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Make IT Better: CompTIA director warns "isolated" ICT teachers can cause poor IT learning

19 Dec 2012

CompTIA director of certification Rich Bauer

Too many children are getting inadequate technology education because their school studies fail to teach them how the subject can be applied, argues CompTIA course director Rick Bauer.

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.

CompTIA is the world's largest provider of vendor-neutral IT certifications, with 100 offices globally. Bauer is responsible for directing the design for some of these courses, which are all designed to get people jobs in the IT sector.

"In many schools, I've noticed that students take a year to learn about PowerPoint, which is one of the [most] mind numbing activities for both students and teachers. Such learning shows respect to neither," says Bauer.

"I don't know why schools teach spreadsheets without teaching students about how they can be used for calculations in higher maths, or data collection in biology."

Bauer said too often he sees ICT teachers become "isolated" in schools.

"Sometimes schools have a lot of focus on STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and maths] but the teachers are all focussed in their separate towers. Many teachers who teach maths and science never get comfortable teaching technology in their teaching. And then the computer science teachers teach apps that have no application to the other STEM subjects."

"So the subject of ICT begins to look tedious and unrelated to all the exciting things students are learning about in other subjects. It's the equivalent of turning wine into water, and given the amount of investment the government is putting into the tech industry, it's a great shame."

Bauer was speaking to V3 as part of our Make IT Better campaign, which calls on the government to make the ICT curriculum process more transparent.

The government is currently in the process of overhauling the ICT curriculum to make it more relevant to students.

In September, the government asked the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) to devise a first draft of the new curriculum, with the help of other stakeholders. This draft of the curriculum is now completed and is in the hands of the DFE.

The problem is that the government has not widely consulted with teachers, education advisors or IT professionals in its reforms. The V3 campaign has included a series of articles to make the views of such professionals heard.

Bauer has 20 years of experience in the IT industry, spending much of this time working with school IT departments, holding the position of chief information officer in a number of schools and universities.

Prior to joining CompTIA, Bauer was CIO at a Philadelphia school that was the first in the US to supply every student with a laptop computer. He has also acted as a consultant to many schools around the world, helping them integrate IT into their general curriculum.

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