After the “visit” last month and sorting out all my marking. (very organised at the moment ) i started to think about Key Stage 3 for next year.
I have been planning to reorganise Key Stage 3 for a while now, and in my time as Head of Department we have started to introduce across the board units of work looking at Scratch / Google Sketchup / Animation and Video Editing to name a few alongside working on some tesources for #ictcurric. It may seem a long way off but September 2012 will soon be on us like a rash so what better time to start but now!
Ive been following very closely the great work of Brian Sharland, Chris Leach, Nic Francis, Ian Addison and Matt Lovegrove as they have looked at planning their take on ICT. Brian, Chris and Nic have concentrated on the area closer to my comfort zone – Key Stage 3 and have generated some fabulous ideas about the formation of #digitalstudies as “replacement” for ICT. Brian and Nic have been creating and contributing to the digital studies wiki. For years i have never been comfortable with the title, at time preferring to call it IT or more recently IT/Computing Studies. Even last week i asked my Year 10s if they actually knew what ICT stood for and only half of them did (is that my fault?!?!?) Interestingly i floated the idea of a rename and threw #digitalstudies into the pot to a very warm response – “that makes more sense” to “that is what we are really learning about”.
I also gathered feedback from ALL students who study ICT at our school under the following questions, asking them to answer honestly and anonymously.
Sum up ICT in 3 words
What do you enjoy about ICT currently
What do you least enjoy about ICT
How could we improve ICT / what would you like to learn?
I will add the word clouds for the above responses when I can edit this post from my laptop but they mostly made interesting reading. I think the most popular words for both the 2nd and 3rd questions was fun and interesting while the 5th for the 1st question was c***. This has certainly given me food for thought in the planning of our new curriculum and I’m a firm believer in student voice and involving them in the shaping of the new pos. At present I’m trying out a range of strategies and content across Year 7-9 involving the students in the evaluations of the content and also the assessment of each lesson.
In light of Mr Gove’s speech at BETT12 i have been looking at ways to respond the exciting challenge / gauntlet laid down to create an engaging and exciting curriculum for our students.
Of course there is the must attend event – RethinkingICT which i will be attending but in the mean time i have been getting my head around where we are now and where i want us to go. In essence i am working with a blank canvas but am lucky to work in a department where all members are keen to move things forward and embrace the changes we face.
Taking the ideas from Brian, Chris and Nic i have settled on the following strands of #digitalstudies
- Digital Literacy
- Digital Society
- Digital Technologies
- Digtial Creativity
- Digital developments
- Digital identity
- Digital futures
The main areas I’m looking at for the terms are (these are still at the drafting stage and could change / be added to before June):
- Copyright awareness – Storybird
- Game design – Scratch
- Around the The digitl world – Google maps / earth
- Social media in 2012/2013 – Infographic Creation – Adobe Illustrator
- Cyber bullying – Podcasting -Audacity
- Digital Portfolio Dvelopment – Google Sites / HTML /coding
- Digital identity Fraud – Kodu
- Viral Videos for YouTube – Serif Movie Plus
- Google Sketchup
- Digital Animation
- Olympic Gaming 2052
- Digital Literacy
- Computer Science Introduction
- App Development
Last week a met with a member of our SLT to sound them out about the proposals, I have to say from the outset that I am very lucky in terms of the school support for myself and also ICT as a subject since I took over as Subject Leader. After giving the background to #ictcurric and the recent developments in computer science I broached the topic of #digitalstudies and received an enthusiastic response. I have to return to the full SLT after the holidays to present the whole concept with firm ideas and plans for the next 2 years at least. Again I would like to reiterate that I’m in a fortunate position in that there have no moves (as yet!) to move away from discrete ICT as a subject area even though at present we are not core at Key Stage 4 but still remain an option.
Here is the following proposal taken from the words of Brian Sharland :
As a department we are working on developing an exciting, relevant and modern curriculum for pupils. We aim to provide a subject which will introduce pupils to computing and computer science but continue to encourage those pupils who are interested in digital creativity through multimedia as well as continue to provide the digital literacy skills which pupils need.
We believe that although all pupils should gain experience with computer science not all of them will go into computer science and therefore the subject should remain varied enough to provide all with appropriate challenge. #digitalstudies is therefore based on four strands, digital literacy, digital authoring, digital technology and digital society which will give pupils clear aims in a range of digital areas.
How is #digitalstudies different from ICT?
