital was always premature (as I suggest to you when we first met, at the time that it was first being established). We should use “education technology” instead, because it covers both development and use of such technologies.
I have to admit that I don't like the term TEL. I have gone with it because it is the term that most people in the field use - though they tend to use it to refer to all aspects of the cross curricula use of digital technology (what I have called ICT and suggested should be sub-divided into Embedded Technology and TEL).
Ignoring the label for a minute - if we agree that digital technologies afford us new pedagogical strategies/techniques then I think it is useful at the moment to have a term to refer to that. I agree that this is about pedagogy (and thus teaching) and thus TEL's focus on learning is an issue. I disagree about the point Crispin makes about subject-specific technologies (in relation to pedagogy) because I want a term the encompasses the impact of all digital technology on pedagogy, not just ones specifically designed for education. So, for example, TEL (or whatever better term emerges) encompasses the use of Tablets (a consumer device) on pedagogy. At least one school that we have collected data in is specifically concerned with using Tablets because they are a consumer device and not part of 'school technology' - and the impact that is having on pedagogy is important.
I am interested that you agree about the need to focus on teaching and not just on learning. It is good to have some company in an unfashionable position.
Peter wrote: "I want a term the encompasses the impact of all digital technology on pedagogy, not just ones specifically designed for education".
My point is that it is not so much the effect of technology on pedagogy, but the effect of pedagogy on technology that should be concerning us very much more than it has in the past. Our neglect of this point is why we have got ourselves into a position where, as Diana Laurillard puts it, "what education has done has been to appropriate everybody else’s technologies for all the different facets that we need in the teaching and learning transaction" - see my post at http://edtechnow.net/2012/01/25/aristotles-saddle-maker/.
It also reflects a misunderstanding of what technology *is*. It is not a commodity, a large jar of peanut butter to be bought at the supermarket and spread over everything. It is an opportunity to innovate - and one that we have not taken. I have only had time to skim your PhD - but I think that I would make the same criticism of what I see there. e.g.
<<Twining’s (1999) critique of Laurillard’s (1996) Media Mix Model illustrates that it, like all software frameworks, suffers from the problem of technological determinism. Software and other technologies have what Laurillard, Stratfold, Luckin, Plowman and Taylor (1999) describe as affordances, that is they lend themselves to being used in certain ways. However, that does not preclude them from being used in other ways, which were not intended or anticipated by their designers. (p 356)>>
This reminds me of the Microsoft advert of a technician using a knife as a screwdriver, captioned something like "use the right tool for the job". It is not a virtue to have to bodge in this way, but a symptom of a failure to innovate.
And the whole purpose of the PhD is to create framework along the lines of another which you describe as "consisting of seven dimensions, which they state can be used to describe progress in implementing/embedding ICT within schools (p356)". This falls into the trap of regarding technology as a "given" that it is for teachers to apply to education, rather than fostering a supply chain in which the adaption of technology to education can be led by industry, responding to teacher demand.
<<Cloke (2000) argued that even though there has been “extensive research into the use of ICT in schools, relatively little research has focused on the key pedagogical issues.” (p.1). This suggests a continued focus on technological issues, despite calls “to expand our concerns to include pedagogical, as well as equipment problems (p354)>>
Again, re-enforcing the unhelpful dichotomy, "never mind the technology, what about the learning". The point is not that we should ignore the technology but we should make sure that the technology *serves* the pedagogy. And that means developing education-specific technologies (normally software) on top of more generic infrastructures - see my http://edtechnow.net/2012/01/25/aristotles-saddle-maker/ on this point.
Again I think we are pretty much in agreement - I totally buy the idea that we should not be content with simply making do with technology developed for other audiences/purposes - we should have some technology designed specifically for education, and it would make total sense for that to be called 'educational technology'.
I also agree that the technology should not be the driver of pedagogy (or learning).
However, I don't see that these arguments change the fact that digital technology (whether or not it was designed with education in mind) can and does change our pedagogical possibilities. I think we need a term to refer to that, because having terms helps people focus on things which they might otherwise not notice - and, simply because the term is well established, I have gone with using TEL.
Peter, I agree on the importance of terminology and I can also see the need for a term to represent the effect of technology (education-specific or not) on pedagogy. I just think TEL is not a satisfactory term.
