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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Computing uptake meeting

I attended a meeting at Jordanhill College yesterday afternoon about encouraging school pupils to choose Computing as a subject. This meeting was a follow-up to a two day workshop in May (that I did not attend).

The meeting was chaired by Andrew McGettrick (Strathclyde University) and there were representatives of various universities (including Glasgow and Edinburgh) and national organisations (including Learning & Teaching Scotland).

We had a fascinating discussion about various aspects of the issue and agreed a number of action points, including a response to the current consultation on A Curriculum for Excellence, to ensure the subject (and the whole "digital world") is properly recognised.

I was keen to attend this meeting since uptake in Computing/IT at school has a knock-on effect at college, and I am aware of concerns about falling uptake of HNC/D Computing.

1 comment:

  1. Some points to debate :

    1) Thirty years ago, computers were "new" and exciting, and there was the prospect of reasonable employment with a decent qualification.
    Today, the kids know that a "business/management" course is more likely to get them a job, and it will probably involve less hard thinking and more money.

    2) At least some schools manage to completely eliminate any interest in computing by inflicting interminable training in applications, often by teachers who would benefit from more training themselves.
    There are English Universities who apparently refuse to accept Computing "A" levels on the basis of the amount of damage caused !

    3) Some of the Universities seem to have been recruiting to maximise the number of students on courses, regardless of the prospect of the student actually passing anything. At least that way they get the funding for the first year.
    High dropout rates ? I wonder why !

    4) Some students are set up to fail by doing subjects like "Software development" units at SCQF 4. All that they really learn from units like this is that programming is hard, and they avoid it in the future. How about doing something with these units so that the kids learn something useful and positive ?

    5) There is much in the computing disciplines that has the potential to be at least interesting and have some extension into the future.
    Why are some courses so unremittingly dull, and crammed full with stuff that had lost its appeal - and usefulness - ten or fifteen years ago ?
    Compounding dull curriculum with grinding tedious "evidence collection" assessment is the final nail in the coffin. Some of these courses seem to put more emphasis on collecting bits of paper ( yes - paper - in computing courses ! in 2007 ! ) than actually having any useful knowledge or understanding of the topic.

    6) The number of Comp. Sci. Majors in the USA has been declining for at least ten years - are there any lessons to be learned from there ? If there are will we be brave enough to learn from them ?

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