Monday, October 22, 2012

Postpone transitory magic ICT bullets and get back to basics with Computer Science

My challenge to every primary coordinator is to sort out the elements of computer science in their curriculum before spending any money on new technology.

Why bother?

Computing Science offers valuable thinking skills that can be used across the curriculum. After using the concept of creating algorithms to solve problems in computing we can extend this into mathematical problem solving. When designing a new program we break it up (decompose) it into all the things we want it to do. This computer science technique is useful for all planning design, be that writing a story or designing a new experiment. Enshrined in the idea of debugging is that it is ok to experiment and make mistakes and even more clever to find and fix them. Too many pupils have no concept of failure and what to do when this happens. Computer Science provides a good answer to this question.

Computer Science has long term longevity because it is not just anchored to transitory technologies but to underlining principles that underpin all computing technologies. A computer scientist from thirty years ago would understand most of the major principles of computer science today. This has great benefits when training teachers. Computing science concepts will still be relevant and useful for many years to come providing real value for your training budget.

Most computing science software is free and runs on older computers. No need to spend thousands buying a fleet of IPads. In KS2 a great Computer Science curriculum can be designed using Scratch and MSW Logo combined with some great thinking activities away from the computers. 

What to do next?

Enrol on a Computing Science course. I am running some in Hampshire for KS2 teachers but I am sure there are Computing Science courses around the country.

Sign up to CAS and check out the free resources section. There are forums to discuss all aspects of Computing Science at all ages. On the front page of the website is the CAS Computing Science curriculum that is well worth downloading.

Check out some Computing Science planning. I publish mine here.

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