ICT is Facebook innit!

Hand drawn status "update" box on wallpaper

By Neil Adam, CC licence, SA NC

The latest @naace newsletter carried a link to a Public Technology post, Editor’s Manifesto: ICT, a casualty of the curriculum review?

The post (rightly) laments the Government’s relegation of ICT to the also-ran of the curriculum and Michael Gove’s insistence on bringing facts to the fore. But it also quotes Microsoft research:

A recent study by Microsoft revealed at BETT earlier this month, found a staggering 71% feel that they learn more about computers and technology outside the classroom than in it. Indeed, 82% of 16 to 18 year-olds in education already use Facebook every day…

I don’t know that the last part of this actually comes from the MS research. (I cannot find the original source and the MS Schools Blog does not mention it.) However, the implicit, underlying curriculum model sets no vision for ICT, no rigour. It’s trivial! No wonder young people think they already know all about ICT – and we are the ones setting a parochial, restricted agenda.

Yes, Facebook is ICT, but ICT is very definitely not Facebook.

A colleague (to remain nameless here) recently wrote in a @naace forum post

Rationalise and simplify the NC – should be popular with schools and politicians. Bring NC demands in line with National Occupational Standards. Improve the links between subject processes (eg presentation to audience in English and the Arts) and ICT. Refocus specialist IT more on the competences needed for e-portfolios and the collaborative technologies needed to support learning across the curriculum.

Is that it for specialist I(C)T? The ability to record and upload aspects of ‘school’ work (via video and audio, as well as written outputs), plus the skills to use collaborative technologies?

I trust my previous posts have indicated my concerns about ICT in KS3 and the focus (in many classrooms) on ‘office’ productivity software. But replacing that with a different – and even more limited range? – of communication and collaboration technologies is no solution at all.

I have no doubt at all that the colleague who wrote the above would want students to understand what they were doing and use such applications to develop a range of higher level skills (such as reflection and critical analysis). But that is hardly a curriculum for specialist ICT.

We need to be opening up a panorama of applications of technology, not closing in on social networks and communication tools.

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