This assignment will establish an understanding of the notion of ICT capability as expressed in the National Curriculum, literature, and the Rose review. (DfEE, 1999, DCSF, 2009) It will also provide clear examples of ways in which ICT capability can be developed within the primary classroom and finally critically evaluate the impact of new technologies (visual media) on learning and teaching within the primary class.
An early explanation of what "ICT capability" actually is would be a useful start to this assignment and will allow the essay to progress into looking at its relationship with the National Curriculum and children's learning more broadly.
The word capability is about an understanding of the purpose and fitness of a task; a confidence and competence to undertake an activity; an ability to evaluate and reflect upon a situation and be open to further developments. In relation to ICT specifically it is more than just understanding the features of ICT that support an activity, but also of the ways in which working and knowledge within subject contexts can be enhanced (Sharp et al, 2002).
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The National Curriculum and the Rose review (DCSF, 2009) define ICT capability for children in the wider context of children's learning, and also as an aid to a certain type of learning, which will be discussed later;
"Pupils use ICT to find, explore, analyse, exchange and present information responsibly, creatively and with discrimination. They learn how to employ ICT to enable rapid access to ideas and experiencesâ€¦ Increased capability in the use of ICT promotes initiative and independent learning, with pupils being able to make informed judgements about when and where to use ICT to best effect and to consider its implications for work. (DfEE 1999, p.96)
What this shows ICT capability not to be, is the learning of specific techniques or skills related to specific programmes which will soon be made redundant in a forever changing world, as stated by Sharp et al in the title of this assignment (2002). The ICT curriculum is broader than that. It is relatively timeless because it encourages children to become ICT capable (Ager, 2003). Children can apply understanding and show competence to the general processes of dealing with information (Leask & Meadows, 2000). Children through the ICT curriculum can develop and apply understanding, not only of how ICT can assist them in their work but also of the ways in which it affects the nature of the work (Kennewell et al, 2000). To have a future of children who are "capable" means they will have power and fitness for a task, they will be qualified and able, they will also be open, or indeed, susceptible to their own development. (Loveless, 2003)
It is important, therefore, for teachers to have the knowledge, skills and understanding of the ways in which ICT can support learning and understand when it is right and when it is wrong to use ICT effectively in their teaching of not only ICT but other subjects as well (Sharp et al, 2002). This includes teachers gaining an understanding of when to allow children to make connections between familiar knowledge and new knowledge and urge them to develop confidence and autonomy in learning through the use of ICT. (Loveless, 2003) They must also be aware of the experiences the children have outside the classroom that contribute to, or constrain the quality of their learning and development through ICT. (Loveless, 2003)
Many children, for example, might arrive at school with an ease and familiarity with ICT and a confident and curious approach to new technology and the skills required to help them explore (Loveless & Totraku, 2007). What they need from a teacher is support in developing these skills in order to use all the information available to them creatively and effectively rather than repeating a practice of familiar skills and techniques. (Loveless, 2003)
It would be helpful to this assignment to ascertain what the ICT curriculum specifically enables children to learn and develop. The framework for the knowledge, skills and understanding of ICT (DfEE, 1999, Twining, 2002), and this is presented in four aspects;
Finding things out
- Developing ideas
- Making things happen
- Exchanging and sharing information
- Reviewing, modifying and evaluating information
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
- Collect, organise, store, retrieve, analyse and present information
- Develop critical interpretation, looking for accuracy, validity and reliability of sources.
Developing ideas and making things happen
- Refining ideas
- Create, test, improve, and refine information
- Discover patterns and relationships in information
- Measure and record information
Exchanging and sharing information
- Develop a sense of audience
- Appropriately present
- Raise interesting questions
Reviewing, modifying and evaluating work as it progresses
- Evaluate their own and others' sources
- Develop a critical and analytical approach to the social, economic, political, legal, ethical and moral issues in ICT. (DfEE, 1999 p.96-101)
Kemmis et al (1977) developed a model that can be closely associated with the attainments required in the National Curriculum. These are the following;
Revelatory (where children try to discover the variables and rules by trial and error and feedback)
Conjectural (encouraging exploration and manipulation and testing of ideas and hypotheses.)
Emancipatory (reducing the work load of the pupil to allow more time for productive analysis, interpretation and presentation of information).
What this shows is that these attainments should be encouraged to answer the following types of question in relation to children's ICT capabilities; am I using ICT as a tool? Am I using ICT to learn something more about a particular subject or topic? Am I using ICT as a catalyst to help me think? (Loveless, 2003).
If we allow children to think in such a way in ICT it can be of huge benefit to other areas of learning (McFarlane, 1997). The purpose of the above activities is that they can be carried out right across the curriculum, as advocated by Rose (DfEE, 2009). The following can show how the skills learnt in ICT have the potential not only to support the current curriculum and a range of cognitive development (Somekh & Davis, 1997), but also to enhance the experience and understanding of the whole curriculum, and even extend thinking, learning and emotional development in new ways (Potter & Darbyshire, 2005). Some examples of how ICT can do this effectively are seen below;
Information processing and handling skills
Knowledge and understanding
Extend children's thinking abilities, models like "what would happen ifâ€¦?"