I guess that what this boils down to is that I do not think that non-education-specific technology *has* had much of an effect on learning in formal educational environments.
The internet and other generic software is great for:
- disseminating information;
- social networking;
- games and simulations;
- creative tools.
The problems have been that formal education is not about accumulating information (bullet 1); and that children are not motivated to use generic social networking tools for learning (it can be done, I agree, but I have yet to see an example that has struck me as being worth the effort) - bullet 2. There is, I believe, great potential for education-specific social networking environments - but they have not been developed yet. Similarly with games and simulations - generic commercial games are (pace Graham Brown-Martin and Ian Livingstone) next to useless and the education-specific, serious games have not yet been developed - bullet 3. As for creative tools, word processing software is probably the most useful contribution to date in the whole of education technology to formal education. Again, there is great potential for education-specific tools but so far they have not been developed (my own subject is History: why has no-one developed a timeline editor or a causal mapping software?) - bullet 4.
I would go further than this and say that the internet has broadly had a negative effect on education. Its most common use is for "internet research" which in reality involves cut-and-paste plagiarism, with lazy teachers failing to understand that research is not about the accumulation but the processing of information. Desktop publishing and other presentational software has also, under the guise of making students feel good about themselves, led to a massive waste of time in school. Yet "TEL" implies that technology always represents an enhancement.
So my analysis is that the whole project has failed due to the lack of education-specific technology that is supportive of good pedagogy - yet most of the TEL community do not even recognise the absence of education-specific technology - it is the elephant in the room - and the TEL acronym allow them to continue not to see it.
Another problem is the poor liaison between academic educationalists and teachers: the contrast with doctors, who are held responsible for keeping up to date with research journals, could not be starker. Again, by focusing on "learning" rather than "teaching", TEL helps perpetuate the view that the teacher has an incidental role in education, merely as facilitator.
Instead of leading teachers to expect that you just stir in to teaspoons of technology and out comes enhanced learning, we need to focus on the need for good teaching.
So while I recognised at the top of this comment the need for another acronym with the definition that you propose, I would suggest "digital pedagogy" rather than "TEL", to cover the practitioner's contribution to the party, as a companion to "education technology" which focuses on suppliers' contribution. My post today at http://edtechnow.net/2013/05/12/pedagogy/ explains what I understand "pedagogy" to mean in practice.
As a final aside, I was always amused by the forward to Becta's first Harnessing Technology report, in which Charles Clarke encouraged us all to "embrace the new pedagogues". I imagined a wave of government-approved sexual harassment breaking out in schools up and down the country. But notwithstanding the Malapropism, I thought the basic intention was a good one.
I would be happy with having a different acronym to TEL, but don't think digital pedagogy works because it foregrounds the digital (the pedagogy is digital). This foregrounding of the technology within TEL is less problematic, because the technology is only enhancing the learning. However, I'd be very happy if we came up with a better term ...
I don't buy the argument about 'because technology hasn't been used well by teachers' then technology (unless designed specifically for education) can't impact on pedagogy. I have seen many instances of digital technology which were not designed for education being used very effectively in ways that change the pedagogy (though I wouldn't disagree that much or even most of the use of technology we see in schools isn't making much difference to the pedagogy - or is making it worse). However, I'm happy to disagree on this one. :O)
Re Embedded technology
- I disagree with your use of this term for three reasons.
- 1. As already argued, we “embed” things when they have a different purpose to the surrounding environment (a reporter in an army unit, for example) but we do not embed things which serve the main purpose of the surrounding environment. We do not “embed” tables and chairs in classrooms and neither should we “embed” weather stations in Geography lessons or MIDI instruments in music lessons. I think you understand this really: the problem is not that you use the term “embed” incorrectly but that your justification hides your true purpose. You really want to introduce different aims into other subjects under the pretence that the subject has changed in ways that you understand better than native subject experts. Your use of this term therefore signals your desire to act the cuckoo, laying your agenda in everyone else’s nests.
