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The aim of this assignment is to find out on how best ICT can be taught to pupils in secondary schools. The main focus is on whether ICT should be taught as 'the subject' or 'in subjects'. 'ICT as the subject' refers to the teaching of the National Curriculum for ICT as a discrete subject. 'ICT - in the subjects' refers to ICT being used as a teaching and learning tool in other subjects and that it being taught through those subjects, Hawkins and Simons (2009).
Before going into the detail of the focus of the assignment, I will briefly explain the background of teaching of ICT.
The term Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was introduced in the National Curricula of England and Wales (DfEE, 1999) to define sets of tools used to process and communicate information. Prior to the introduction of ICT, Information Technology (IT) was used to describe the same tools. IT referred to the use of information in order to meet human need or purpose, especially in the business world, (Kennewell, Parkinson and Tanner, 2007, p1).
Regardless of the terms used to describe the tools, the problems that arise in secondary schools are linked to developing in teachers, pupils and institutions the ability and inclination to use tools appropriately to control situations in which information is processed and communicated. Processing and communicating information lie at the heart of teaching and learning in secondary schools, and suggests that ICT capability should be central to effective secondary education, (Tanner, 2007).
In the past five years there has been a slow but steady improvement in pupils' achievements in ICT capability, the quality and standard of teaching, and the leadership and management of ICT. The complementary use of ICT across subjects, however, has been slow to develop and is uneven across schools and subjects. The effective balance between the teaching of ICT skills, knowledge and understanding on the one hand and the application of these as part of learning across subjects on the other hand remains a difficult and elusive goal for the majority of schools. (DfES, 2004).
According to Hawkins and Simmons, (2009), the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) made an extensive consultation and research prior to the publishing the new secondary National Curriculum (QCA, 2007). When they compared it to the previous National Curriculum Programme of Study for ICT (DfEE, 1999), they found that there are no major changes to content and concept taught. The national curriculum is structured around programmes of study for the subjects covered by the National curriculum. ICT has a discrete programme of study which clarifies what should be taught throughout the school years, including Key stages 3 and 4 for years 7 and 9 and years 10 and 11 respectively. During the National Curriculum review, the QCA made consultations of different stakeholders which included pupils, parents, teachers and employers. Their findings concluded that young people should become successful learners who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve. They should become confident individuals who are able to lead safe, healthy and fulfilling lives. They should also be citizens who make a positive contribution to society. (Waters, 2007, 2008).
To summarise the above, schools should teach the National Curriculum programme of study for ICT and give pupils opportunities to apply and develop ICT capability across the curriculum. Pupils' ICT capability can only be applied and developed in subjects if it has been taught effectively in the first place. The National Curriculum for ICT sets out the ICT capability that needs to be taught. The Key Stage 3 National Strategy gives detailed guidance, through the publication, the Framework for teaching ICT capability: Years 7, 8 and 9 (DfES 0321/2002), and sample teaching units, on how this may be achieved. It recommends that ICT be taught as a discrete subject so that the subsequent ICT capability can be applied and developed effectively in all subjects. If the ICT strand of the Key Stage 3 National Strategy has been implemented successfully then pupils will bring a sound level of ICT capability to other subject lessons. Pupils will not need to be taught the ICT but will be able to 'apply and develop' ICT to move learning in the other subjects forward. This will provide subject teachers with additional expectations and opportunities for teaching and learning in their subject.
Furthermore, there is a clear distinction between the use of ICT and teaching of ICT. Simply using ICT in a lesson does not necessarily provide learning opportunities for the underpinning concepts: it will not always build and develop capability. However, there are some people who argue that because ICT is used in other subjects and that it is being taught through those subjects. Normally this use helps to reinforce the learning which has already taken place in an ICT lesson rather than introducing new ICT concepts. Teachers of other subjects are, quite naturally, focussed on their subject area, not on ICT teaching. To clarify this more distinctly, we can consider the teaching of English as an example. English is spoken and listened to in every subject area, but the legitimacy of teaching English as a discrete subject is never called into question by any one. This therefore concludes that there are other concepts and processes which require a subject specialist and dedicated curriculum time to be explored. The same applies to ICT, (Hawkins and Simmons, 2009, p9).