Encourage children to try different possibilities, and manipulation of findings
Consequences to decisions and actions and editing
Create and composing
Promotes active, social learning and experimentation that involves communication, interaction, negotiation and sharing as advocated as a framework to learning by Vygotsky.
Initiative and independence
Encourages children to explain and justify
Knowing when to apply or develop a skill through ICT to exploit or extend a task/learning.
(Lachs, 2000, Loveless, 2003, Leask & Meadows, 2000, MacDonald et al, 1997 Twining, 2002)
ICT can enhance cognitive learning, and develop problem-solving and higher level thinking skills. (Leask & Meadows, 2000) ICT also affects the experience of children at a practical and social level. Indeed, the social and cultural contexts in which ICT resources are perceived and used by teachers are key influences in the development of a range of personal and professional practices (Loveless, 2003). Evidence of such learning could be seen throughout the group "film making" task carried out during the EI219 module. The ICT curriculum also promotes initiative and independence in learning (MacDonald et al, 1997). Pupils can make informed judgements about when and where to use ICT to the best effect (DfEE, 1999, Rose, 2009), again, this was a skill carried out during the EI219 Module.
It is also vital, however, for a teacher to be "technologically literate" and also to be able to understand the cultural nature of technology and the ways in which it influences what children can do in school, this includes good curriculum knowledge (Loveless & Dore, 2002). Teachers also need an understanding of how to get children to show evidence of that and understand the educational potential of ICT in learning through pedagogical knowledge (Loveless & Ellis, 2001).
I have some critical reflection on two aspects, one is how I developed ICT capability in my classroom while on placement, and the other is how the impact of using the following technology (visual media) could have influenced my teaching in a more advanced way.
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This new technology was the use of digital visual media to encourage children to learn skills through visual literacy.
This was a full term programme undertaken at my school while on placement using BFI's "Starting Stories" (2004) (Appendix 1). It provided me with an insight into how media education can provide important dimensions for the use of technology in subjects other than ICT itself (Scrimshaw, 1993, Gamble & Easingwood, 2000, Evans, 2004). During the lessons on visual media literacy children showed evidence of applying and extending existing conceptual approaches to these new "objects" of study, or Short Stories (Appendix 1,2), they also addressed the creative possibilities of digital technologies by using media as a muse for their artwork during that term (Hammill, 2006).
This encouraged children to understand that technology could convey language in a visual, verbal and active way. The language, grammar and use of film as a communication technology can be summarised by focusing on the six main elements that work together to "make a film work." These are commonly known as "C's and S's". (BFI, 2004 p.14)
However, knowing retrospectively what this module has taught me, I now feel we could have used this opportunity for visual media to help aid children's ICT capability further. Umberto Eco once argued, "if you want to use television to teach somebody, you first had to teach them how to use television" (Buckingham, 2007a p. 111). As with all art forms and forms of communication technology, film has its own rules and language used to describe form, content and concept, this is something that could have been exploited as valuable learning for the children with both regard to literacy and the nature of ICT capability.
I unfortunately regarded the use of this visual media at the time merely as a teaching aid or tool for learning. However, Buckingham (2007a, p.112) argues that "education about media should be seen as an indispensable prerequisite for education with or through the media." Children showed that they could critique the media they watched as part of the literacy lessons. However, the children saw it merely in a functional or instrumental way (Buckingham, 2007b). Effective ICT capability would have both allowed the children to critique the existing media and also allowed them to manipulate it and use it as a stepping stone for "hands on" creative production all of their own (Buckingham, 2003, Scrimshaw, 1993, Evans, 2004).
With regard to what could have been achieved through the children using this literacy learning as a tool for creating their own literacy through ICT, the subsequent worthwhile learning could have been accomplished, and really shows the nature of how one subject can influence skills in another, and vice versa.
Producing and critiquing their own and the existing visual media in collaboration could have achieved the following attainments related to the National Curriculum;
ICT, KS1, 1a,b,c 2a,b,c,d 3a,b 4a,b,c 5a,b
English KS1 Sp&List 1c,d,e,f 2a,b,c,d,e 3a,b,c,d,e 4a,b,c 6a,b 8a,c,d 9c, 10a,b,c 10b,c
Reading 1l,m,n 3a,b,c,d,f
Writing 1a,b,c,d,e,f 2b,c 9a,b,c,d 12
It was this kind of learning which took place during the ICT module lessons where we learnt how digital editing and the moving image could help aid not only the ICT curriculum but also, as discussed above, develop other aspects of the curriculum and the emotional development of the children (BFI, 2003, Sefton-Green, 1999). If what had been done in the ICT module with regard to digital editing, had been done during my placement, the children really could have benefited from a deeper understanding of what it takes to produce digital literacy (Andrews, 2004). Not only would they have engaged in a context which would have aided natural ICT capability (Marsh, 2004), but they would have also learnt through the process of production of their own visual media and could have transferred these skills into their literacy learning (Kress, 2003).
In conclusion to this module I understand the importance behind asking myself what is this thing called "ICT capability"? How can I approach the development of this capability across the curriculum? I now understand it to suggest that I need the confidence in all types of technology available and to know how to use them, but also why and when to use them, and the same has be said of children (Loveless, 2003).