- 2. In my view, you have grossly over-stated the claim that technology is changing the nature of the rest of the curriculum. When you look at the substance of the argument that you have made, it boils down to the fact that the English curriculum should refer to “texts” rather than “books”. I completely agree with that point. But the fact that literature is delivered through a new medium does not change the essence of the subject one iota. Even Computer Science itself, according to its chief advocate the Royal Society “has longevity (most of the ideas and concepts that were current 50 or more years ago are still applicable today), and every core principle can be taught or illustrated without relying on the use of a specific technology”. Computers have not even changed the discipline of Computing and I see no evidence that they have changed the fundamentals of any other subject either.
- 3. The term is redundant. We have never required an abstract noun to refer to IWBs, Bunson burners and poly-gyms – why do we need such a term now, other than to smuggle in your very contentious theory that all these subjects have been changed by technology?
I basically agree with the first point - Embedded Technology (as I define it) is about something that is integral to the discipline and thus becomes invisible, its not an add on. I think Crispin mis-reads my motivation - but we will come to that in a moment.
I agree that the subjects taught in schools have not been fundamentally changed by digital technology (Crispin's item 2). However, I believe that the disciplines outside schools have been transformed by digital technology - the things that people in 'real world' (meaning the world outside school) are different because of digital technology, the sorts of questions they can ask and the ways in which they can try to answer them and represent their answers are radically different. I think that this is really problematic - the subjects taught in schools should bear some relationship to the real world disciplines. Thus my motivation, and the reason why I think we need the term Embedded Technology, is to flag up the ways in which digital technologies have changed the nature of disciplines and should therefore impact on the school curriculum.
The specific point about putting 'text' rather than 'book' in the English PoS reflects a desire to operate in the real world - if one suggested more radical changes to the draft PoS then you would be totally ignored - so its about trying to make changes which appear trivial but at least open up possibilities and might have some chance of being implemented.
I find the claim that 'computers have not even changed the discipline of Computing' difficult to grasp - firstly, I think the discipline is called Computer Science (at least that is what the BCS, CAS, RAEng have been calling it. Secondly, (and not withstanding the first point), if it weren't for computers there wouldn't be a discipline called Computing ...
In response to comment 3 that the term is redundant - if it were the case that school curricula reflected their related disciplines then I would agree with you. However, until that is the case there is a need for a term in order to highlight the issue and give us a way to talk about it meaningfully.
Maybe I was sloppy in talking about "Computing" rather than "Computer Science" in reference to the thing that hasn't changed. The latter is an essentially logical process and is prior to computers themselves. You could study it, for example, using a hypothetical Turing Machine. It is basically Maths and logic and that does not change. It is not me who says that, it is the Royal Society and they should know.
While I support you on "texts", I do not see how this affects the essential subject, which is either about literature (e.g. D H Lawrence's approach to industrialisation) or language (the use of devices such as metaphor and assonance, different rhetorical registers etc) - none of this is affected by whether you are reading from paper or a tablet.
I accept that the nature of *work* may have changed but this does not mean that subjects have changed - except when you move towards vocational training. But perhaps you could give some examples of how you think technology has changed subject disciplines.
I will accept (what may be different sides of the same coin) that:
(a) computers have changed the ways in which abstract knowledge is applied, new ways of working; (b) computers have created new disciplines like computer modelling; (c) computers may have changed what we think is worth learning; (d) computers may have enabled us to discover new things - they have provided new sources of evidence...
...but I maintain that all of these changes are in fact fairly peripheral. The core knowledge of Maths and English, History and Science, problem solving and teamwork, analytical thought and creative endeavour, have hardly changed at all.
Perhaps you could give some examples of how you think computers *have* fundamentally changed subject disciplines?
Hmm - I struggle with the notion that the discipline of Computer Science exists separate from computers today. I recognise that the logical processes that underpin Computer Science and some of the early (mechanical) computational devices pre-dated computers, but at some point the discipline presumably has expanded beyond the underlying maths and logic as a result of digital technology. Isn't that so? Could you teach Computer Science without reference to computers today?
I am intrigued by your argument that the changes that digital technology have made are "peripheral" to the core of disciplines.
