The video above is the keynote presentation by Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) at the BETT Show 2012 on ICT in the National Curriculum. Many interesting points came across including the vision for ICT in the English Curriculum when we in Scotland are now in the final stages of publishing assessment criteria for our Curriculum for Excellence.
Any teacher or professional involved with educational ICT should take half an hour out of their ‘CPD time’ and listen to his words. Some of the key points include,
1. A recognition of the role that games can play in education.
Games and interactive software can help pupils acquire complicated skills and rigorous knowledge in an engaging and enjoyable way. Adaptive software has the ability to recognise and respond to different abilities, personalising teaching for every pupil. With the expert help of a teacher, students can progress at different rates through lessons calibrated to stretch them just the right amount.Britain has an incredibly strong games industry, with vast potential to engage with education both in this country and all over the world.
At Do-Be, we have regularly championed the potential of games being incredibly engaging and effective tools for learning. This is apparent in our Teach-IT resources. PC, Console or Handheld games can be a powerful way of engaging, inspiring and enthusing learners of all ages. With numerous Games Design course’s available in our universities and the success of companies such as BAFTA Award winning Dynamo Games (Dundee - Championship Manager) and Codeplay (Edinburgh) there is a blossoming marketplace in Scotland and throughout the UK for games designers and coders – but where should the love of games begin? In University? In the bedroom at home? Or embedded as part of our curriculum.
2. The government will not be dictating the detail of the curriculum.
While things are changing so rapidly, while the technology is unpredictable and the future is unknowable, Government must not wade in from the centre to prescribe to schools exactly what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. We must work with these developments as they arise: supporting, facilitating and encouraging change, rather than dictating it. Technology in schools will no longer be micromanaged by Whitehall. By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we’re giving schools and teachers freedom over what and how to teach; revolutionising ICT as we know it. Let me stress - ICT will remain compulsory at all key stages, and will still be taught at every stage of the curriculum. The existing Programme of Study will remain on the web for reference. But no English school will be forced to follow it any more. From this September, all schools will be free to use the amazing resources that already exist on the web.
One of Do-Be’s many strengths is that we identify exciting open-source software that can be used by educators in schools at no cost to themselves. The refreshing comments by Gove identify this in no uncertain terms. For far to long propriety software has weighed down creativity and development in schools but now we see the rapid growth of Google Edu and other ‘platforms’ for supporting learning, teachers must be given the freedom to choose, pilot and share software and content that can be easily accessed by learners and teachers alike. This rings true to our own Michael Russell’s (Cabinet Secretary for Education) comments regarding the use of open-source programs in the development of our own Scottish online Learning Network.
3. A stronger emphasis on Computer Science.
The new Computer Science courses will reflect what you all know: that Computer Science is a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject. After all, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is one of the most innovative and successful proponents of Computer Science today. But his computing skills are just as rigorous as the rest of his talents – which include Maths, Science, French, Hebrew, Latin and Ancient Greek. Computer Science requires a thorough grounding in logic and set theory, and is merging with other scientific fields into new hybrid research subjects like computational biology.
So I am also announcing today that, if new Computer Science GCSEs are developed that meet high standards of intellectual depth and practical value, we will certainly consider including Computer Science as an option in the English Baccalaureate.
Computer Science is now recognised as an important discipline. One interesting thought, and it is just that, is that here in Scotland, the final touches are being put to our new CfE Computing Courses whilst Gove argues that CS ‘ requires a thorough grounding in logic and set theory’. I am personally interested to know just how much of the new computing curriculum is devoted to basic computer logic, coding and programming compared to the Standard Grade/Higher course(s) that exist just now. Perhaps, a draft stage, we still have the time to add/change the direction of the course to reflect developing and emerging technologies and industry.
Needless to say, Do-Be thoroughly enjoyed Mr Gove’s comments and will continue to pioneer the development of and use of ICT as and effective and engaging tool for education – across the whole curriculum.