- #digitalstudies is portfolio based – pupils produce work over a period of time designed to be presented and shown elsewhere
- Assessment is done through blogging and end of year hack days. We also use badges to motivate pupils and demonstrate progress and acquisition of skills.
- #digitalstudies is career focussed – pupils learn skills which are useful for future career options
- #digitalstudies is a wiki based curriculum – no central programme of study instead driven by teacher and pupil editing
- #digitalstudies at primary level is focussed on developing the basics of computational thinking through simple systems development often revolving around building basic games
- Although the ICT programme of study didn’t specify specific software certain brands became indispensable. #digitalstudies is being designed to allow as much flexibility as possible in software choices. There may be certain portfolio tasks which require certain software but this will be the exception.
How is it different from Computer Science?
- It includes programming and computational thinking from Computer Science
- BUT keeps digital literacy from ICT
- It also includes Digital Creativity where pupils will also work on a range of multimedia skills not included in traditional Computer Science.
At our school we recognise that we need to prepare pupils for a digital world through a sustained engagement with technology and media relevant to their context. We show pupils how to use digital tools to control their relationship with the digital world and negotiate other software programs from previous knowledge and experience. Pupils develop cognitive skills that enable them to process both the information they encounter online and the tools they need to make sense of that information and produce their own information. Units of work which form a part of the Digital Literacy strand are designed to meet these needs through challenging and engaging work which seeks to produce pupils who are literate in digital technology and relevant processing and thinking skills.
At our school we recognise that technology and digital tools can be used as a creative tool as well. The basis of many arts today rely on the effective usage of digital tools to create a product whether it is audio editing, movie computer effects or photo editing. Digital tools can also be used to create new art forms as well. We therefore feel it is important to not only provide experience in as many different digital creativity fields as possible but seek to encourage pupils to develop their own talents and ideas using digital tools for creativity.
At our school we recognise that pupils will be using hardware and software throughout their career and will need to understand how that technology and hardware works. However in order to become proficient users of technology pupils should also understand how systems work and are built and also how to design, build and improve systems themselves. Our pupils are therefore taught the basics of programming, networking and how to build a computer. These skills are applied in relevant contexts to show pupils the relevance of these skills.
At our school we recognise that pupils should not only be taught how to use technology but also how to use technology appropriately in society. Pupils should understand that online communications whether from an individual or an organisation or government can have both a positive and a negative impact on themselves and society. They should also understand that they themselves can contribute to society through their own communications online.
Through the three other strands pupils will be producing digital products. In this strand pupils will explore how their work is legally protected but also how to use legally acceptable work produced by others. Pupils will understand their digital rights online but will also be expected to learn about the the digital rights of others.
The overview for each term’s content may look like the following:
Which brings me to assessment……..And of course the badges!!!!!
I had a lightbulb moment a few weeks ago while watching Chris Addison live in Newcastle. Not at all related to his set even though I found myself agreeing with a lot of the content (as expected I might say) but my mind was buzzing with a few ideas about #digitalstudies and different ways which would make it stand above what else that was on offer. I had read quite a bit about Open Badges while off work and was interested in the concept of awarding badges. While attending Liverpool matches with my son he loves collecting different badges and has a small collection alongsidee others he has collected. Recently he has been rewarding me with badges ( don’t ask ) and I was wondering how in fact the principle of digital badges could be applied to #digitalstudies and also recognise not just levels but also other achievements not related to “measurable” success by the data monkeys. In the last 2 months my students have created some I’m else work using Scratch and Sketchup and are just starting to produce Infograhics, Kodu games and viral videos for YouTube. The main focus has been to develop their independence in these areas and allow them to try and measure their own success throughout the project by periodically setting their own success criteria but also drafting and evaluating their work on a very regular basis both themselves and also by their peers. Of course at the start they struggled to get their heads around the principles of success criteria and for their current projects have been more realistic about what, how and why they want to achieve. I have blogged about this here
This brings me back to badges. As with all schools in the UK we have to report to parents and within this report sub levels at least every term to show student progress. This of course is monitored for quality assurance and something HMI look for when they come into the classroom – what level are you, what is your target and do you know how to get there? The question is whether requirement to report levels for NO programme of study; I can imagine the short and very quick answer is yes. However what if we used badges to recognise this and also other areas where students have shown progression no matter how big or small. These of course can be awarded by teachers but as students become more comfortable setting and measuring stheir own success they can become involved too.
