In this article AJR look at the subject of ICT Classes “boring” Stimulation Is Needed! Having worked in the educational IT sector for many years in a lead role i have noticed allot of changes in the ICT curriculum some good and some not so good, one area in particular computer hardware and computer networks and why these areas are not been taught in secondary education considering ICT stands for “Information Communication Technology” its ironic as This is a huge part of Technology and information is been passed around inside a computer and over a network, as computer hardware communicates with other hardware so the system can function and on a bigger scale a server acting as a domain controller communicates with the rest of the computers on the network and it responds to security authentication requests (logging in, checking permissions, etc.) within the Windows Server domain.
ICT Classes are the bain of any student’s life. Being patronised by the governing bodies assuming they can’t make text bold or even open Microsoft Word.
Nowadays, the students knowledge can far surpass the teachers and it can sometimes be a case of role-reversal, the students teaching the teachers what to teach (what a mouthful!)
Modern ICT classes have been branded “not fit for purpose” and the kids are “bored rigid”. Instead of the boring, slow progress which would bore any student, regardless of ability – how about showing students what really goes on in computers?
One could argue that taking a computer apart and showing the students how to put it back together, before asking them to do the same, would be much more beneficial and they would understand HOW computers work, rather than learning how to make a new spreadsheet on Excel.
Most students already know the basics of the Microsoft office package and its not rocket science to figure something out let alone planning a whole lesson around it!,
In fact I remember when I worked in schools full time, I would witness students correcting the teachers when they explain things incorrectly as most of the IT teachers did not have a clue!, when students asked how to do a curtain task they would use us IT professionals as a bail out by submitting a unrelated helpdesk ticket or sending a student to the IT office, better still waiting for us to walk passed there classroom so they could drag us in so we can go to their class room to show them or explain to them….. it was a joke! But very satisfying knowing you have just wrapped a teacher up in knots and the kids knew.
Don’t get me wrong this is not me bashing IT Teachers i get on well with them and still keep in touch with the ones i have worked with in the past and they share the same views as me to a point were i asked this question to them and i was asked to gather some old computers and parts for a after school club so they could stop behind and we could go through all the parts and explain what each part does and then go through some basic strip and build processes, fitting all the parts together, this was great as it all came about from me asking the question and it was followed through, but this was only an after school activity and not part of the curriculum and i think it should be starting in stages and building up to the network stages.
Someone could argue what if a student has no interest in IT at this level, well that’s ok make it part of the options stage when students get to choose certain subjects to study during Year 9 (ages 13-14) student will choose which subjects to study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10 to 11, ages 14-16). These will be the subjects they will take for GCSE exams. more information can be found here.
It is still important that children learn how to use Microsoft Office and the whole office package, but most likely they know the basics and it does not motivate them. Offering App Development, taking a computer apart or even just showing kids what pieces of hardware do what inside a computer or printer might just captivate them and give them a wider general interest in computing as this is informative and practical.
This can also be taken a step further giving students an understanding of how a computer network functions, by creating a small network of computers managed by a small server running as a domain controller, and adding computers to the network domain, creating groups and policies and deploying system images and software packages.
This could even be achieved in a virtual environment to save space so only one physical computer is needed which would be the physical host (obviously the computer specs will need to add up) with 2 or 3 virtual client machines set up on it using the free virtual box or if using a windows 8 client machine the hyper v manager can be used. Then a simple windows 2012 hyper v server setup to manage the client workstations this can also be a virtual machine installed on the physical host machine.
This would be awesome as the students who have that interest in computer networks and server setups and roles will be able to lean from a younger age, this gives them a foot in the door and a better understanding of the knowledge required in the world of IT and Network infrastructure. Then they can further their leaning at college and university if they choose to do so. If schools can teach textiles, media studies childcare and fashion. Then why not increase the knowledge base around IT lessons,
I understand that the current set of IT teachers don’t understand this area of IT and properly never even setup or are familiar with some of the terms used, But why not make it a requirement that this must be learnt, instead of just limiting it to knowledge in Microsoft office and basic coding and database skills.
By leaving this uninteresting curriculum to stagnate in boring and unproductive classes, it is alienating students whose time might be more creatively displayed in a Java program knocked up in five minutes or creating something truly creative and wonderful using the Adobe creative suite.