It seems to me to parallel the debate about whether digital technology has changed how we think and/or learn. In that debate I tend towards saying that digital technology hasn't fundamentally changed how we think or learn - it may be that some of our 'cognitive muscles' have become flabby from lack of use, and other 'cognitive muscles' have got stronger. However, there may come a point, and this is where I struggle, at which the unused 'cognitive muscles' atrophy, and when that happens then something has changed (cos those 'cognitive muscles' no longer exist, they can't be revitalised by future use).
I do wonder what the point of a discipline is - and I guess I would argue that it is about a way of seeing and engaging with the world. If that is the case, and as you have agreed, digital technology has changed the ways in which we apply knowledge, work, think is worth learning, provided new sources of evidence (and allowed us to ask and answer new questions) then hasn't the discipline changed (even if some of the fundamental 'knowledge' has remained constant?
I'd love to hear from other people who are experts in other disciplines on their views about whether or not digital technology has changed their discipline. My strong feeling is that it has, whilst agreeing that some fundamental principles (e.g. 1+1=2) have not changed.
I think we are very close on this one - and I agree that the general discussion is an interesting one. I think it also parallels an educational discussion about the point at which you move to vocational courses. If it is the application of subject knowledge rather than its fundamental principles that have changed, then too much emphasis on technological application may represent a premature move to vocational training.
At the same time, I think that abstract principle needs to be contextualised in a variety of challenging and compelling ways. E.g. what maths was used to work out the mass of the Siberian meteorite? My only quibble is that this is a function of pedagogy and not curriculum (i.e. top level learning objectives).
I echo your call for more contributions to the discussion!
- If we do not need “embedded technology”, then neither do we need “ICT” as a new umbrella term. Even laying aside all the (so far unanswered) arguments that the Royal Society, the DfE and I have put against this term, its use in the context that you are suggesting would be highly misleading, considering that it has always been used up to now (by yourself and everyone else) to refer to the National Curriculum subject.
As argued previously, I think we do need to be able to talk about the ways in which digital technology is used across the curriculum, and to distinguish between the use that is integral the subject content (or should be if the subject relates to the real world discipline) and the use that is about teaching strategies/techniques. So having three terms is useful: one relating to the impact of digital technology on the subject/curriculum (what I have called Embedded Technology), one relating to the impact on pedagogy (what I have called TEL) and a collective term to cover both (which I have called ICT).
The fact that ICT has historically been used to cover the cross curricula use of digital technology, and is still used in most of Europe and places like Australia in part explains why I think it is foolish to jettison it completely.
I do not think you have dealt with my challenge to your assumption that technology has changed core subject disciplines. A music teacher may wish to use MIDI software as a means of teaching music - but the aim of the subject is not about learning about MIDI software, but rather about understanding the nature of music.
The call for subjects to "reflect real world disciplines" (a little like the call for "authentic" learning) strikes me as risking bringing ephemeral, vocational training into the classroom, and failing to address the abstract transferable understandings that will equip children to navigate the rapidly evolving technological landscape. These are good teaching techniques but they do not impact curriculum aims.
- So the taxonomy that I think we are heading towards is somewhat different to that which you suggest. I suggest the following:
- Computer Science
- Digital skills
- Education technology
We really aren't that far apart ... I think that Digital Skills implies a narrower definition that I think we need - and whilst it reflects more accurately how the Royal Society defined Digital Literacy it is not the term that they used.
We seem to be agreed that there needs to be a term to refer to the cross curricula use of digital technologies - I am reluctant to introduce yet another new term (such as Educational Technology) though if you have been following my bliki you will have noticed that I did use that term previously when ICT was being used to mean the subject. Now that ICT doesn't mean the subject I think it is better to stick with it meaning the full range of cross curricula use (because that is what many people have meant by it in the past). I also think it is useful to be able to distinguish between different facets of cross curricula use - in terms of impact of digital technology on the curriculum/subject content and on pedagogy.
I agree that the Royal Society did not use "digital skills" - but as described in my blog post, the DfE *is* now showing signs that it will use this phrase to refer to what the Royal Society called "digital literacy". It is a way, I suggest, of drawing some clear blue definitional water with what you call "digital literacy".
