Technology in Schools in the Dark Ages? 8

Great – another article damning schools and the Department of Education for failing the youth of today. The Irish Times recently published an article by Brian O’Connell who claims that since he was in school in 1985, nothing has changed in Irish schools when it comes to “teaching computers.” He claims that his son receives about the same amount of computer teaching time as he did almost 30 years ago and then argues that “computers” should be a stand alone subject in the curriculum.

Items that O’Connell believes should be in a computer curriculum would be typing, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Thankfully, he rescues his argument by proposing that programming also forms part of his curriculum and mentions the great work of CoderDojo who are plugging this hole.
As with almost all articles about technology in education today, O’Connell failed to pick up on the fantastic work being done in lots of schools around the country. This week alone saw Digital Art Week, a project that took place in over 100 schools around the country. Dozens of schools engaged in social media through a Twitter treasure hunt and there were hundreds of images uploaded to the National Children’s Gallery. A CESI Meet was held in Sligo last night where teachers from all over the country shared the fantastic work they are doing with ICT in schools from making apps to classroom management tools.
That was just this week.  There are schools using technology to help children learn every day of the school year these days through blogging, digital storytelling, podcasting, video and much more.
Some schools are teaching computer programming and, yes, I admit, probably not enough but we’re far from being in the same situation as O’Connell was in 1985. We’re even getting beyond the Interactive Whiteboard as a teaching tool and using it in more innovative ways.
The concept of teaching computers as a separate subject in primary schools is flawed. Children don’t see computers as separate – they are just another way to learn things. The Primary School curriculum got a few things right and one of those was not to allow ICT be a separate subject.  ICT is another methodology (or more accurately, a number of methodologies), and this is very important in its continued success.
Is technology in the dark ages now? I believe that lots of schools are emerging from the scenario that is outlined in this article. Sadly, another journalist has missed the opportunity to showcase the great work being done in schools today.