In addition to the above, ICT capability involves technical and cognitive proficiency to access, use, develop, create and communicate information appropriately, using ICT tools. Learners demonstrate this capability by applying technology purposefully to solve problems, analyse and exchange information, develop ideas, create models and control devices. They are discriminating in their use of information and ICT tools, and systematic in reviewing and evaluating the contribution that ICT can make to their work as it progresses. ICT capability is much broader than acquiring a set of technical competencies in software applications, although clearly these are important. ICT capability involves the appropriate selection, use and evaluation of ICT. As a result, pupils need to know what ICT is available, when to use it and why it is appropriate for the task. For instance, when pupils are creating a presentation, they use their ICT capability to select appropriate software, consider fitness for purpose and match content and style to a given audience, manipulating data to test a hypothesis, or
incorporating sound and video into a presentation to add meaning and impact. It is important to reiterate that, whatever the level of ICT capability applied, it must add value to teaching and learning in the subject.
It is important that lessons are not driven by software or technology but are focused on clear objectives in the subject, where ICT is used as a vehicle to support achievement of those objectives and to enhance teaching and learning in all subjects. The implication for this therefore is the fact that pupils will come to subject lessons with expectations about how they might apply ICT to move their own learning forward. Subject teachers will not need to teach ICT capability but can exploit new opportunities for pupils to apply and develop the capability that they already have, to enhance their learning in subjects. Consequently, the focus of the lesson remains firmly rooted in the subject and teachers are not burdened with the need to teach ICT, (DfES, 2004).
In addition to the above, there are implications for subject teachers, in that they will need a good understanding of the breadth of ICT capability that pupils have been taught and will be bringing to their lesson. Teachers will also need to know which parts of ICT capability offer significant opportunities for teaching and learning in their own subject and how they can be incorporated into existing schemes of work.
Furthermore, the use of ICT needs to be purposeful and to add value to the teaching and learning of the subject and should not be seen simply as a bolt-on. It needs to be carefully integrated into the subject lessons, with a clear rationale for its use, (DfES, 2004).
This is supported by Kennewell et al. (2000, pp8-9), where he considers ICT as diverse in nature. He alleges that ICT may be viewed as Key skills, which like literacy and numeracy, underpins learning in a range of subject areas. He goes on to look at ICT as a Resource, which should be used by schools to support and extend the nature of teaching and learning across the curriculum. Kennewell also regards ICT as a discipline on its own like English, Mathematics, or Geography with its own characteristic forms of knowledge, skill and understanding.
To add on to the above, pupils' ability to apply their ICT capability across the curriculum is largely dependent on the effective teaching and learning of ICT in the first place. Pupils' use of ICT in other subjects may be ineffective if they do not already have an appropriate level and understanding of ICT capability. This may result in a lack of progress in both ICT and the subject area. For example, asking pupils to produce a presentation in a given subject will
be unproductive if they have little experience of using the software or understanding of
how to create meaning and impact for a given audience. Pupils who try to learn new areas
of ICT at the same time as new subject content will often fail in both endeavours.
In a nut shell, this means that before applying ICT in other subject, it is therefore crucial that pupils are taught the appropriate ICT capability, (DfES, 2002).
Although the need to teach ICT as a discrete subject has been over emphasised, there may be some opportunities for aspects of ICT capability to be taught in a different subject area and then also applied in an appropriate context. For instance, the control elements of the National
Curriculum for ICT could be taught within Design and Technology. However, teaching
subject objectives and ICT objectives at the same time can be problematic and teachers
should be aware of the potential for the lesson to lose sight of the ICT objectives. Progress
in the teaching and learning of a particular subject can also be disrupted by the time taken
to teach the required ICT component from scratch.
Furthermore, an effective implementation of ICT across the curriculum is much more complex and involves strategic management and coordination within whole school policies.
For an effective model of applying and developing ICT across the curriculum, there should be an effective teaching of the National Curriculum programme of study for ICT as a discrete subject. There should also be appropriate opportunities for pupils to apply and develop ICT capability in a range of subjects and contexts, that is, transferable knowledge, skills and understanding. Another factor could be the deployment of resources so that subject areas can access ICT when it is needed, including provision of ICT within subject classrooms or areas. In this case, there should be a policy for purchasing of resources that maximises their use and allows for flexibility of use, for example, whole-class teaching, small-group work, individual teacher use; this could include consideration of whole-school networking provision, laptops and wireless networking capability. There could also be appropriate subject-specific resources in all departments, which are selected on the basis of fulfilling subject learning objectives. This should include planned use of ICT in schemes of work for all subjects, so that resources can be appropriately deployed and organised. The whole-school policies which clearly map and sequence opportunities for application and development of ICT, so that pupils bring the appropriate ICT capability to subject lessons should also be drawn. This as a result will lead to whole-staff awareness of ICT capability and what can reasonably be expected of pupils in each year, (DfES, 2005a).
Many schools continue to cling to a belief that cross-curricular provision can deliver good progression in ICT capability, in spite of inspection evidence to the contrary over recent years. The weight of evidence suggests that what works best is a balance between discrete provision and the application of ICT capability across other subjects, (Ofsted, 2005).