I blogged about my idea 3 weeks ago and got a number of replies and comments of this google doc. Whilst some questioned my rationale others liked the concept and behind the scenes I’ve been working on the concept further.
On Friday a number of us had a discussion on twitter over value of badges and this lead some excellent blog posts form @misterel @teachesictand @sharland with some great input from @milesberry and @ethinking to name just a few (sorry if I missed you out ).
I looked again at Open Badges and will hopefully have a conversation this week with members of their team to see how we can move this forward not just for #digitalstudies but in line with my thinking of the wider curriculum.
Ivan’s blog post look at levels v badges whilst Brian has commented on the promotion of badges and Nic’s looks at bportfolio’s something which will be a core of #digitalstudies. If I’m honest at the moment I sit on the fence and am yet to decide which is the best route. Ideally I would just run with the badges awarded for levels achieved in line with targets for the school. The big question of course is what are these levels and how could they be attained. This goes back to earlier in the post when I mentioned about rewriting the assessment structure. In order to present to SLT I am going to write to separate assessment structures. One using the old criteria fit to the 4 new strands and then a brand new one for the 4 new strands. Some might say a lot of work but I firmly believe we need to make this right before we launch in September.
A someone mentioned on twitter we are still required to report on levels to SLT and HMI should they visit unannounced but I feel that we will cover all bases but using the badge system to award these but also more on top as well. As for the rationale i I’m looking along the same lines as open badges but want the badges to be independent of any learning platform so teachers/students have the freedom to set their own criteria for awards.
There are a number of key areas I would like to badges to focus on. Throughout my teaching career I have taught students who have struggled to plan and evaluate their work because either of poor literacy skills or other issues. Their products in some cases have been amazing and they have been able to utilise a range of ict tools and techniques to produce a superb piece of work be it a weather forecast using iMovie and green screen technology, an animation, a video, a scratch game or even a game using kodu. So under the old assessment regime these students have always struggled to achieve higher levels (in some cases their target level has been below average but I have noticed that in the last 5 years the target grades have shot through the roof with some expectation of progression of 1 1/2 levels a year a tad lets just say high!)
So why not reward these pupils with a badge that recognises their work for what it is in terms of their final product. Indeed the life cycle of the whole project will be rewarded too but each element has its place and although is interdependent of the other elements each has its own importance). This badge could be for excellent use of a new piece of software but also recognition that they have taken on feedback from their peers and improved their work.
As a thinking school we have been using tools such as thinking maps and hats for the last few years. In some cases I do not tell the students that they should use a particular map or in fact even a thinking map at all but when undertaking a task choose the best tool for them, and the task. This could just be a list or a mindmap or as one pupil did last week a square map! These tools are just a few in a number of strategies to encourage students to think smarter about tasks and I have used De Bonos Hats quite a bit when planning and evaluating work. In fact I’m currently re-organising my classroom to reduce the number of individual desks and one have one large set of table to encourage whole class discussion surrounded with different coloured rugs to represent each coloured thinking hat. Will this work? Well I won’t find out until I try as with trying to incorporate some of Ron Bergers ideas from An Ethic of Excellence and using Solo Taxonomy in the summer term I will never know until I try them out. I order to achieve success I expect a little failure along the way but the key is to learning from it. That is why in some ways I want the badges to be a success not just for the students but also for staff. I want staff to be confident in issuing badges ion the same way I want the students to be confident in all aspects of their work, from planning, to design, to giving feedback, taking feedback, incorporating this in their work, using new software, trouble shooting and evaluating work to nam just a few. I could go on but if you have got to this point I the blog post youve probably come to the conclusion I’m on a bit of a ramble ( I hope not!)
So where do we go from here? In terms of the badges I am in the process of designing and creating a set of badges for #digitalstudies and other key areas outlined above as well as HOTS, habits of mind and other subject areas. I have the infrastructure in place to manage the issuing of badges and think I’ve cracked the elimination of students just copying someone’s badges! I looked forward to chatting to Open Badges very soon too in order to discuss a way forward.
The next stage is to complete the assessment structure for #digitalstudies and put together digitally all the ideas and content for the #digitalstudies moodle site. A tall order some would say but a lot of it is already done and I will have more free time after the 15th May The plan is to have everything done for June and the latest the Northern Grid for Learning Conference 2012 and also the RethinkingICT conference. In the meantime I will be taking a well earns break for a few days, hanging out with @sharland and @teachesict to plot and plan and drinking a lot of coffee.