11 Aug '13

News ICT teacher takeover: a week to discuss computer science and ICT in schools

What happens when an ICT teacher is let loose on the Guardian Teacher Network? You get a whole week dedicated to exploring the subject. Guest editor, Mike Britland, sets out his plans

The teaching of ICT, now computing, has always entailed organic changes to the subject from year to year. Since the wholesale shift in focus towards computing, however, the future heralds even greater upheaval. There are few who doubt the importance of ICT, but how it fits into schools is open for debate.

It is without doubt that teachers of ICT are daunted by all these changes. As such, we have devoted this week to helping you implement the adjustments and the arguments that surround them.

The week opens with a great piece from Miles Berry and Chris Leach. Each of them tackle the subject change from different positions, do you agree with Miles that computer science "provides a unique lens through which to understand the world"? Or do you stand with Chris that "changing the name of the subject from ICT to computing is limiting the subject and would narrow our curriculum"?

We have two contributions from Stephen O'Callaghan who takes us through his journey delivering computing for the first time last year. He explains the issues he faced when starting out and, more importantly, his successes, such as seeing his "lower-ability students feeling success quicker and gaining in confidence by solving relatively simple problems".

It can be difficult deciding on which resources to use when delivering any subject and computing is no different. Stephen's second contribution sees him put together his top resources from across the internet that are sure to be of use to many of you.

Stephen's resources contribution is extremely useful, but are there – and will there be – teachers who are technically savvy enough to utilise them? In my contribution to the week, I examine the pathways graduates can take to train as a specialist teacher of computing. It seems that more help is required on this front: just 36 out of the 110 places available on School Direct training for teachers of computing are being filled, according to data from the Department for Education.

I also interview Matt Britland. He challenges Michael Gove's assertion that "for children who have become digital natives and who speak fluent technology as an additional language, the ICT curriculum was clearly inadequate". There's also a very interesting contribution from Laura Deighton who tackles Sugata Mitra's claim that traditional English language lessons are a "bit unnecessary" due to access to state-of-the-art technology.

Towards the end of the week we have an excellent panel lined up for a live chat on how to teach the new computing curriculum. Our experts will be on hand to discuss delivery of the new requirements. It will be an excellent opportunity to tap into knowledge and experience that can be hard to come by at times.

Finally, we round up the week with Alan O'Donohoe's excellent FAQs on teaching computer science. Alan is a pioneer when it comes to the teaching of computing in schools and his expert advice will sure to be invaluable to all who face the prospect of making the transition from ICT to computing.

Be sure to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, or by emailing mike.britland@theguardian.com

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