#500ict – A vision of the future

This is my response to a request by @chrisleach for the #500ict campaign.  More details can be found on the #rethinkingICT blog

#500ict – A vision of the future

We shouldn’t ignore what was good about the ‘old curriculum’ as many of us have created excellent lessons that the pupils hugely enjoy and have gained wonderful learning experiences from – these lessons should stay, and more importantly be shared.  What we need to do, as has been suggested, is upgrade the curriculum, not abandon it!

An upgrade allows us to be even more creative and include elements that we haven’t delivered in the past, including more web 2.0 and the use of a variety of programming other than Scratch.  The content must not be restrictive and should cover a wide range of technology that pupils could actually use in the real world.  We should introduce pupils to new software / apps so that they can make informed decisions about what is most appropriate for them to use rather than it being prescribed for them.

Pupils should have the sense of a journey from how a computer is made, through to how software can be programmed and then on to using that software responsibly, as a daily tool and also more creatively.  The curriculum must engage pupils with real world examples to show that what they are doing isn’t just something for the classroom – they are learning life skills.  As Arthur Ashe said “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

In planning and sharing ideas for a new curriculum, let us avoid delivering software in isolation; we must give careful consideration to project based learning as a method for allowing pupils to combine a range of skills to solve the same types of problems that they will face in the ‘real world’.   It is rare that we use one application on its own.

Assessment must not be rigid like the hoop-jumping that we see at GCSE and ‘A’ level; pupils should be encouraged to seek their own pathways to find a solution.  Do we always need to grade work, when surely it would be better to encourage pupils to evaluate their own and each others work?  Is there always a ‘right’ way of using technology to solve a problem?  By creating inflexible mark schemes we are stifling our pupils creativity.

#RethinkingICT is a fantastic way of getting like minded people together to share a vision; however, this vision must now become a reality.  A new, upgraded curriculum needs to be delivered in September and we all need to share ideas about lessons that we know have already been successful for us.  I have been creating mind maps of resources, articles, websites and lesson plans which I hope more people will add to so that colleagues have quick access to what is known to be effcetive in the classroom.  This type of sharing will stop us all trying to re-invent the great lessons and ideas that already exist.  I hope that some of you will be inspired to add to these resources before June 25th.

Reasons why girls do not opt for ICT and Careers in ICT

In my last post I explained that I believe that by getting role models in, girls will see that ICT or Computing are not only subjects and careers for the men.  What I didn’t do was adequately put forward why I believed that this was the case.  I have included a PDF of my research which I carried out a couple of years ago.

 

Why girls do not opt for ICT or careers in ICT

Should girls do ICT?

Of course the answer is yes; the real question is why don’t more girls do ICT?

Back in Jan 2010, after analysing figures at my school which proved that, proportionally, significantly more boys than girls chose GCSE ICT, I decided to do something about it.  I did quite a bit of research and also decided to contact local businesses to see if they had high flying females working in their IT departments who wouldn’t mind talking to our girls.  My thought behind this was that the girls would see that being female certainly wasn’t a barrier to success!   I arranged the first presentation shortly before the GCSE options choice in Jan 2010.  We were lucky enough to have coverage by the TES and also our local Newspaper.  You can see by reading the articles below that this contact with women in local business was a success in terms of how it affected our girls.  Indeed, the figures for the following year were also high, due to word of mouth recommendations.

Please read the articles and then continue on to see how this year’s presentation might not have been quite so successful!!!

TES

WALES – GIRLS SWITCHED ON TO ICT

An independent secondary school has dramatically boosted the number of girls studying information communications technology at GCSE – up by almost 15 times in just a year.

Staff at Cardiff’s Cathedral School were concerned that girls were not interested in ICT and regarded it as a “boys’ subject”. Last year, just 6 per cent of girls studied the subject at GCSE, an all-time low, but the proportion has now soared to 89 per cent.

Nic Patterson, the school’s head of ICT, said he was so alarmed by the decline last year that he turned to local businesses for help and advice.

He said: “We needed to show pupils how important ICT is to their future working lives. We wanted to dispel the myth that it is a difficult subject and show how vital computer skills are for popular jobs.”

