Sunday, 21 July 2013

Should ICT Teachers be Concerned for their Employability?

#ComputingHour Topic 6 - Thursday 18th July 2013
"Should I be concerned for my employability? My school is teaching Computing, I'm teaching ICT."
Topic suggested by @ammorris85

Short Answer
@eslweb and @DavidBatty agreed that the short answer to the question was "Yes". @jonbilton asked if this meant that ICT had a shelf life, particularly as a GCSE? @eslweb stated that it meant exactly that, and guessed that ICT may not exist in 3-5 years time.

@digitalmaverick thought that change had been handled poorly when he tweeted that "the way the Government has left ICT departments to fend for themselves is a disgrace." He thought that teachers needed to grasp the current opportunity to take ownership of the subject, otherwise politicians and lobby groups would do so.

Participants regretted that Computing had been allowed to change to ICT only. However, they agreed that it was now time for the subject to change back to what it should have been all along. The consensus was that such change means that teachers have to adapt if they are to remain employable. It was thought that the smartest ICT teachers have been retraining for some time anyway to ensure their skills stay current. @SharplesICT supported this when he made the point that change has been ongoing and that what we teach now bares no relation to what we first taught in IT. He added that the current changes are just bigger than normal. The important thing was for individuals to be prepared to learn new things and not to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone.

Duty of Care
@jonbilton made the point that Heads of Departments had a duty of care to their NQTs to ensure that they gained experience of teaching Computing, whether that be at KS3 or KS4. @eaglestone supported this but added that teachers in service should be supported in training too.

The importance of CPD was mentioned by a number of participants. @Jon_Torbitt pointed out that change was manageable because there was plenty of help and free resources available. @eslweb added that he thought Computing was a subject where lots of people were willing to undertake free CPD, be it a MOOC, free workshop or a whole course.

@SharplesICT thought that the problem with change was not a lack of any willingness on the part of teachers to implement it, but a lack of time and/or the cost of the inevitable CPD that was required. He added that free resources were great but some staff needed more direct support if they were to progress.
@jonbilton made point that CPD would have to be formalised - informal support, say, at the end of school day once a week would take up far too much Head of Department time. He added that perhaps the job descriptions of the traditional secondary Cross Curricular ICT Coordinator could be revised?  @eaglestone agreed and suggested that they adopt the role of Deputy CPD Coordinator, with ICT as a teaching & learning focus.

Optimism for the Future
@mm_2312 illustrated the current  sense of optimism for the future when he said "Can't wait to do more next year- my class loved coding this year!" @SharplesICT agreed that he was "extremely optimistic" for the future of the subject and for the prospects of teachers.  He added that if you were a success as an ICT Department there is nothing stopping you being a success as a Computer Science Department!

@eaglestone suggested that one way forward was for ICT/Computing was to adopt a similar curriculum model to many D&T departments, in that they often run a carousel where students move between food, resistant etc. If Computer Science adopted a similar system, teachers could play to their strengths both in KS3 and in the teaching of GCSE IT and Computing at KS4. In this way, there was still a role for ICT teachers.

Computing at School
Introduction to Python book by @mwclarkson
Python Workbook by @CodeBoom

Summary compiled by @jonbilton

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