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Make IT Better increases industry awareness of government’s ICT curriculum reforms

18 Jan 2013

MAKE IT BETTER logoV3 launched its Make IT Better campaign in October 2012 to increase awareness around the government's reform of the ICT curriculum in schools.

The campaign, launched in partnership with the Corporate IT Forum, is focussed on improving ICT education in schools in order to fix the growing skills crisis facing the IT industry.

Make IT Better has already run a weekly series of interviews from IT professionals and ICT teachers on the contents they would like to see included in the new ICT curriculum, giving them a chance to have their voices heard.

V3 believes it is important for a wide variety of views to be considered at length before the government launches a new programme of study to schools. This will ensure the new ICT curriculum is relevant and compelling to students and teachers.

Make IT Better has heard from Microsoft education director Steve Beswick on how a Microsoft Office education can be made more stimulating, and Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton on his belief that every child in the UK should be given the opportunity to learn how to code.

Others who have spoken to V3 include SAS UK head of academic programmes Geoffrey Taylor, CA Technologies chief technology officer Colin Bannister and Comptia director Rick Bauer. A summary of each Make IT Better interview is given at the end of this blog post.

"The Corporate IT Forum Education & Skills Commission fully supports V3's 'Make IT Better' campaign. It is doing a great job of promoting excellence in IT education and keeping the important issue of ICT curriculum reforms at the forefront of V3 readers' minds," said Joanna Poplawska, performance director at The Corporate IT Forum.

"We are all agreed that a range of people need to have input into the new curriculum, including IT-dependent employers, to ensure that the next-generation workforce is equipped with the right technology skills to boost British business."

It was January last year when the government announced it would be reforming the ICT curriculum in schools, with a new programme of study set to be launched to schools in September 2014.

At the moment the DfE is working on a draft version of the new ICT curriculum, having had strong input from the British Computer Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. However the DfE has not widely consulted with teachers, education advisors or IT professionals in its reforms.

A national consultation on the curriculum will occur at some point this year, but many fear this consultation will be too late since the draft revised curriculum is now already in place.

The Make IT Better campaign has issued repeated calls to the Department for Education to make the ICT curriculum process more transparent and to include the views of the IT industry immediately. However the DfE has declined to comment on the campaign or acknowledge that its reform of the ICT curriculum is leaving out certain IT associations, teachers and education advisors.

A spokesman for the DfE told V3, "We have been working with the British Computer Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering who organised an expert group to develop proposals for the draft ICT curriculum.

"The department is using this advice to develop revised programmes of study for the subject which we will be publishing soon for public consultation."

Make IT Better articles so far include:

V3 launches skills campaign to boost IT teaching across UK24 October 2012
The Make IT Better campaign is designed to achieve excellence in IT education across the UK, and equip the next-generation workforce with the right technology skills to boost British business.

ICT teacher Ilia AvroutineTeacher Ilia Avroutine wants pupils skilled in HTML design and Photoshop, 31 October 2012   
Avroutine  fully supports the government's decision to reform the ICT curriculum and hopes teachers will soon be asked their views on what content should be included in the new version. Avroutine discusses ways he believes students can be inspired in their ICT studies and mentions particular skills, like coding and programming, he believes ICT students should be taught.

ICT teacher Jane WaiteTeacher Jane Waite on the need to create future IT heroes like Tim Berners-Lee7 November 2012
Waite comments on what kind of ICT reform is needed for Key Stage 1 pupils, aged between five and seven years old. She believes "computational thinking" forms the backbone of computer science teaching, and this should be taught to children in reception class onwards. Waite discusses particular methods her school is trialling to make ICT more valuable to younger students.

ICT teacher David AstallTeacher David Astall on why pupils must be taught to think outside the box14 November 2012
Astall questions whether the government's current ICT curriculum reform will produce positive change when only a few education bodies have so far been sought for input, and is concerned that those inputting in the reform process hold a Computer Science bias. Astall believes both the disciplines of IT and Computer Science need to hold equal weight in the national curriculum. The IT component just needs to be improved so areas deemed boring and repetitive, such as word processing and desktop publishing are improved, not tossed to the dustbin.