Local technology and public relations companies organised seminars with pupils about the importance of the subject and the school held a careers fair highlighting the potential job opportunities arising for those with skills in the subject.

“It worked a treat and the change was immediate,” Mr Patterson said.

WESTERN MAIL – BUSINESSES CALLED IN TO OVERCOME ICT GENDER STEREOTYPE

A SCHOOL overcame a gender stereotype and reversed a decline in girls studying ICT thanks to a partnership with local businesses.

Llandaff Cathedral School in Cardiff has seen its percentage of female GCSE technology students soar from 6% to 89% in just a year.

Staff had seen falling numbers of pupils studying the subject, with participants dropping to an all-time low.

Head of ICT Nic Patterson was so alarmed by the trend, he turned to local businesses for advice. Shortly after, the Cathedral School linked up with Cardiff-based technology specialist Circle IT and Warwick Emanuel PR and Film.

 “We needed to show pupils how important ICT is to their future working lives,” said Mr Patterson. “We wanted to dispel the myth that it is a difficult subject and show how vital computer skills are for popular jobs – such as in the media and PR.

“Circle IT and Warwick Emanuel put together an informal programme where they chatted to pupils in groups and on a one-to-one basis. There was no pressure whatsoever, so the female pupils could chat about the skills they’d need in future careers and why they now have an excellent opportunity to develop them.”

He added: “It worked a treat and the change was immediate. The number of girls applying to study the subject leapt from one to 16 and the total intake for ICT in the 2010-11 academic year has more than doubled to 46 out of 60 pupils.”

Nicola Roberts, of Warwick Emanuel, said: “Studying ICT is such a beneficial subject, no matter what career pupils decide to pursue. It’s essential in my job, and what’s more it’s fun to know how to get the best out of technology and social media.

“There’s too often a misconception that ICT is just for boys and geeks and that it’s only really beneficial to pupils looking to be ICT professionals. Visiting the school and giving girls the realities of ICT seemed to be an eye-opener for many.”

Ceri Ford, from Circle IT in Cardiff, added: “ICT is, of course, what we are all about, but pupils hadn’t realised just how many careers ICT was relevant to. It’s vital that they gain an understanding from an early age – this will help them throughout their lives.”

In addition to the informal seminars from the two businesses, the school held a careers fair and provided the opportunity to study a short course in the subject.

Year Eight pupils Sophie Bird and Emily Morris are both ITC-savvy and said: “With technology growing and changing so rapidly and with more and more careers highlighting how important ICT skills are, we have both chosen ICT as one of our GCSE option subjects, even though we have a few more years to go before looking for a job.

“We were really inspired by the presentation from Circle IT and Warwick Emanuel and it made us realise that ICT isn’t just for boys. We are really looking forward to starting the new course in September. It will give us a good balance between academic and more practical subjects and hopefully equip us with some very useful skills for the future.”

With these successes in mind, I decided that I should again invite a woman in to talk to our girls so that the unfair stereotype was smashed some more!  This time I made contact with a University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics.  After several polite and detailed emails back and forth, content for the presentation was agreed and a date set.  Today was that day and I am concerned that more harm than good has been done.  Whilst the content of the presentation was interesting to me the delivery was very poor, failing to inspire.  The use of PowerPoint was disappointing when there are so many better tools.  An inability to embed a YouTube video and a hesitancy when opening files all failed to enthral the assembled group of 50 girls.  She also failed to realise the need to access our wireless network for internet access, nor did she request speakers for her video.  Her voice was quiet and drifted off during mid sentence.

I am concerned that excellent content has been killed by poor delivery (ring any bells?).

For more resources about encouraging girls to use ICT please look here.

Battle of the Bands – Album Covers

This is an idea that I have adapted from @chrisleach78 which I recently found and happened to coincide with some work that my pupils were doing.  They had just completed some excellent websites using weebly.com that included composite images of their newly created band using Gimp.

As they had been doing so well, I thought that an extension task of researching and then designing an album cover would be fun.  When I introduced the task to the pupils this morning, the feedback that I got was positive.  A copy of the sheet that I used for introducing the mini-project can be seen here as a PDF – please feel free to use!

I will aim to give an update after a few lessons