Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is in a name? Control or Programming?

KS2 ICT has been obsessed with control technology for as long as ICT programs of study were introduced. Unfortunately this focus has obscured teachers from realising that really we should be focused on programming.

Historically it was probably felt that KS2 7-11 year olds would be unable to access mainly text driven programming languages so the emphasis was put on controlling a turtle/roamer/robot.

This focus has obscured KS2 teachers from the rich pedagogy associated with programming which is helpful in IT but has a wider focus and application across the curriculum. Ideas such as debugging where you look for errors in the code or instructions you have written. The concept that everyone gets bugs in their code and that is normal but we need find solutions to these errors. Another important programming concept is that of syntax. That instructions will only work if written with correct grammar. Both of these ideas can be linked to literacy. We now talk about debugging our sentences when looking to see if we have missed punctuation. Another programming concept is the idea of planning a block of code away from the computer, creating an algorithm, so we understand what we want to do before approaching a programming environment. For younger children this might mean pacing out a roamer route and recording directions on a whiteboard before using any form of logo. Older children may need to verbally explain how a racing car is going to crash and then reset its spawn position before moving onto designing it in Scratch. This concept of a step by step sequence of instructions to solve a problem has many wider curricular applications.

Control is a small element of programming. Lets expand our own horizons and those of our pupils by talking about and teaching programming.

Incidently programming is only one element of Computer Science but thats another blog post.

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