Microsoft Education Director Steve BeswickIT teaching problems run deeper than Word and Excel, claims Microsoft22 November 2012
Microsoft education director Steve Beswick talks about the tools and techniques that can be used to interest school children in a computer science education, and how a Microsoft Office education can be made more stimulating.

ICT education advisor Roger Broadie Education advisor Roger Broadie worried Teachers' voice getting lost in ICT reform debate28 November 2012
Education advisor and former teacher Roger Broadie believes the views of industry have been given priority in the current ICT curriculum reforms. He also shares concerns that there is a bias among reformers toward the discipline of Computer Science at the expense of more technical IT learning, like that of infrastructure support and development.

raspberry-pi-foundation-executive-director-eben-uptonEvery pupil should have the chance to code, says Raspberry Pi creator7 December 2012                                           
Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton believes every child in the UK should be given the opportunity to learn how to code, as part of their school ICT education.

 

Capital One IT director Ian RavenhallPupils need schooling in analytics and mobile, says Capital One IT director, 12 December 2012
Ian Ravenhall argues the reform of the ICT curriculum is the industry's chance to fix the lack of IT skills available to firms. This can be done by ensuring the new ICT curriculum is broad and flexible in its focus, allowing teachers to concentrate on hot new industry trends, like mobile and analytics. While there have been many discussions on the content of the new ICT curriculum, Ravenhall says these have often been too focussed on use of particular applications.

CompTIA director of certification Rich Bauer CompTIA director warns "isolated" ICT teachers can cause poor IT learning27 December 2012
CompTIA director Rick Bauer says too many children are getting inadequate technology education because their school studies fail to teach them how the subject can be applied. Bauer is convinced the poor state of UK ICT school education is down to a lack of integration with the rest of school education, and this is a problem that is occurring in the US as well.

CA Technologies' Colin BannisterBCS and E-skills advise government on IT education for GCSE students4 January 2013
Colin Bannister, an E-skills member and the chief technology officer for CA Technologies, tells of a recent meeting he attended where the Key Stage 4 part of the curriculum was discussed. Department ministers, the BCS and E-skills members attended the meeting. Bannister says he hopes tech firms, including CA Technologies, will be able to influence Key Stage 4 of the curriculum as much as possible in order to address the growing skills crisis facing the industry.

SAS UK head of academic grogrammes Geoffrey TaylorSAS calls for IT teachers to brush up on History and Geography skills9 January 2013
According to SAS UK head of academic programmes, Geoffrey Taylor, IT lessons in schools can be greatly improved if ICT teachers extend the studies to other subjects.

 

OCR Qualifications Manager Philip BryantExam body warns disadvantaged pupils face exclusion from IT16 January 2013
OCR executives speak to V3 about the importance of designing qualifications that appeal to pupils from a range of social economic backgrounds.

Facebook beats books for memorable musings

18 Jan 2013

People memorise Facebook posts one and a half times better than they remember a books text, according to a new university study.

The findings come following an extensive study on human memory from the University of San Diego and the University of Warwick. Research from the two school's study was recently published in the Springer Journal Memory and Cognition.

"We were really surprised when we saw just how much stronger memory for Facebook posts was compared to other types of stimuli," said Laura Mickes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick.

"These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory."

According to the study, the huge gap in memory cognition comes from the fact that books are much more mentally intensive and isolating. The study reported that because Facebook posts comes from people you know and are short they are easier to remember.

Because people share rewards and news of potential threats with each other it makes sense that you'd remember a Facebook post, at least from an evolutionary standpoint.

"Facebook is updated roughly 30 million times an hour so it's easy to dismiss it as full of mundane, trivial bits of information that we will instantly forget as soon as we read them," continued Mickes.

"But our study turns that view on its head, and by doing so gives us a really useful glimpse into the kinds of information we're hardwired to remember.

If nothing else, the new information should peak marketers interest. Knowing people are more adept at remembering Facebook posts means sponsored stories ads may actually be valuable.

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