So far the use of ICT has been reviewed as a learning tool for pupils and has been acknowledged that pupils who are confident and proficient in ICT can bring with them opportunities for extending their learning as they use their ICT in other subjects in the
school curriculum. Use of ICT by a teacher may involve little or no use of ICT by pupils and, consequently may do little to apply and develop their ICT capability. However, use of ICT by the teacher can enhance and stimulate the learning experiences of pupils and contribute to the
achievement of subject objectives. It is important to recognise the different contributions that ICT can make to teaching and learning and acknowledge the importance of each. A policy for ICT across the curriculum should consider all these elements and the relationships between them, (DfES , 2004).
Having mentioned all the above, I am now going to focus on discussing on how the knowledge of ICT capabilities can help facilitate teaching and learning in different secondary school subjects. Firstly, I am going to look at how the use of ICT can raise standards in History.
There will be a need for effective communication between the history and ICT departments in order to foster a clear understanding of the timescale during which pupils should have developed the different ICT capability in each year. History teachers will need to identify opportunities to exploit pupils' ICT capability to move learning in the subject forward. They will also need to consider whether the use of ICT is appropriate to the aspect of history being taught.
Information is the raw material of history. It will therefore be important that pupils are critical in its use and understand the relevance to an enquiry of particular sources of information. Use of ICT allows pupils to access and engage with an enormous range of information sources as a basis for independent historical enquiries. For instance, pupils in Year 9 were investigating the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, seeking to answer the question, 'Should the atomic bomb have been dropped?' They visited websites containing images and text that suggested that it was wrong to drop the bomb. They also visited sites that showed that the American Government was wise to drop the bomb as it saved many lives and ended Japanese involvement in the war. They had to use these sites to select evidence to help them answer the question.
Further more, in ICT, pupils are taught to evaluate their work critically, to develop and improve their presentation of information, to refine it for purpose and audience. For instance, pupils may use digital video to create an advertisement for overseas visitors to an historic building in their locality. They may refine their work further by devising criteria drawn from an analysis of existing TV advertisements, during the process of which they identify the common forms and conventions. A practical example could be pupils in Year 7 used a word processing program to draft an essay, some using a writing frame, to answer a question about the murder of Thomas Becket. When they finished, the teacher provided them with additional information that altered the argument they needed to make, requiring them to redraft their original work to take account of this.
In addition to the above, lessons may be provided in a CD-ROM. These may include examples of history lessons in which ICT is used to enhance teaching and learning. These may be chosen to give a flavour of the type of activities in which pupils' ICT capability can be applied and developed within the context of history. In each of the examples, reference is made to the ICT key concept being applied or developed. In each case, the relevant ICT objectives have been taught before they are applied in the history lesson.
Another subject that I am going to look at how it embeds ICT as learning and teaching tool is Citizenship. In Citizenship, ICT can be used to facilitate pupils to use information sources like websites to critically enable them to establish balanced, informed judgements in reaching conclusions about communities and societies. The critical examination of information is a key component of the study of citizenship. This includes an emphasis on identifying biased viewpoints and related persuasive arguments. The quantity of information available on the Internet gives pupils opportunities to evaluate both the information they receive and the websites themselves. The use of data and information sources through ICT can help them to develop and improve these skills. For instance, pupils in Year 8 used the Internet to research the views of various groups campaigning to reform the youth justice system, as part of the work they were doing on crime. They were able to identify a range of different views and to evaluate and discuss them. They were also able to identify information that they thought was misleading, which led to a discussion about the need to be critical of the sources of information themselves. (DfES , 2004, p17).
To add to the above, for the best and effective utilization of ICT in citizenship, teachers should plan the use of ICT by pupils in collaboration with the ICT department. Effective communication between the two departments will instil a clear understanding of the timescale during which pupils should have developed the different ICT capability in each year. This will ensure that pupils are equipped with appropriate ICT skills and will help teachers analyse how to build on prior learning in citizenship and ICT. This awareness will facilitate the planning of schemes of work and design of lessons. This could also be helpful to ensure that ICT resources are available for the respective lessons.
Mathematics subject teachers can also use pupils' knowledge of ICT. It is important for mathematics teachers to liaise with the ICT department to ensure that the levels of expectation and challenge are appropriate to pupils' experiences and levels of ICT capability. In order to guarantee the effective use of ICT in mathematics, Mathematics teachers should be sure that ICT resources are available for the lesson. They should also be able to analyse how to build on prior learning in mathematics and ICT to inform planning of schemes of work and design of lessons.
