Wednesday, 19 March 2014

ICT: The Good, the Bad and the ugly!

A very rushed blog.

I appreciate that in this day and age (makes me feel old saying that!) that ICT is EVERYWHERE... whatever we do there is some sort of technology involved. There is a strong argument for ICT to be taught across the curriculum and embedded wherever possible in a range of contexts. However, is it always good for children to be so competent in ICT at the expense of other skills? Should we ignore the importance of the 3Rs as long as they are able to avoid them and use technology (calculators, spellcheck etc.) instead?

The reasoning behind this blog is as you all well know I teach SEN. My pupils are P1-4 and most are learning at a very sensory level. Most are learning through exploration and experiences and only 2 out of the 8 have begun any kind of recognisable work towards reading/writing. It has astounded me at their level of competency with regards to ICT. Most of my pupils are unable to dress themselves or even feed themselves but are all able to turn on and access very easily a computer and Ipad (including changing the programme from what they have been given, overriding an ipad locked app, and finding the programme they want on the computer). I appreciate I'm talking about a very small portion of the population and will now generalise hugely but from previous experience working within MLD and mainstream settings I believe this is often the case.

For example, I have seen that children often begin school now without basic dressing skills and have seen few that require personal care (toilet training) even within mainstream settings. The same children were easily able to access a challenging ICT task with no problems or issues. Now I'm aware that this would suggest that parenting has resorted to using computers as 'babysitters'. But where do we draw the line. surely it wouldn't be too much to expect to have to 'teach' ICT and not dressing?

I wonder if we are losing the traditional means of literacy, again talking about my own class. Most are at a stage where they are unable to utilise writing utensils (due to lacking in fine motor skills, or in some cases simply not wanting to) however, will all 'type' letters on the keyboard and access simple symbol writing programmes. For them, writing is going to be a very long journey... however, would it be wrong to suggest moving away from this and encouraging ICT instead? Or even alongside to allow them to avoid writing (in the traditional means) forever?

And of mainstream children? those with moderate learning difficulties? It seems more and more that we're moving away from 'BEST WRITING' on the walls and simply allowing them to type up their work, also conveniently allowing spelling and grammar checking instead of proof reading their work. Furthermore, I also recognise that for SEN children that computers are often an 'equaliser' within a classroom setting. Obviously, in this case I know that we shouldn't expect them to write loads (for example) if they haven't got the ability too on the other hand, how will they ever develop and improve if they are spoon fed with ICT instead?

Where do we draw the line? I genuinely feel that children now... whilst they have gained so much that we didn't have in terms of technology and ICT... are missing out on the difficulties we had to overcome. ICT should be taught, in my opinion as a standalone, to not only learn the practicality of using a computer but also so they appreciate and 'problem solve' to be able to work in life without it. Of course computers should be available across the curriculum but certainly NOT at the expense of critical 'old fashioned' skills. I don't believe we should be encouraging or facilitating children to believe that computers are there to solve the worlds problems and will always be there for whatever they need. I wonder how many NQTs are taught to survive a lesson without an interactive whiteboard?

Very rushed thoughts.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Ria
    I read this post with interest - I teach ICT (amongst other things) to students in Y6-Y11 in a 3-16 special school. Their needs are very diverse: complex MLD, ASDs, BESD and SLD. The students really enjoy using ICT and together we can develop their independence, research skills, collaboration and communication skills. I agree that our students still need to develop "traditional" communication skills and independence/life skills, as you describe. We focus on literacy and numeracy, in English and Maths lessons, using a very active and sensory approach. We work on life skills through day-to-day activities, PSHE, residentials and dedicated life skills lessons for older students. ICT lessons provide something different and complimentary to learning done in other parts of the curriculum.
    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    Best wishes,