Started on the TES forums…

I think I’m going to have to add a new category for this blog, ‘Inspired by the TES forums, or something similar. I think fully half of these posts must have started out there and here we go with another…

There was a post late last night from a teacher who was finding it difficult to teach ICT. Pupils assuming they can come into a lesson and play Flash games, check email, etc. I’m sure all ICT teachers have seen that, but I think that for most it isn’t a huge problem (or it hasn’t been allowed to be a huge problem, I should say). Problems holding their attention was another difficulty cited and the first couple of posts (apparently not everyone is up as early as me this morning) talked about the boring nature of the National Strategy. Me, I’ve been up half the night (kids, blech!) and so my response turned into a bit of a rant.

I talked about a lot of the simple ideas I’ve used to make ICT more interesting. Instead of competing with Miniclip and MSN, why not use what the kids are interested in to hold their attention? I don’t mean bribe them with games, not by a long way. I know far too many ICT teachers that do this and it drives up the wall. What I mean is do things that are interesting.

Kids really don’t care about how much it costs to put on a school disco (7.4). I’m hoping they’ll have more fun next term when I have them pricing up sofas, pool tables and PS2s (should that be PS3s?) for a youth club. Still a bit dull on the face of it, but show me a kid who can resist flicking through the Argos catalogue and I’ll show you a kid in need of a big hug.

Instead of making a website about the school (8.2) or a PowerPoint about themselves (7.1), why not get them to make a PowerPoint about wild animals for their Y5 bretheren back at the Primary Schools? Why not get them to make a website for one of their clubs, groups, bands, etc? Why not get them to make a showcase for their Art work – take some still and video cameras up there and get some multimedia content.

Instead of filling in worksheets about communication methods (GNVQ), why not get them to make an advert for a mobile phone company, an office training video or a stop-motion animation?

The list goes on and on, A colleague of mine was desperate to get her Y9 pupils to really understand how attachments work on email in preparation for the QCA tests so they spent an hour drawing silly pictures and emailing them to each other. They had a great time and actually got the idea for how to attach and access files sent along with emails. Something obvious to us but actually quite difficult for a lot of kids.

My point is (and I’m aware I’m preaching to the converted) that we have so many tools at our disposal that it is criminal to allow them to learn Office for 5-7 years and call it ICT. No wonder pupils get bored and fed up with that. Using the Internet to teach yourself sign language is much more fun and probably more educational than making yet another poster in Publisher [spit].


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