Furthermore, ICT can be used to give access to large quantities of data and provides the tools to represent it in a variety of ways. The ICT key concept of using data and information sources relates to the strand of handlings data in mathematics in which pupils specify a problem, plan and collect data. Also, the use of ICT allows pupils to sort and represent data efficiently and effectively. It enables them to solve mathematical problems and use statistical investigations using their own data as well as that collected by others.
In addition, using ICT allows pupils to use automated processes to increase efficiency and to create simple software routines to aid the exploration of a mathematical situation. They can
undertake deeper and more effective analysis of the mathematics, using ICT. For example, pupils in Year 9 may choose to create macros in spreadsheets or may use other automating functions, including nesting procedures in LOGO, to explore a range of mathematical situations. Use of LOGO can be beneficial to pupils in each year of the key stage, especially as it is easily accessible and combines aspects of geometrical reasoning with using and applying mathematics to solve problems. (DfES, 2004, p20).
ICT can be used as a tool to raise standards in the teaching and learning of English in secondary schools. It can be used to support teachers to improve lesson design and transform teaching and learning. English teachers can also use ICT to engage and motivate pupils to learn more effectively. Effective communication between English and ICT departments will be essential to bring about a clear understanding of the timescale during which pupils will have developed the different ICT capability in each year. Teachers of English subject need to identify opportunities to exploit and utilize pupils' capability in ICT to move learning in the subject forward. They also need to consider whether the use of ICT is appropriate to the aspect of English being taught.
English can involve searching for and selection of information, which is made easier by the use of ICT. Through establishing good liaison with ICT departments, English departments may find that English and ICT lessons and homework may be planned cooperatively so that pupils use and consolidate the appropriate search skills and techniques. More time in English lessons can then be spent on learning strategies for selection and analysis.
As an example, in a Year 8 lesson, pupils focused on accessing a range of websites on a given topic, and then collaboratively devising means of selecting those needed to answer particular different questions on that topic. The questions were divided into those requiring information, persuasion, argument, different views and different audiences. Pupils worked in small groups to select key sites for different purposes. This was part of a sequence of lessons that eventually required pupils to use the websites selectively to support an extended piece of writing on an aspect of the topic.
Still on the same note, Year 9 pupils searched the Internet for images based on Macbeth. The focus was on selecting images that were central to the themes of the play. Pupils worked in
groups to select, save and print these images, annotate them in relation to the play and provide key quotes to accompany the theme and image. This involved one lesson and a homework. In the next lesson, the pupils shared their findings with the rest of the class. This was part of a sequence of lessons in which the pupils were later required to write about key themes in the play and provide evidence from the text.
Having mentioned all the above, it is quite evident that ICT equips pupils with skills to help them to participate in a rapidly changing world in which work and other activities are increasingly transformed by access to varied and developing technology. Pupils may need to use ICT tools to find, explore, analyse, exchange and present information responsibly, creatively and with discrimination. They should learn how to employ ICT to enable rapid access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures. Increased capability in the use of ICT can promote 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 home and work both now and in the future.
(eduwight website, accesses 01/12/10)
Furthermore, ICT has enabled gifted and talented pupils and those of higher ability to extend their activities and study in more depth. It has also enabled pupils with English as an additional language and those with special educational needs to readily access learning where, for example, the act of physically writing had previously acted as a barrier.
Also, the use of the display technologies enables pupils to visualise material that would be more difficult to access in traditional formats, and is perceived to have 'opened up the world'.
For example, the use of a video clips repository has supported demonstrating gases in science and movement in design and technology. Supported with teacher explanation, it is believed that the focus on moving images has really enhanced learning. In addition the video clips repository offers clips of news items in children-friendly formats. (Lewin et al: 2007, p20).
In conclusion, it is clear and evident that there is a mutual and supportive link between the discrete teaching of ICT and the application of ICT in other subjects. This means that, therefore, pupils should be given opportunities across the curriculum to apply and develop the ICT capability taught in ICT lessons. These opportunities should be consistent across all classes, not dependent on the particular member of staff. Also, ensuring that pupils are building on the ICT capability that has already been taught has implications for scheduling schemes of work, both for the subject areas and for ICT. This is a complex exercise, involving all departments, and needs a whole-school approach and leadership to ensure maximum effectiveness. Some schools have set up ICT across the curriculum working groups to ensure that there is ongoing dialogue between subject leaders, the ICT subject leader and the ICT coordinator in the school. Monitoring the effectiveness of such a policy is a key role for the senior leader with responsibility for ICT and will include a review of teachers' understanding of what is meant by ICT capability in the ICT National Curriculum;