Britain is renowned for its tech pioneers, from Alan Turing to Tim Berners-Lee. But, in recent years, poor performance in school ICT has seen our country slip down the global rankings.
In times gone by, Britain was at the forefront of the digital revolution, staking a claim in both the creation of the computer and the internet. For a number of years, though, school ICT lessons have been failing to produce the expected results, seeing the UK’s digital performance fall behind not only Japan and the US, but also other European countries, including Ireland.
Consequently, this has led to the Department of Education removing school ICT from the key stage 4 curriculum, replacing it instead with computer sciences. However, many experts aren’t convinced that erasing an important area of computing analysis is the answer the country is looking for and that, instead, we should be looking at more audio-visual solutions to the problem.
The Difference Between School ICT and Computer Science
There’s no doubt that computer science is a valuable subject. In fact, the concepts of coding and programming have been lost from the curriculum in recent years and this nascent subject gives schools the chance to reintroduce a much-needed skillset. Although no one would deny it its place in the syllabus, the government’s decision to scrap school ICT entirely could have other repercussions.
For one, computer science teaches children about how a computer functions, but not how to interpret and makes use of those functions. Children are now learning to code and debug simple software, but there is no longer such a strong emphasis on analysing and understanding computer data. Losing school ICT from the curriculum means that children are gaining the skills necessary to create and develop online tools, without learning how to use and manipulate them. Interestingly enough, the opposite was true four or five years ago and it seems we are simply unable to strike a balance between both school ICT and computer sciences.
Is It too Late to Save School ICT?
Despite the rise of computer sciences, school ICT has actually been attracting larger numbers of late. Nearly 13% more students took up the subject before it was dropped so unceremoniously by those high up, who claimed ICT was overlapping with the computer science syllabus. Many believe this excuse to be weak, especially since a large proportion of children hoping to pursue a career in ICT do not have the mindset to succeed in computer sciences.
For this reason, we must ask ourselves whether school ICT is, in fact, worth saving. Should we really be eradicating a subject that is not only crucial to our children’s education, but also proving popular amongst secondary school pupils? To scrap school ICT without a viable option to replace it definitely seems like a rash move. Instead, perhaps we should be looking at ways to improve and augment the learning process.
How Audio-Visual Solutions Can Update ICT Strategies
One slight on school ICT in recent years has been its inability to keep children engaged. Many young students find the subject matter tedious, which may have more to do with the way it’s presented than the ideas themselves. Yet, surely that can’t be a valid reason for dropping an entire sector of learning? School ICT simply needs to be reimagined and more audio-visual solutions could help do just that.
Through the use of interactive systems such as Clevertouch, teaching staff have the capacity to make school ICT a far more hands-on affair. Multi-user touch screens like Clevertouch enable children to work on audio-visual displays as a team, rather than being confined to a single laptop or computer. By combining multimedia and intuitive learning techniques, Clevertouch provides an incredible opportunity for children to collaborate and innovate on audio-visual projects, instead of simply scrolling through spreadsheets in order to input data streams.
The more interactive we can make ICT, the better equipped the next generation will be to use it. School ICT lessons are being scrapped because government ministers believe it is no longer crucial to modern learning, but this simply isn’t the case. Although the rise in computer sciences has seen more opportunities for children to master coding and programming, the tech industry is still in need of analysts to manipulate the data these programmes produce. Audio-visual solutions could be the best way to augment a subject that has been unfairly dismissed from the top down, helping us prevent the IT skills gap that is threatening to leave the current generation out of touch with the ever-developing tech industry.