The choosing of terms is, as I said at the top, a matter largely of marketing - and continuity of usage is very important. If you decree that "pig" should be used to refer to what everyone up to now has called "cow", then you are going to cause a lot of confusion. "TEL" is very little used in schools, being mainly used in HE. "Education technology" is widely used in the US, where "TEL" is virtually unheard of - and "education technology", if you take my definition of it, is going to be an international market, dominated (if current anti-market, anti-innovation attitudes in the UK persist) by US suppliers. So we might as well get used to it.
And the main reason why we have got rid of "ICT" is that its meaning is poorly defined, a problem that would be compounded by continuing to use it for a new meaning. I think the DfE's footwork in this respect gives us an object lesson - if a term is tainted or confusing, drop it and use another, do not fight for it - it is a waste of time.
I do not define "education technology" as having anything to do with the "cross-curricular use of technology". This makes the same mistake as the term "embedded technology" - it suggests that education technology is something to do with the curriculum - and this lies at the heart of the confusion. It is nothing to do with the curriculum. You do not talk about "embedded tables and chairs" and you do not talk about "cross curriculum tables and chairs".
Much of this has been responded to in other posts so not reiterating those points here.
Re ICT - what I am proposing is not giving ICT a new meaning. ICT has in the past been used to mean three things (the subject, cross-curricula use of digital technology, and the digital technology itself). What I am proposing is that we focus the definition of ICT so that it only means one of these things - namely the cross-curricula use of digital technology. So far from creating confusion it should help to create clarity.
But I think the conflation is deliberate - it is part of the "ICT" brand that you improve learning by teaching a set of digital learning skills which supports independent and peer-mediated learning, de-prioritising the "knowledge-based curriculum". And the evidence is that that is not true or helpful.
In which case you presumably are in favour of de-conflating ...
I think we also need to move away from a dichotomy between 'knowledge' and 'skills' - neither can operate in the absence of the other. Knowledge, as I understand it, is the application of information. Skills have to be applied to something.
Re Digital technology
- As for the hardware and software — what you call “Digital technology” — I suspect that we will end up with a mish-mash of terms like “subject-specific technology”, “IT infrastructure”, “the network” etc. The danger, which I am not sure how to avoid, is that we use “IT” to refer both to the hardware and software being used, and on the other hand to the subject. For that reason, I think the use of “digital technology” is not a bad idea. But I am not convinced it will ever catch on. Nor do I think that the lack of a formal taxonomy in this respect will do much harm, mainly because “IT” as a curriculum subject is itself an umbrella term, which I suspect will be little used. In practice, people will be studying “digital art”, “digital games creation”, “network administration”, “database architecture”, “web design” etc.
I fear you are right - but would like to avoid that, which is exactly why I have suggested the term. Whether or not it catches on depends upon whether sufficient of us use it consistently ...
On the page http://edfutures.net/ICT_is_dead_-_long_live_ICT 'Software Engineering' is not mentioned, so....
"Computing: The National Curriculum subject (in effect a container), which should encompass:
Computer Science: the scientific discipline of Computer Science incorporating software creation tools (such as compiler techniques), hardware operation and principles (not the manufacture / electronic side), networking principles, computational thinking. An umbrella for the academic theory underpinning 'Computing'.
Software Engineering: The processes, principles, methodologies, standards (quality assurance) and practices employed in the creation of software such as: data structures, computational thinking, programming (lots of programming if discussion of the draft PoS are anything to go by), systems architecture, design, problem solving, testing and verification, maintenance, change / version control.
Information Technology (IT): the assembly, deployment, configuration, maintenance and support of digital systems to meet user needs for particular purposes. (Note that this is narrower than the use in industry, which generally encompasses Computer Science as well)
.... rest unchanged. "
I'm not saying that everything should be taught, just that the context needs to be correct and critically quality assurance (testing / verification) and version control need to be added as an important element of software creation in any form.
The Royal Society Report, DfE, BCS/RAEng, and most of the other folk involved in drafting the revised PoS for Computing (or ICT as it was then) had the subject divided into the three strands of Computer Science, IT, and Digital Literacy.
Software Engineering presumably is thus a subset of Computer Science rather than an additional strand within Computing.
Would you agree? If not, why not?
And why has Digital Literacy disappeared from the definition?
Sorry for confusion over 'Digital Literacy' I only put up what I had changed to avoid confusion. Edited.
Going to think about the hierarchy of C, CS and SE.
