A is for Assessing Computing: 16 criteria and 5 considerations

A student writes a program. What are you going to assess it on? There are at least 16 criteria you could take into account. Not all of these will be apposite – it depends on what you’re teaching and who you’re teaching. Also, I’ve framed the list below in teacher language; it’s up to you to adapt it into language that is more appropriate for your students.
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T is for … Tablets

538Assyrian_tabletI think all sweeping generalisations are bad, including the one I am about to make. But you know what? I think I’ll make it anyway, and here it is:

A school that says they are implementing a tablet programme is doomed to failure.

You can substitute “ipad”, “Bring your own device” or some other similar kind of term for “tablet”, the result is the same.

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R is for … Reviewing

Thumbs downFor a long time I have tried to refrain from writing negative reviews. My thinking has been that it’s nicer to be nice than to be nasty. I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, and rather than send some poor author or software developer into a tailspin of depression, I’ve often decided to simply not give the product any publicity.
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O is for … Old Technology

1963 - "The Outer Limits" The Galaxy BeingMy beloved netbook is in a sorry state. It has been languishing for quite a while, becoming more and more depressed as it realised it could not compete with my iPad in terms of cool-ness. In the end, it was too lethargic to fire up at all, and attempts to run it direct from the mains were met with a cold snub.

Well, I bought it a new battery, and a new mains charger. I thought it would be pleased, and to an extent, it was. It actually works now, which is a novelty. However, depression or resentment runs deep, and it refuses to work for any longer than two hours on a full charge, instead of its original seven or eight.

What to do?

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N is for … New Technology: 5 Reasons You Should Buy It

Watching home moviesI suffer from an unfortunate form of doublethink. In my personal life, I tend not to be an early early adopter. That’s because I rarely have an urgent need for whatever it is the new technology has to offer. However, when I was head of department in a school, and then when I ran a team of advisors and technical support staff in a local authority, I was very keen to spend money on brand new stuff.


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L is for lesson observation

I watched an episode of that seminal contribution to English culture, Waterloo Road last week, for the first time in ages. I wrote about Waterloo Road in What makes a good ICT role model? if you’re interested, but basically it’s a soap set in a school which has to be the most dysfunctional school anyone has ever come across. The kids are alright (as some pop song said once), on the whole – but the adults…..
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S is for … Superhero costumes

When I was young I used to love reading Superman, Batman and Spider-Man comics. Oh, ok, I admit it: I still do! Anyway, I always thought their costumes looked really good: colourful, good for showing everyone your biceps and, well, different.

The trouble is, of course, is that in reality these costumes would be awful

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M is for … Marginal Cost

Marginal Cost, like Opportunity Cost, is a concept used in Economics. It’s so useful, I’m surprised it isn’t used more often, or at least more explicitly, in general. It definitely comes into its own in the world of ICT or education technology.
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O is for … opportunity cost

DecisionsOpportunity Cost is a key concept in Economics, and is tremendously useful outside that discipline. It is especially pertinent in the sphere of education technology. It is defined as: the next best alternative foregone.

Unlike the more familiar idea of financial cost, opportunity cost can change its value according to both contextual and subjective factors.<

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E is for… Equality

Digital FlowEquality is a big issue in education, especially in connection with technology. For example, we are used to hearing phrases like “the digital divide”. But what does “equality” mean in this context – or, more pertinent perhaps, what should it mean?

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C is for … Curriculum

healthy soupThere has been much discussion about the curriculum in general in England recently, and the ICT curriculum in particular. I wrote about the latter a few months ago, in an article entitled 5 Characteristics of an Ideal Programme of Study for ICT. Now, three months and two draft versions of a new ICT Programme of Study later, I should like to put forward a few comments, both about the area of “ICT curriculum” in general, and about recent developments in the UK in particular.

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A is for … Assessing ICT

Apple PieHow would you rate the apple pie shown in the photo? Yes, I know the first thing that comes to mind is probably “Disgusting!”, because my food presentation skills are not what they ought to be. (Believe it or not, the apple pie depicted has not been eaten.) But how you assess my efforts must depend on what exactly you’re looking for. (I realise this is kind of obvious, but please bear with me.)

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