Comment on the draft Technologies Es & Os (ICT)

Unfortunately, due to work commitments I can’t make it to any of the Technologies Es & Os days that our colleagues from Education Scotland are holding. In an attempt to contribute to this ongoing work I offer my observations/comments about the draft CfE Technologies Es & Os -with a focus on the ICT aspect of things.

Now, I fully appreciate and value the change in emphasis Nationally on embedding coding in the primary school experience however, I feel as though we have moved too far in terms of emphasis on this in the new Es & Os. There seems to be such an emphasis on this area now to the detriment in learning that other aspects of ICT can offer. Also, for an area that appears to be dependent on volunteers for Barefoot computing or volunteers to run Code Clubs I think this emphasis is somewhat not matched up with an expectation that this really is a responsibility of all and as we all know the concept of coding has been an explicitly stated Outcome in CfE at second level ever since they were published. Is this volunteering thing a part of a longer strategic plan to look to embed this in schools, TEIs etc?

One of the issues that I have when I read the coding Es & Os is that they come across to me as if they were written by a secondary computing teacher. I do not see the primary teacher voice in there. I remember working with colleagues who were secondary computing teachers in the past when I worked in this area but there was real ownership of the language and context in this by the primary teachers involved but this was informed and influence by expertise of the secondary teachers. Now , even as someone who has some experience/expertise in the use of coding in the primary context, I feel that the language used will a little threatening for many teachers new to this coding switch.

More importantly I am trying to see the progression in this area of the Computing Science section section

techesandos

If an Early or First level learner is programming a programmable device or on-screen object will they and the teacher look to to fix (debug) the thing it it doesn’t work. It seems that the word building in 1st Level is replaced by design and create at 2nd Level. The mention of a coding language comes in at 2nd Level though. Maybe the benchmarks will help in making this area more understandable. I would argue that there needs to be a clearer pathway through the levels here. As they stand I don’t see a huge deal of difference between the ones in this example.

I was involved in a Twitter discussion the other day about the framing of ICT/digital skills being only used to consume materials and that computing science was the digital context where the creation of material would happen. The inference that I took was that creation is stronger than consumption? The creation and not just consumption mantra is one that I fully recognise and subscribe to as well however we must be careful that we do not lose sight of the rich learning opportunities in terms of creativity in the ICT/digital literacy domain. At present the Es & Os in the draft are pretty sparse in relation to this. For example, take the audio and video domains – there is no explicit mention of these in the draft. The exponential rise in use and popularity of YouTube and video as a learning tool/space is something that we maybe should be tapping in to more. We have our video channels now in Glow as well so why are we not making more of this area? Are we still going to ask children to write newspaper reports when more and more children haven’t seen a newspaper and when so many of them have capture cards and their own online video channels? Are we serious about this ‘jobs that don’t exist’ scenario or not (although I’d argue that has always been the case)? Where is our joined-up and forward thinking here? Again, I would argue that the draft Es & Os and the strategy that they reflect should be taking this in to consideration.

Lastly, the promotion of tools for collegiate/collaborative learning in Glow are promoted quite a deal by Education Scotland. We see so much about OneNote, Yammer, shared docs in O365 etc and yet there is nothing in the Es & Os about how learners can develop the skills necessary to help them become effective learners/contributors in the digital domain. It is not enough to be able to search the web, collect knowledge and be safe online – our children should be schooled in the art of writing and owning the web – it must be central to their thinking and behaviour. This can be done through purposeful contexts to explore coding as well as using the tools made available in Glow or Google for that matter. This is just not coming through in these Es & Os. I think the Mozilla’s Write, Read, Particiapte Web Literacy Framework and even the JISC Web Literacy framework should be points of reference for the further discussion around these draft Es & Os.

An opportunity was missed way back when with the first iteration of the CfE Es & Os were drafted. No account was really taken of the explosion of Web 2.0 at that time. We have to get these right this time.

3 thoughts on “Comment on the draft Technologies Es & Os (ICT)

  1. Alan Hamilton

    Derek

    This is a very helpful addition to the conversation surrounding the new technology e’s and o’s. I agree with you that it is essential that the collaboration and video/audio solutions you mention must be explicitly referenced in the digital literacy page, or at least referred to there and then explicitly referenced in the benchmarks.

    I disagree that the mention of coding in the computing science section needs to be to the detriment of collaboration tools. You are right to point out the difference between using digital tools and skills creatively and collaboratively to problem solve and coding. Both are important, but they are different. I was wrong (and didn’t mean) to suggest only computing science teachers/pupils can create online and that everything else is consumption – but I do worry that some people in education still feel that there is no place for computing science because digital learning/literacy is a responsibility of all.

    I’m not a computing science teacher and I shared your views when I first read the new coding e’s and o’s (that they look like they are written by a cs teacher and that’s not appropriate for the primary sector) but I have since changed my mind. I used the hour of code (code.org) resource with my daughter (P2) and she had great fun adding the stacks and then debugging. She was able to confidently tell me why it was important to do things in the correct order and how to solve errors where she spotted them (without just giving up and starting again). In my cluster my 2 computing colleagues have offered to work with primary colleagues to get this right. We know how cluttered the primary curriculum is, but can also see the benefit to our young people if they can be block programming from an early age, moving on to programs such as scratch in the upper primary and then python through the BGE. We do see the progression in these new e’s and o’s.

    Oops, didn’t mean for this to be so long. In summary, collaboration/collegiate learning using technology is a must and should be better referenced in the new e’s and o’s, great to see coding more explicitly referenced!

    I have fed back already, but your post has helped alter and focus my views – thanks again for sharing.

    Alan

    Reply
    1. Derek Robertson Post author

      Thanks for your detailed response Alan. I too share your positive outlook regarding the emphasis on coding in new Es & Os but do think, as I said, that the balance has swung a little too far in that direction to the exclusion of so much else. Implicit messages are given in National documents such as Es & Os. Imbued with all the authority that it naturally possesses it can weight expectations in a specific area to the expense of other valuable digital contexts for learning. There is not enough depth in them as they stand in my opinion. As for your experience with your daughter, I think it exemplifies the point I’m making. Children will naturally look to work out (debug) what went wrong with things like Hour of Code, Beebots, Roamers etc etc. This phrase doesn’t appear until second level though. I don’t think the progression makes this clear from Early level onwards. I wish the folks taking this work forward every best wish and hope that discussions such as ours can play a part in ensuring that the new Es & Os are fully fit for purpose.

      Reply
  2. paul martin

    I think it is inevitable that Edu Scot will be behind the curve; they have to be agnostic too for fear of upsetting some of their audience. Also there is clearly a wide range of IT provision in Scotland from those with 1:1 Surface allocation to Primary schools where the computer trolley gathers dust. Finally there is the issue affecting the STEM brigade of being too prescriptive and not letting the Teacher have enough flexibility.

    That said I am optimistic my grandson tired of his ipad at about the age of 3 so clearly there is not too much to cover at early Primary level.

    Reply

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