A need for training teachers in computing


Things are changing very rapidly on the digital technologies front in England. The government has made some very significant changes to the school curriculum, most notably replacing ICT with Computing. Unfortunately this policy change has had little backing with staff training. If ICT was discredited because teachers were not teaching with sufficient rigour the most likely explanation was thet they did not possess the knowledge and skills to do so. If that is the case it is difficult to see how they are suddenly going to acquire the skills and knowledge to teach Computing.

One solution to the problem would be to use the HandsonICT Mooc to provide the on-line courses to prepare teachers to teach the new curriculum. While this is directly relevant to schools in England, it will also be applicable to most countries across the EU. In order to sustain the MOOC beyond the lifetime of the original project a strategy under consideration is to develop supporting qualifications for post-graduate teaching qualifications in computing and the underlying technical knowledge and understand for working with digital technologies.

The rationale for understanding the underpinning technologies is that this enables transfer between technologies and an ability to change as the technology changes. There is certainly an appetite for change in the schools.  TLM, NAACE, CAS and Mirandanet set up a joint initiative to measure progress using a baseline test before teaching the new curriculum starts. This provides data on what children know before formal teaching starts. Subsequent tests will enable schools to monitor their progress in relation to all others nationally and if the principle is extended to other countries, internationally. It will be like individuals schools being able to benchmark their own performance in the PISA tests. By the end of the third week of the new term 22,500 children had been tested with the rate currently more than 2000 per day. 550 schools have made accounts to take part. This means that the initial sample for the first test is likely to exceed 100,000 giving a very representative set of data for a national picture.

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