Interesting thought about the hierarchy. I consider software engineering to be a 'doing' thing with defined practices and principles. Whereas a 'science' is the academic theory and discovery of new things. Would you say that Automotive Engineering at a motor manufacturer is a 'science' or more 'engineering'?
The BCS Glossary of Computing Terms tenth edition states 'Software Engineering' as "is the science of designing and constructing new or modified computer systems, based mainly on computer software (programs)". But have things now changed from science to engineering? And that the practice of creating software is an engineering process, but the development of new software engineering techniques is a 'science'.
I think that perhaps the division into Computer Science, IT and Digital literacy was a pragmatic one about not wanting too many areas.
Looking at the content of the Draft PoS for Computing it looks like the doing bits (that you probably quite correctly label Software Engineering) are subsumed within Computer Science.
This is also what happens when you get to GCSEs - I'm not aware of there being a Software Engineering GCSE, but Computer Science GCSEs contain lots of programming.
How could I improve my (draft) response to the NC consultation?
Which bits of my draft response do you agree with?
How would you like me to change the bits you don't agree with (or just think could be improved)?
Peter - with regard to the comment re the use of 'books' the following quote might help:
‘.....as of mid-2010, almost one third of the world’s population uses the internet. Digital technologies have changed the ways texts are produced and displayed; and those changes have had an impact on how students read’ PISA 2009 Results: Students on line- Volume IV (c) OECD 2011
What do you think about the draft Computing PoS? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Why? How would you improve the PoS?
There may be a whole lot of other issues you want to discuss (I have not touched on professional development for example). Feel free to share any views you have on the draft Computing PoS - as always in a constructively critical professional manner! (I added that last bit cos I was in danger of starting to rant in my bliki post - I suspect that many of us feel quite strongly about all of this) ...
I've posted a few thoughts of my own, subsequent to a similar analysis of what had been changed, at 
Thanks both for your useful summaries of the changes. One of the big issues for KS1/2 is how to adequately get the increased content/subject knowledge (programming, computer science etc) over to our PGCE students who now have even less time in University. There is less and less contact time with these students with more time spent in school.
ITE certainly faces some challenges at the moment and it will be interesting to see how Teach Direct and other 'non-traditional' routes develop.
The TA has set up a 'Primary expert group' to provide advice in the form of resources to help ITE cope with the requirements of the new Computing PoS. That group has met twice and is developing a website of resources organised around key elements within the current draft PoS. I believe that the website will be made public in late March, and there will be links to it from the ITTE website.
Yes certainly useful Peter but giving the students extra web-based resources is only part of the issue I think. Once they get into school getting them to do extra enrichment activities is difficult if they are not integrated into module requirements I find. Interesting challenges ahead.
I think the resources are aimed at tutors, though some may be 'self-study' materials they can pass on to students.
I agree that given proportion of 'on the job' training, what happens in 'placements' is critical - which brins us back to the even bigger challenge of CPD (and teacher professionalism).
This discussion links to the bliki entry of the same name (3-Dec-2012).
Do you think ICT is a damaged brand?
Do you think that the subject name should be changed, and if so what would you call it?
I think we can go on changing names, ad infinitum, but that in itself changes nothing. One can understand CAS, BCS and RAE wanting to push for renaming (rebranding) ICT, it would then give them a disproportionate stake and influence over a curriculum in which, after all, they are not the key stakeholders. The rhetoric of the ‘damaged brand’ is a straw man designed to achieve a fait accompli.
I don’t think anyone would argue against a rethink of the ICT curriculum, indeed the minimalist nature of the PoS, (if you remove the surrounding waffle and the inconsistent or misdirected use of language), opens up real opportunities for an implementation that is relevant and aware of possible futures - but let’s be clear this is NOT rebranding.
Like it or not ICT is an internationally recognised acronym and is the default for the educational use of computing and information technology in education, by many, including the European Union, UNESCO and the World Bank. ICT is used as a flag to attract research papers and delegates to international conferences and for those reasons I think we should resist the knee jerk calls, and carry on using ICT. I believe we need to maintain a sense of, (global), perspective and context, and not go down a one way alley to accommodate the transient, either: here today - gone tomorrow, politicians, or self serving ideologies.
