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ICT - ICT versus computing

What the lesson is about

As a subject, ICT is facing an identity crisis. Ask most pupils what ICT is about and they might respond with statements about spreadsheets, databases, posters and PowerPoints. Then there are the parents who come to parent evenings convinced that because their child spends hours playing Fifa, gossiping on Facebook and watching YouTube videos, that they must be "really good at IT". Look for careers in IT, though, and you will find it often involves networking, programming, troubleshooting and repairing computers, writes Mark Clarkson.

Taking it further

So what is ICT? When talking to parents and pupils, I says it's about using existing applications to solve a problem. Modelling, website creation, video editing and many of the traditional ICT topics fall into this area. The study of computers for their own sake - wanting to know how applications work and writing programs - is what I call computing.

Keys to success

Education is about giving pupils insights and experiences of the opportunities that are available to them. ICT is an important part of that, but so is computing. Pupils should be exposed to computing, whether it be programming in Kodu, editing HTML, pulling the innards of a computer apart to see how easy it is to upgrade the RAM or looking at a text document in a hex editor. It is not a choice about whether we want to teach ICT or computing any more than it is a choice about whether we teach numeracy or maths.

Where to find it

For a Scratch creative computing guide, try a resource from colport100. For more resources on control, computing and programming, visit the collection on the TES website. Also visit www.mwclarkson.co.uk.

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