Cross-curricular coursework

No, I’m not suggesting blogging to aid alliteration skills 🙂

I recently came across a blog article by Whelkstall that really struck a chord. The gist was that ICT should be used to help students succeed in general and not just for ICT’s sake. I don’t doubt that that’s true for ICT, as computers are merely tools. A blog is used to communicate ideas, a spreadsheet to perform calculations, a database to store and sort data, etc. The contrived projects we create for pupils are necessary to provide a framework within which to learn the necessary skills, but why not use a real situation?

The example provided was for an A-level ICT student to create a Flash animation about a particular artist which would also work towards his/her Art A-level.

Currently we run the Edexcel GCSE in ICT and for that we have to cover 4 coursework projects. Currently we create an interactive PowerPoint presentation (a crap project, but easy to get them into the writing and evidencing routine), relational database, spreadsheet and then a CD label and cover. Pupils choose their own topics but inevitably most end up creating an interactive travel brochure or shop catalogue, video rental or match booking system, pizza shop ordering system or hairdresser appointment calculator and a music or game CD cover.

Why not tie it in with their other work? Complete their spreadsheet task in conjunction with their maths work or help make a teacher’s mark book, make a database that ties in with geography fieldwork, make an interactive PowerPoint to help pupils choose which musical instruments to go for. The possibilities are, as they say, endless.

Of course this was the stuff they tried to drum into us during the PGCE but all we really got was the odd mention and no realistic possibility to throw our weight around during placements or even the NQT year. Only now, having had all those ideas shoved out of the way for the best part of 2 years am I in a position to actually do something about it. Hopefully now I can make the ICT projects more relevant, more interesting, and useful to subjects outside of my own.

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