Let us hope that "ICT" is dead and buried

Fragment of a discussion from Talk:PeterT's bliki
Jump to: navigation, search


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?

Crispin Weston18:11, 7 May 2013

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?

PeterT16:36, 8 May 2013

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.

PeterT16:49, 8 May 2013

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!

Crispin Weston09:52, 13 May 2013