Planning for the Computing curriculum

At first sight, it seems bizarre that despite the fact that many teachers urgently need professional development, and time, in order to be ready to teach Computing, headteachers are not always allowing them to attend courses during school time. A business planning approach by ICT leaders in school could help.

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7 reasons to have a Computing wishlist

ideaHow do you decide what to spend money on when it comes to ed tech? Do you have a list of things you’d like to buy, or do you decide on an ad hoc basis when you read review of software and so on? Do you know how you would spend a small amount, like £10, or do you take the view that unless you’re allowed to spend at least £500 you don’t want to know?
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Planning for the new Computing curriculum

planning.jpgAt first sight, it seems bizarre that despite the fact that many teachers urgently need professional development, and time, in order to be ready to teach Computing in September, headteachers are not always allowing them to attend courses during school time. A business planning approach by ICT leaders in school could help.

You may think that a business plan is not relevant to you because you’re not running a business. But actually, many of the things that a business has to do, like marketing and budgeting – and planning – are what you do have to do in one form or another. All a business plan is is a statement of where you would like to be at a certain point in the future, and what steps you need to take in order to get there.

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Why you should review your ICT purchasing plans

When the cost of calling an engineer out to fix your printer is greater than the price of a new printer, you know it’s time to review your printer spending plans. That’s the situation I was faced with when I joined one particular school: a top-quality printer had been bought, one which was so highly engineered that you couldn’t fiddle around with it yourself if it stopped working.

Another unfortunate consequence of having such an expensive printer was that it

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Making It To Christmas: Starting Well

Well, the new term -- indeed, school year -- has started or is about to start, so you may think it is somewhat premature to be thinking about Christmas already!

However, in my experience the autumn (Fall) term is the toughest of the lot, and the final few weeks can be purgatory.

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7 Tips for Planning an ICT Lesson with One or Two Computers


What if you can only have access to one or two computers for the whole class for much of the time. Does that mean you cannot do anything of any value? Not at all. Here are seven suggestions for how to make the best of the situation.

Draw up a class rota of who will be using the computer(s), and in which lesson. Your planning may not entirely work out in practice, because of factors like absences and power cuts and so on. However, it is easier to ensure that all pupils have been given the same opportunities to use the computers if you have a rota than if you don’t.

With the ICT co-ordinator or other teachers, identify the areas of the ICT Programme of Study (PoS) -- or your own scheme of work -- that you will be able to cover. This is not to say that the ICT PoS is a sort of pick-’n’-mix, but that it may be possible for different teachers to cover different aspects of the PoS in order to ensure that it is completely covered.

Devise generic activities that can be applied to a variety of situations, such as internet research skills and copy/paste.

Devise activities that require pupils to share a computer. Computers are excellent for encouraging collaborative learning and higher-order skills such as modelling.

Adopt the approach of showing the pupils as a class how to do something on the computer, and then practising it in that lesson and subsequent lessons.

Plan your lessons in a way that computer-based work and non-computer-based work are similar in terms of intended learning outcomes. For example, to take the copying and pasting idea again, all pupils could be engaged in finding suitable pictures and pasting them into their written work, whether they are working at a computer or not.

If you are in the fortunate position of having a computer suite and computers in classrooms, it may be possible to teach the whole class a computer skill all at once, which they can subsequently practice in the context of other subjects and/or lessons.

Did you find this article helpful or useful? It was first published on 15th February 2008.


Managing Change: The Importance of Planning

If you're going to bring about real change in an organisation you have to have a plan. You need a vision, of course, and you have to engage people and get them excited about the vision. But if you don't have a plan then nothing much will come of it. As the old saying goes, failure to plan is planning to fail.

I feel embarrassed writing that: it ought to be a no-brainer. Yet I can't count the number of times I've sat in meetings and heard the team leader say, "OK, so by next month X will have happened. What's the next item on the agenda?", to which I've piped up: "Er, exactly how is it going to happen?".

Planning is essentialMuch as I'm slightly suspicious of targets and deadlines and milestones, the inevitable paraphernalia of rigorous planning, there is no doubt that they are necessary. (The reason I'm 'suspicious', by the way, is that it is all too easy for the targets to become ends in themselves, divorced from the context in which they were conceived, and therefore unrelated to the actual point of it all. A good example of this is how some police forces in Britain instruct their officers to return to the police station an hour before the end of their shift in order to complete a report about how much time they've spent, and who they've met, in the community.)

Good planning consists of the following elements:

  • Having SMART targets in place, ie targets that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-related.
  • Having deadlines in place for their achievement.
  • Where necessary, having 'milestones' in place, ie key events, with dates, by when things should be achieved in order to keep on track.
  • Knowing who is going to be responsible for what.
  • Having a mechanism whereby progress can easily be recorded and viewed. I think for a lot of purposes you don't need dedicated project-management software for this: a spreadsheet will do the job if used properly.
  • Above all, having regular and frequent review meetings to see if the work is still on course to be completed by the agreed dates, and if not, the reasons for that, and what might be done about rectifying the situation.

These are not the only considerations. In order for the plan to be effective, team members must have a large say in its construction. I hate using buzz words like 'ownership', but in this case it really is appropriate: if people feel they're just being 'done to' then it may be hard for them to feel fully committed.

There should also be a no-blame culture. If people feel they're going to have strips torn off them if they admit to not having achieved something, or if there's a shoot-the-messenger culture, most people will simply take the easy way out and say nothing. That merely stores up problems for the future.

Finally, I think that as far as any planning involving technology is concerned, the flexibility to change or reinterpret goals is vital. When I worked in a Local Authority, each team had a one year plan which was derived from a  three-year educational plan which was derived from a ten year community plan. Given that ten weeks is a long time in educational technology, feeling restricted by plans laid down ten years ago is madness. You may not be able to change the goal itself, but you may be able to change how its interpreted. For example, a goal like 'get parents more involved in their child's education by attending parents' evenings' might be interpreted in terms of checking their child's progress online and taking part in web-based discussions with their child's form tutor.

Certainly, spending plans should be revisited frequently. For example, a three year plan to equip every classroom with an interactive whiteboard may need to revised in the light of the entry of 3D projectors into the market.

The key thing in all of this is discussion, discussion, discussion. It may seem to slow the whole process down, but I think if you're hoping to achieve non-superficial changes that last, there really is no alternative.