Can ICT earn its keep in schools... using Open Source?

How does ICT ‘earns its living’ as part of the education provision for students aged 11 to 19? The 11-19 sector is important because it: a) is (was?) a very big spender on ICT b) has the most diverse requirements from ICTc) is the...

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How does ICT ‘earns its living’ as part of the education provision for students aged 11 to 19?

The 11-19 sector is important because it:

a) is (was?) a very big spender on ICT
b) has the most diverse requirements from ICT
c) is the last stop befor work (sometimes)

In order to earn its very expensive place the assertion is: ICT must be manifestly useful to students with regard to their academic and training needs.

I use the word ‘manifestly’ when what I mean is ‘blindingly obvious’ or ‘self-evidently required’ . What I do not mean is that it is justified because it is ‘the latest thing so it must be good’ or that on some dodgy test-related metric it shows some gain in points.

Finally, emphatically, I do not mean that it ‘improves student motivation and engagement’... a phrase beloved of the edutainment-teacher who would, if given a chance, argue for ‘World of War Craft’ to be part of the National Curriculum.

An example of ‘useful’ would be (in the vocational sector) the use of CAD in the production of technical drawings or in the academic sphere the works of Ovid delivered in EPUB format to your i-Phone. Extremes indeed but lets get started.

The Lay of the Land

Schools in the UK in general are no longer divided into three categories; academic, technical and general vocational which previously were known as Grammar, Technical and Modern schools. The first two selected their intake through an 11+ examination, the highest scorers qualifying for the Grammar schools...but no more..

The single Comprehensive system which replaced the above necessarily has to meet the broad spectrum of educational needs suggested by the previous divisions. This is not an easy circle to square and into the melange ICT has inserted itself sometimes appropriately but often not so.

My assertion is that ICT which is now so expensive to sustain that it is in danger of giving itself a ‘bad name’ because in many instances its role is not clear and in others it is perceived (or soon will be) as simply wasteful.

But! ICT investment by schools is vital even so... but the whys hows and wheres need clarifying.

ICT as a Tool

Tools are used, as the Americans would say, in ‘shop-craft’. Shop-craft in the UK would be equivalent to artisan skills or vocational skills or more pejoratively, ‘blue-collar’ work. So included amongst this group would be the computer engineer, the hair colorist(sic) and the bike mechanic.

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