The most recent draft of the Computing Curriculum for England and Wales has majored on Computer Science at the expense of Digital Literacy. Before we can discover where the latter has gone, we will need to agree on what it is we are looking for.
the review of the ICT curriculum would allow us to disentangle the teaching of technology (“Computing”) from the use of technology to improve learning (“education technology”);
this opportunity was not yet being realised because teachers’ representatives were still led by adherents of the old conception of “ICT”, which deliberately conflated these two separate objectives.
The supporters of the old consensus have been arguing that there is no need to change the old ICT curriculum at all because all was well with the status quo. In response to some misleading information that suggested that this view had the support of OFSTED, on 5th February I wrote an opinion piece in Computing Magazine, clarifying OFSTED’s position and summarizing what I see as the problem with the debate over Digital Literacy.
This article gives some more background to the position described in Computing. It will:
analyse the current draft of the DfE’s Programme of Study (PoS) for Computing;
review the theories that lie behind the definition of “digital literacy” put forwards by the advocates of ICT;
restate the case for the adoption of the definition of “digital literacy” put forwards by the Royal Society;
propose a set of amendments to the current draft of the ICT programme of study, bringing back what I suggest is the right sort of digital literacy.
The Royal Society made a convincing argument that ICT should be replaced by a combination of Computer Science and Digital Literacy. The current draft of the new ICT PoS does not live up to this vision.
In my post Scrapping “ICT” on January 18th, I attacked the term “ICT” on the grounds that it confused two concepts: the teaching of technology (which I proposed to call Computer Studies) and the use of technology to improve learning (which I proposed to call education technology).
I had not at that time read the Royal Society report, Shut down or restart?, which had been published five days earlier. This report argued along similar lines to my own, but suggested that the term “ICT” confused not two but five concepts:
the National Curriculum Subject called “ICT” (itself a combination of many strands);
the use of generic information technologies (e.g. the internet, VLEs, office software) to support teaching and learning;
the use of specific technologies to support individual subjects (e.g. weather stations in Geography, MIDI instruments in Music);
the use of technologies to support teachers’ administrative processes, and the school’s management information systems;
the physical infrastructure of a school’s computer systems: the networks, printers and so on.
I can agree with the Royal Society that “ICT” confuses many different terms without necessarily agreeing that their five points represent the most helpful classification of the different concepts. Continue reading →