Computing as Part of the School Curriculum or an Extra-Curricular Activity? (Part 2 of 3)

Curriculum overload is an issue in Ireland. Our education system is pressured to integrate numerous subjects in already tight schedules and our teachers have to rapidly adapt to the changing needs.

The course also outlines considerations for planning an ICT-enhanced lesson. Helps teachers to understand safety, security and well-being considerations when using ICT in education.

In this context, offering a new subject as an after-school activity seems like an attractive idea, especially since numerous volunteer-based activities already take place in different schools.

However, only by integrating computing into compulsory education, can we make sure that it is taught in a structured, comprehensive and inclusive way. The short course approach currently pursued by the Dept. of Education makes sense but we need to train teachers as well as students to achieve this.

To answer the first challenge we need to start engaging in the pedagogically effective use of ICT to support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom.

The ICDL ‘ICT in Education’ course is free to ICDL schools and is designed to help teachers do just that by helping them understand the key concepts and benefits of using ICT to support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom.

It also helps teachers outline ICT resources that can be used to support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment. It also helps them understand how to source and evaluate ICT resources to support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment, outline the key features of classroom technologies and how to use key features of a learning platform.

The benefits to the teacher (and the school) is they are certified in the key concepts relating to the use of ICT in the classroom. Educators who wish to start effectively using ICT in their professional practice feel confident and supported.

The fact of introducing a subject into the school curriculum ensures that it is taught in a systematic and structured manner. Children who have already acquired computing skills through short-course or extra-curricular activities, should have an opportunity to certify these skills based on a recognised standard. In this case, the ICDL Computing module could serve as a practical solution.

This ICDL Computing module sets out essential concepts and skills relating to the use of computational thinking and coding to create simple computer programs. It helps students understand key concepts relating to computing and the typical activities involved in creating a program.

It helps them understand and use computational thinking techniques like problem decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithms to analyse a problem and develop solutions. They learn to write, test and modify algorithms for a program using flowcharts and pseudocode. They also learn the principles and importance of well-structured and documented code, programming constructs like variables, data types, and logic in a program. They learn how to improve efficiency and functionality by using iteration, conditional statements, procedures and functions, as well as events and commands in a program. They also learn to test and debug a program and ensure it meets requirements before release.

All of these skills are challenges we face in the modern workplace where the demand from business is for a structured project management approach, constantly releasable product and an iterative approach to functionality (think how many times the look, feel or functionality of your Facebook account has changed over the years if you’re not sure what I mean).

The one thing everyone gets from studying even a minimal amount of computing is that it assists in developing generic problem solving skills that are useful for everyone.

Read Part 1 –  Do we really need to code? (Part 1 of 3)

Read Part 3 –  Is learning coding and computing enough? (Part 3 of 3) 


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