This year in ICT I have led a couple of projects that have involved the children looking at the history of ICT. In Year 6 the children looked at the development of games consoles to get an understanding of how things such as RAM and processing speed have increased. They then used this to design their games console of the future.
In Year 7 we are currently working on a project based on Tom Standage’s book “The Victorian Internet” which is all about the development of the electrical telegraph. The book argues that this was a far more significant invention that the Internet we use today. The children will be researching the work of people such as Claude Chappe, Charles Wheatstone and Samuel Morse in order to script and record a five minute radio documentary.
In Year 8 the children are currently working on an ICT Almanac Wiki in which they will be researching events that occurred in the history of Information Communication Technology and then adding them to the wiki.
As I say to the children I think it is important that they have an understanding of how the technology has developed and the impact this has had on society so that they can then look forward and consider how the technology may develop in the future. I recently read this blog post that also argued that “with schools failing to get the next generation excited about computers lessons need to revisit how the information age got started”.
On a forthcoming trip to Bletchley Park with Year 8 we will also be visiting the National Museum of Computing and I want the children to get from this trip an understanding of how the code-breaking efforts during the war led to the development of Colossus and then follow the development of the computer all the way up to the present day.
So, is it important that children recognise the names of Babbage and Turing or know that computers used to weigh several tonnes and take up entire rooms or should we just look at what technology is available to them now?