Teaching ICT is back in the spotlight again as the latest thoughts on the next ICT curriculum have been released by the DfE. As a company that not only resells but also develops learning software, we’re huge advocates of the use of technology to learn and the learning of technology.
So the decision to review and evaluate the merits of the existing curriculum in the current digital age is very welcome. The fundamental question in evaluating the new proposals should be therefore, how will it equip the next generation of digital natives?
There is a huge clamour for the promotion of computer science within the curriculum. This is not surprising. Software is becoming more and more ubiquitous in our daily lives. The recent demise of high street retailers is just further proof that, to paraphrase Marc Andreesen, “software is eating the world”. It makes absolute sense therefore, that we should be equipping our children to be at the forefront of this wave. Indeed one of the sectors in which the government has highlighted as an area for potential world leadership is in the realm of games development.
Indeed in a way, the education curriculum is already behind the curve here. One of the most encouraging developments we’ve seen over the past few years is the emergence of coding clubs all over the globe. These clubs, started by private individuals, are tapping into the latent talent and interest of young kids and enabling them to create and get involved in something special. Larger corporations are also in no doubt about the importance of coding for our kids. Microsoft in the UK, for example, is currently running the Koda Kup, a game creation competition for UK school-children aged between 7 and 14.
So let’s invest in coding then? Yes, let’s. However there is a wider viewpoint here as well. ICT skills are not just coding. As software “eats the world”, it’s not just coders that are required. Software is now used to understand, analyse, communicate and organise. Coding won’t teach the wider skills that are required to imagine, manage and integrate the new technologies of the future. That’s the reason we tend to agree with Naace on this one. Naace is the ICT association, a community of educators, technologists and policy makers who share a vision for the role of technology in advancing education. They are looking for a broader approach to teaching ICT. Just like previous courses should not have been all about desktop applications only, future courses should not just be about coding. Technology is too ingrained in our futures for us to take a narrow approach.