One of the arguments, or rather discussions, about ICT has been whether it is a subject in its own right or just a tool for learning in all subjects. I believe it is both and perhaps there needs to be greater distinction between the two. For example, lesson plans tend to have a section on how you are incorporating ICT. When I was undergoing my teacher training every lesson plan had to have reference to how ICT would be used and now with inspection looming at my current school everyone is having to think about how ICT could be used in their lessons. Maybe this could be referred to as Learning Technologies or similar and perhaps just be covered in the resources section of a lesson plan. Having a dedicated box for ICT in a lesson plan suggests that it needs to be forced in even if the lesson would work perfectly well without. How many people simply put “take photos using the digital camera” in that box?
It has been suggested that the name ICT could change – Digital Studies is one suggestion – in order to make it clearer to children what the subject is. Is ICT too vague a name? Is Digital Studies actually any better? I often have to remind children that the C in ICT does not stand for computers and I tend to describe it as ‘technology that allows us to communicate information’.
I definitely think that technology has a place within all subjects and can be used to enhance the learning and engage the children across the curriculum. Some things that have been traditionally part of the ICT curriculum can be covered easily in other subjects such as the use of spreadsheets in maths or science and blogging in literacy. After all blogging is simply writing using a different medium. Maybe referring to tools such as cameras and microphones or application such as Google Earth as Learning Technologies will enable them to be embedded across the curriculum without teachers thinking they have to be an ICT expert and without causing too much stress for the ICT co-ordinator when an inspection comes round.
Dedicated ICT lessons could then be used to focus on the skills needed to use these tools effectively as well as other elements of Computer Science such as programming and understanding how a computer works. I think it is important that children understand how the digital tools that they are surrounded with work and that they are given opportunities to have a go at programming and building a PC etc, and then be given the encouragement and support to carry on learning for themselves.
I am slightly concerned that people might decide that their ICT curriculum now must include programming, games design etc and forget about other things. What I want to achieve with the #RethinkingICT movement is a balanced curriculum that gives children opportunities and will enhance their learning across all subject areas and to enable them to be independent learners.