Not Just a Teacher

binge thinking on technology and education

Not Just a Teacher

DIY spec

July 18th, 2011 · 5 Comments · General

In my last post, I attempted to ‘start the ball rolling’ on creating a new specification for GCSE ICT that quality teachers of the subject want and despite the lack of responses to these ideas, I am sure there are many out there at least thinking about what they would like such a spec to look like. So, I have drummed my fingers in the meantime and started to recall a concept I considered last year, with a quite different perspective. How about this….

Core Issues

The fundamentals or core issues that all students need to be taught are a compulsory unit of work that all have to study. This should cover a wide range of the topics within the subject and allow students to see the breadth that ICT has. This would be set by the board. To my mind this lends itself to being assessed by exam.

DIY units 

Then instead of being given optional units or prescribed units, teachers of the course decide on projects/coursework they want to deliver to their students and create these themselves. This is the shock horror and head scratching bit for most of you I’m sure.

How’s is that going to work I hear you ask? – Well, let’s think about it…..

  • The exam board could assign you a moderator akin to what happens in OCR Nats, iMedia or indeed in most other specs where there is coursework. These moderators would have to report to a lead moderator and be a skilled practitioner of the subject (is that too much to ask?).
  • As a teacher of the subject, head of the subject, etc, you decide very early in the course or even prior to commencing teaching it, what coursework you wish your students to do (you could even ask the students!!) and construct a mark scheme to go alongside this. This markscheme will be used to mark your students work when it is complete and submitted.
  • Your proposal for coursework and relevant markscheme are sent to the moderator assigned to your centre. He/she judges the quality, range, etc and suggests amendments. This process is followed through until the coursework is agreed.
  • Your centre then marks the coursework at the end of the course or when coursework is finished and the moderator samples your work to ensure standard is as it should be.
I really like this idea and do not see how it could not work but will require some changes to current ways of working and attitudes especially from exam boards, in my opinion. But, think of the possibilities in terms of allowing schools and educators to specalize how they see fit. The tangents for this concept that I can think of are:
  • Having different coursework strands (e.g. a web design coursework for one group and an app programming unit for another) for groups of students all within one course
  • Creating a pool of coursework samples that continually grows as each assignment created by a school and the accompanying markscheme are shared centrally for schools to look at or even just use for themselves if they do not want to create something from scratch
  • Having 2 pieces of coursework done like this a course to allow for breadth if you so wish
Of course there are a number of tweaks and amendments that can be made to this concept such as having a marking framework that has to be used/chosen from to construct your version of the markscheme or having certain fundamental concepts that all projects must include (although this bit suggests the coursework becomes prescriptive). Yet, at the heart of this is empowerment. Surely, if we are good enough at teaching this subject and passionate about the areas of the subject we feel should be taught then this is the way forward.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Pete (@petejbell)

    I think this idea is very interesting and to a point I think it has legs. I won’t go over the usual concerns as these have been discussed elsewhere, but it could be simply a numbers game in the end. It is certainly worth talking this through further to flesh it out. I hope you get more commentary on here!

  • Sandra

    An interesting idea. As a Chief Examiner I would want to see a bit more structure than you suggest but I entirely agree that coursework units should be written so that teachers can best reflect local situations and the changing technology used in the real world. I have forwarded a link to this page to AQA through my Subject Manager. If you want some help putting the coursework suggestion together please feel free to contact me.

  • Anne

    After getting over the initial shock of a DIY coursework module, on reflection, I do like the idea. It has the potential for some very good-shared ideas amongst teachers, students and businesses. As Teachers we have experience of changing syllabus briefs or project ideas so that they become more engaging to our students, and keeping inline with the existing marking scheme, so why not give us the opportunity to create our own coursework modules and own marking schemes – that follow some standard guidelines for an even playing field. Does it have to be totally ICT? Could some area of Computing be embedded in the Syllabus – to give a more analytical approach? I would be keen to see further developments/ideas unfold and be happy to trial.

  • Nick

    Anne – thanx for the comments and I’m glad you like it. I feel this would be an exciting way forward. Intention to be as wide in the offering as to allow Computing choices as well as say perhaps building/installing networks or graphics work.

  • Peter Walker

    I think this type of qualification existed in the 1980’s for a variety of subject areas, I think it was City & Guilds. Would this avenue diluet the rigour of ICT, will it promot the numbers game that so many school have fallen into thanks to the league tables. This approach would require a degree of flexibility which in my experience government don’t like, consider the KS3 National Curriculum, perscriptive or what! It will be interesting to see where the government goes with ICT over the next few months.

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