Scottish Education III

Judging from the deafening silence, my previous post has left the subscribers godsmacked… or bored to tears. But I will persever.

A Curriculum for Excellence will require pupils to have time to work on their own or in teams. Projects cannot be teacher dominated. So somewhere in the school day time must be set aside for these activities. One solution is to provide all classrooms with the necessary technology. This technology provides the motivation, the research facilities, the editing capability and the publishing incentives all of which are documented daily by John Johnston, Ewan McIntosh, David Noble and others here in Scotland and many more across the Atlantic. But every classroom does not have the necessary hardware. You will notice that I do not specify this hardware as, over time, this may well change. In fact, most classrooms will not be so equipped in the foreseeable future.

All I am suggesting is that in secondary schools there is actually adequate hardware if it is redeployed. As a computing teacher I cannot really defend the hogging of the bulk of the hardware in a a school by two or three departments. In fact, I might dare to suggest that these subjects might be better taught if pupils did not always sit in front of computers in every lesson.

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4 thoughts on “Scottish Education III

  1. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for the link.
    I am interested in the idea of teaching computing without computers, paper program models? It would be lovely to see what would happen if say computing and French changed rooms for a week. (mind you I think the staff would need a week off to prepare and another one to recover).
    Like you, David, Ollie AB and Ewan seem to be thinking about different sorts of hardware recently.

  2. Yes it does sound bizarre, but much of the computing syllabus is theory and the final exams are all theoretical. Business Studies would need more access because one of its finals does include a practical exam.

    The French / Computing swap highlights the inconsistencies. I am sure language teachers could make a case which is as compelling as computing teachers for access to technology. In English pupils do a lot of writing. Why are they denied computers most of the time? It is really just an outdated concept that says all computing departments must have the majority of computers in a school.

    In a typical secondary there are probably six or seven computer labs – 120 to 140 computers – another 60 to 70 teacher machines. That leaves hardly any for general use.

  3. I think there is scope for off computer work in Computing classrooms, but more generally a bit of work on and a bit of work off is probably the most useful.

    I’m not convinced that “hogging” is the right word to use when describing a key piece of equipment for our subject. Are Home Economics “hogging” the ovens? OK, I know this isn’t entirely a fair comparison since there isn’t a universal need for ovens, but I don’t know that the problem of poor access to ICT equipment can be solved by robbing Peter to pay the non-computing Paul.

    I wonder how long it will be before pupils routinely bring in their own connected devices. We are just about there with mobile phones but they are probably too expensive to use. Wi-fi enabled PDAs are a real possibility though and they are becoming cheaper and more powerful.

  4. As I have said in answer to another of your comments, this is not ideal. “Hogging” may be a bit harsh but as a computing teacher I have often told pupils to push computers aside to give themselves more room to work at other tasks. Computers are a very expensive scarce resource so should be used as time effectively as possible.

    My model is not to be treated as practical but merely to highlight that redeployment of computers should be considered.

    There are experiments with PDAs but they certainly don’t compare with a computer keyboard and screen. Perhaps the 100 dollar computer should not just be for the Third World! It would be cheaper even than present day PDAs.

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