There are certainly some vested interests at work here who are trying to play up the damaged brand notion so that the subject gets renamed. In so doing they are damaging the brand. The challenge for folk who want to retain ICT is surely how to counter the lobbying of these other vested interests. If we just sit back and do nothing whilst BCS/CAS, RAEng and other influential voices are actively trying to persuade the DfE to change the name of the National Curriculum subject then I would guess that the name will get changed. How do you think we should counter this move?
I don't think it is mainly about brand damage and certainly not about vested interests. To say that those who have criticised the ICT term are thereby responsible for damaging the brand is just shooting the messenger.
Getting rid of "ICT" is about getting our terminology straight.
The main problem with ICT is that it is a confused term which muddles together several things - which leads to some muddled thinking about technology in education more generally. I have made this argument in http://edtechnow.net/2012/01/18/scrapping-ict/ and more recently at http://edtechnow.net/2012/11/17/digital-literacy-and-the-new-ict-curriculum/. The same argument - more or less - was also made by the Royal Society report. If you think that ICT is a useful term, then that is the argument you need to rebut.
As an acronym, ICT is not used outside education - and if it is used in education outside the UK, it is only because it was exported by the UK.
I agree that the term ICT is used to mean several different things (see my bliki post on that subject). However I think that CAS and BCS do have a vested interest in changing the name of the subject. Their 'underhand behaviour' to mis-quote Merlin John doesn't seem to me to reflect the actions of folk who want to engage the wider educational community in deciding on the best way forward for the subject.
Agree the terminology is an all encompassing term more suited to cope with the skill levels of the teachers in the particular institution where pupils interact with digital technology (ICT does include all forms including use of mobile forms). The use of basic Office packages is a core skill and therefore you could consider is ICT a subject or should the aspects of word processing, presentation and spreadsheets be taught in Maths, English or Art curricula. I am suggesting that ICT should have the status of core or common skills. It is cross curricular! With the investment in teacher training in ICT for the last 10 or so years should we still be teaching ICT as a separate subject!
The trick is to have the technology disappear into the background and not be the learning objective. Teach the skills when they are needed for a practical use in core subjects. "ICT" is as much an enabler as being able to read or write or add up. If we want to teach Computer Science do so and not confuse it with personal communication and core skills training for the 21st Century Work place! As former Head of Science and ICT very frustrating when staff do not match pupils ability to their subject curricular progression. (In brackets for a reason, especially when they are asking the pupils to do something they are often not able to do themselves.) Understandable why this story about unused http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20348322 is no surprise.
I'm not sure I totally agree with you PSpalding. In principe I agree that it is most effective to learn skills in context, but
- There is a real danger of teachers focussing on the things they feel comfortable with, which may mean for some/many children that they are not taught effective ICT skills
- ICT is not just about skills see my earlier attempt at a definition
- The system, and in particular the assessment and accountability elements of it, mitigate against the use of digital technology much/most of the time. Combine this with the endemic and growing level of risk aversion in education and it is no wonder that most teachers don't experiment with the new pedagogical models that would fit best with the use of digital technology (but represent a transformation of practice according to the Education Innovation Framework (EdIF)).
(I moved this comment to here. It was made by User:126.96.36.199, who I have asked to register with areal name!)
It seems to me that there could be an argument that with very low UCAS points requiremments, poor employability rates and declining enrolments it is Computer Science which could be the "damaged brand" not ICT?
This seems to be Bob Harrison, at least Bob is making the same point at http://www.agent4change.net/policy/curriculum/1904-computational-thinkers-use-gove-back-door-for-ict.html, where I have answered at some length.
This thread is linked to the bliki entry of the same name (10-Dec-2012).
Do you think the DfE will put out a PoS for ICT (or Computing) that requires vast sums of professional development?
If not what do you think they will do instead?
I find it hard not to think that a great deal of DfE activity isn't particularly considered.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Department decided at this late stage to dramatically alter what has been constructed, or to offer the PoS as guidance only, or to drop ICT from the NC or to wholeheartedly endorse the whole thing and then offer no resource for CPD.
The great heat generated about ex-servicemen teaching for example has only resulted in around 120 entering teacher training schemes. Lots of noise in the system makes it very hard to read the signals..
