Keyboard & ScreenThis complete course of study aims to engage students aged 11 to 14 in developing their understanding, skills and passion for Information & Communications Technology. Based around hands-on, authentic and meaningful learning, it represents 4 years of reflection, evaluation and evolution in my teaching of students at ICHK.

Originally designed to cover and extend the UK National Curriculum for ICT in KS3, and to include some elements of media studies, the course has morphed into something which I believe is much more general, contemporary and exciting. The aim of this document (and those it links to) is to provide complete details of the course, such that you could turn up at school tomorrow and teach it as is. Alternatively, feel free to remix to your heart’s content, as it is all under a Creative Commons license.

Please note that whilst the course will hopefully prove relevant to students from a range of educational backgrounds, due to the nature of my students, some material here may be better suited to students outside of the 11-14 age range. Please apply your professional judgement and discretion, and feel free to share any questions, comments or criticisms.

Course Aims

  1. To encourage and develop students who are independent, creative, problem solvers possessed with understanding derived from hands-on experiences and skills.
  2. To encourage students to understand what it is to be human, whilst developing values, perspectives and behaviours which are positive, respectful, open and creative.
  3. To promote introspection, independence, self awareness, knowledge of the world and agency in changing it.
  4. To promote positive application of ICT to allow students to become better learners now.
  5. To ignite in students a passion for technology, encouraging not just its use, but a deeper understanding of its history, meaning and further development.

Learning Outcomes

The course is structured around the following 10 learning outcomes, which students encounter as they pass through the course’s various units of study:

  1. Controlling Machines – understanding how machines (including computers) are controlled, and how software can be developed to achieve this.
  2. Communication – Developing communication skills across a range of media (online and real world), learning to relate to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes.
  3. Creating Solutions – learning to combine tools to create solutions, leading up to the ability to work for real clients on real clients.
  4. Critical Thinking – learning to see links between units and subjects. Considering causes, effects and implications of phenomena, whilst using them to make predictions.
  5. Getting Work Done – learning to work independently and in collaboration with others in order to move forward in open-ended tasks with diminishing teacher guidance
  6. Humans & Technology – understanding the importance of technology in being human, and the way this is rapidly changing through developments in the field of ICT.
  7. Intellectual Property – learning to appreciate the value of intellectual property and its protection, whilst knowing that sharing leads to creativity and progress. Developing a desire to create and share meaningful work with others.
  8. Technical Ability – developing willingness and ability to use a range of tools, hardware and software, and understanding how they work together to create functional systems. Developing skills in troubleshooting and problem solving.
  9. Technical Concepts & Understanding – developing ability to understand and analyse abstract concepts, whilst developing links between different areas.
  10. Working With Information – developing skills in finding, understanding, analysing, judging, improving and synthesizing digital information.

Assessment

In order to promote introspection, learning for the sake of learning and real personal change, the course emphasises student self assessment (SSA), whereby students are responsible for assigning their own grades, and the teacher’s role becomes one of moderation and adjustment where required. A Self Assessment Guide is provided for this purpose (follow the link for more details, or look at the guide below for a quick introduction).

ICT & Media Assessment Guide_web

As effective and meaningful self assessment is time consuming, some assessments are graded by the teacher in a more traditional manner. In order to assist in this, an assessment rubric is available (I am not a massive rubric fan, but I understand that many teachers find them effective).

Study Plan

Teaching and learning take place through a series of discreet units, each of which revolves around a single theme linking together a number of learning outcomes. Units are designed to last between 210 and 700 minutes (3-10 lessons in our timetable), but hopefully the content is flexible enough to fit a range of different timetable structures.

In addition to units, single lessons are also used for self assessment, Google-style 80/20 time and important topics not covered elsewhere.

The table below shows my calendar for the 2013-14 academic year, including units of work, assessments and individual lessons. Each of the unit titles is a link which will take you to a complete description of the unit, including complete content written for student consumption.

Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Tools For Learning
7 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Be A Tech Ninja?Tech: Mac OS, Google, WordPress
Assess1: Tools Discussion
Assess2: Online Portfolio (SSA)
How Stuff Works
6 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Open Up And Explore Inside Gadgets?Tech: Remote Control Cars
Assess1: RC Car Blog Post (SSA)
Computer Systems
10 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Tear A Computer Apart And Learn How It Works?Tech: PC/Network Hardware
Assess1: Teacher Discussion
Assess2: Summary Essay (SSA)
Remix
6 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Tell Awesome Stories?Tech: iMovie, Creative Commons
Assess3: Remix Video (SSA)
High Tech Stuff
7 Lessons
Pitch: Why You Aren’t A Wild Beast, Or, What Makes You Human?Tech: Punched Cards, Pages, Prezi
Assess2: Humans & Tech Quiz
Assess3: Visualisation (SSA)
Student Choice
5 Lessons (Independent)Programming 102
Pitch: Want To Learn Skills Vital To Building The Technology Of The Future?

Tech: iOS, Android, Java, PHP
Assess3: Independent Learning Chat
Assess4: Final Product (SSA)

or

Build A Teacher
Pitch: Want To Prototype, 3D Print And Sell The Ultimate Robotic Teacher?

Tech: 3D Design + Printing, Acorn
Assess3: Independent Learning Chat
Assess4: 2D Poster+3D Model (SSA)

Teach A Teacher
7 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Show Your Teachers Who’s Boss?Tech: Mac OS
Assess4: CPD Delivery (SSA)
Web Design 101
6 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Master The Web And Build Anything?Tech: HTML, CSS, JS, jQuery
Assess4: One-Page Website (SSA)
Assess5: Mid Year Progress Summary (by teacher)
Epic Wallpaper
3 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Make Some Eye Candy?Tech: Acorn
Assess6: Wallpaper Design (SSA)
Digital Citizenship
7 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Keep Yourself And Your Family Safe Online?Tech: Acorn, Search
Assess6: Me vs. Me
Assess7: Online Safety Guide (SSA)
Data Processing
4 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Be Ready When Your Boss Throws A Stack Of Data At You?Tech: Search, Excel
Assess6: Data Graph
Assess7: Data Processing (SSA)
Programming 101
6 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Change The World?Tech: Coding, Scratch
Assess7: Problem Solving
Assess8: Word Processor (SSA)
Eyes Wide Shut
3 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Lose Your Sight And Know What It’s Like To Be Disabled?Tech: Laptops, Webcams, Skype
Assess8: Reflective Blog Post (SSA)
Consultancy
10 Lessons
Pitch: Want To Know What It Is Like To Work In The Real World?Tech: MAMP, Drupal, HTML, CSS
Assess8: Client Presentation
Assess9: End of Year Grade (by teacher)
29 Lessons
+ 5 Self Assess
+ 1 80/20 Time
+ 1 Misleading Images
29 Lessons
+ 5 Self Assess
+ 1 80/20 Time
+ 1 Representation
29 Lessons
+ 5 Self Assess
+ 1 Gadget Shop
+ 1 Software Philosophy

A Note On Software

If you are interested in the format of the units linked above, they were all planned using a system called Gibbon, which allows teachers to create units as sets of media-rich content “blocks”. These blocks can then be deployed very rapidly to lessons, and rearranged at any time using drag and drop. This process has cut down my planning time by around 50%. Gibbon is a free, flexible and open school platform, which I have been working to develop over the last 3 years.

Conclusion

This course is still under active development, as I add, refine and remove ideas, activities and even whole units. Any feedback is most appreciated: in particular I would love to hear how the content and experiences I am offering compares to what other teachers are doing.

Credits: Computer Keyboard in Use image by Aravind Sivaraj on Wikipedia shared under CC BY-SA