From Scripting to Programming.
With the very interesting news about the scrapping of the “boring” ICT GCSE ICT and the move to a more traditional concept of computing I begin to think about the progress of computing from Year 5/6, through KS3, toward GCSE Computing and A Level.
This leads me to think about the idea of what is computing and the difference that some schools are teaching. Computing for me is the design of software systems that perform a generic function. Scripting is the configuration of a generic function to suit a task or organisation. Thus is scripting concepts like Web design and computing the development of the operating system? In essence scripting is a simpler notion to understand and to develop than computing.
I ask this because if we are to integrate computing into the UK curriculum, then perhaps we need to start with basic scripting, moving towards computing.
Schools currently try to deliver some scripting via control, this is the scripting of a machine or software to perform a function. For example Logo or SCRATCH. Thus should this be moved towards the KS3 curriculum and away from the use at GCSE level (particularly scratch). Control should therefore also be re-branded as computing, where computing is the catchall phrase of dealing with computers.
At KS3, control should morph into more scripting, perhaps using HTML for web design with an emphasis that this is constructing a product based upon a computing product. SCRATCH is useful here as it introduces notions of object orientated programming to the user (but not explicitly). At KS3 – perhaps at year 7-8, structures of programming languages can be introduced as well as the architectures of computing systems (here online computer situations can be useful – or indeed constructed in SCRATCH). Integration of the syllabus here with Science and Technology is crucial, particularly with the use of the new rasberryPi http://www.raspberrypi.org/, now in manufacture. Here I can also state that we remove references to business or core ICT, and leave this to individual subjects to deal with, such as English, Maths and Science. Perhaps it is time that ICT moved on from being a service to other subjects.
At KS4, this is where it becomes much more dedicated to the notion of computing, allowing students the freedom to code, to be creative. Allow them to choose their own program, use old laptops as computing machine, get them to experiment, give them the laptop and allow them to take it apart, upgrade and change, program, put on different operating systems, construct networks. Give them the freedom to develop their own IT network. Get the scientists to develop simulation games, the mathematicians to develop puzzles, encourage the creativity of the students to dig deep into the computer and what it can offer. Allow them to experiment!
At A Level. extend this idea of computing but introduce notions of professional design, without boring them rigid. This perhaps should be more focussed on new and up and coming technologies such programming Apps and thinking about business implications.
These are just a few ideas about where computing could take us. Exciting times to be in ICT – but when is it not – perhaps currently in the classroom?