I worry that you might be right Alex. Someone (who I guess I better not name) suggested to me the other day that Gove might come along to BETT next year and announce that in the light of the fantastic work that has been done by teachers this year, whilst the ICT PoS and ATs were disapplied, he has decided to drop ICT from the National Curriculum totally.
I think that is unlikely - but I could imagine a scenario where Gove says something along the lines of:
- Every one (including the BCS and RAEng according to Merlin John) have been advising me to adhere to the recommendations in the Royal Society Report on Computing in Schools
- I have been listening, and based on that advice I have decided that we will drop ICT from the National Curriculum and introduce Digital Literacy as a basic subject
- Schools will continue to be free to teach Computer Science as part of their greater curriculum freedom, and I expect to see a range of high quality qualifications for Computer Science at Key Stage 4 and 5 thanks to the fantastic work of the exam boards.
We would all be losers if that were to happen.
I have been asked how much CPD are we talking about? - and to be honest that is a pretty difficult question to answer.
I recon that there are over 200,000 full time primary school teachers in England, of whom most would need some input to help them with the new ICT PoS (if the 2nd draft was implemented). Once folk got over the fright of the terminology I think we would find that most primary school teachers already teach programming (using programmable toys such as Big Track, Pip or Roamer) and already cover most of the other aspects. The emphasis towards Computer Science is changed and many teachers would need CPD to support them in moving beyond programmable toys to using programming tools such as Scratch.
I have much less idea about the number of staff in secondary schools who would need CPD in order to be able to meet the new requirements - lets assume a couple of ICT teachers in each secondary school and roughtly 3,400 secondary schools - that makes 6,800 ICT specialists. I'd guess that 80% or more of those would need staff development in order to be able to effectively teach the more complex aspects of Computer Science within the draft ICT PoS.
Do you think my figures look about right?
My guess would be that close to 100% of secondary ICT teachers would need CPD in some aspects of the new PoS. There may well be many who can manage the coding elements, many that can teach the hardware stuff and many who understand the networking material. I'd be very surprised if there were any more than a handful who would be able to teach it all without help.
I think the terms suggested by Peter below are much more clear than simply using ICT as an inclusive concept.
"Digital technology to refer to the technology itself ICT to refer to the subject called ICT Embedded technology to refer to the use of digital technology where it has changed the nature of other subjects as is thus now an integral part of them TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) where digital technology extends our repertoire of teaching strategies/methods (Pedagogy)"
"I have to admit that I struggle with whether or not technology is a plural noun – do I need to say technologies?" (Peter). Hmm, couldn't find ways to quote others, so I have used "...". - While reading ICT PoS document, I have found different terms which to me seem similar in terms of meaning they conveyed. For example, digital systems, digital technologies, digital media. I don't see clear distinctions between them!!
I agree that we need to get our terminology straight but do not find Peter's suggestions particularly helpful.
Digital technology. Isn't "IT" much more commonly accepted?
ICT If we *have* to because of statute - but then only as an umbrella term. I would prefer "Computing". See argument and references given above.
Embedded technology See my argument against this term at http://edtechnow.net/2012/11/17/digital-literacy-and-the-new-ict-curriculum/ and http://edtechnow.net/2012/10/14/the-dog-that-didnt-bark/.
TEL See my argument against this acronym at http://edtechnow.net/2012/12/05/tel/. I think "education technology" is much better.
You've seen the draft PoS for ICT that CAS/RAEng coordinated the drafting of -
Are you happy with the suggested content?
Do you think the balance between Computer Science, IT and Digital Literacy is about right?
If you had to suggest ONE improvement to the draft PoS what would it be (and why)?
I am not quite sure how pupils can use 'unfamiliar' technologies 'confidently' and 'responsibly? Or this aspect has to do with the assumptions that pupils can acquire skills to use new and unfamiliar technologies by manipulating objects or through collaboration?
'Unfamiliar technologies' Is used to refer to technologies that are new to the pupils when they start learning about them. The term 'new technologies' was considered because it is not that they are new per se but that they are unfamiliar to the pupils when they start learning about them. I agree it sounds contradictory to be able to use something that is unfamiliar!