Information Communication Technology (ICT) lessons in the UK are set to get a shake-up as the government has been called upon to look at the way the subject is taught in schools. The request comes from the Education Secretary Michael Gove, who wants the current curriculum ditched in favour of something more beneficial to the students and the UK as a whole.
The current lessons have been deemed irrelevant and it's not hard to see why when their focus is on how to use applications such as Word and PowerPoint, skills which are already second nature to a generation reared on PCs, laptops and smartphones.Gove recently promised that as of September 2012, the current curriculum for the subject will be abandoned, giving teachers more control in what they teach their students. Universities and industry experts are going to help develop ICT's replacement which will see the focus moved from using programs to making them.
Of course, it's easy to see the limitations of the shift from the outset – programming is not the kind of thing that can be taught from a book and will need teachers with the necessary skills to carry out the lessons or require those who don't have them to take extra training.
Gove's announcement was well timed though as it was followed by the publication of a revealing report from the Royal Society which highlighted the lack of specialists currently teaching ICT in schools. Only 35% of ICT teacher are specialists in their subject, compared to a figure of over 80% for core subjects like English and Maths.
In his speech at the recent BETT show for educational technology, Gove said: "Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11 year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch. By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own Apps for smartphones."
In an era where smartphones are as ubiquitous among teenagers as they are adults, it's easy to see the benefits teaching students how to programme apps or games could have. Not only will it make lessons more interesting and relevant to young people, it could also potentially be very good for the country's economy.