[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[edu-eu] towards a new ICT curriculum in UK

From: Thomas Jensch
Subject: [edu-eu] towards a new ICT curriculum in UK
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 13:32:10 +0200
User-agent: KMail/4.8.2 (Linux/3.2.9-gentoo-tj1; KDE/4.8.2; x86_64; ; )


last week the FSFE edu-team participated in a public consultation regarding
the ICT curriculum in the UK. A blog post can be found here:

For your convenience, i'll quote the submission below.

Question: Do you agree that schools should be encouraged to deliver a more
challenging, rigorous, discipline-related curriculum in ICT, especially by
focusing on the foundational principles and practices of computer science?

Answer: Yes, we do. Computing provides a degree of systematic thinking that
allows a proper understanding of what has become a fundamental aspect of
modern life. It is not sufficient to train students in particular office 
schools should be encouraged to focus on the foundational principles and
practices of computer science. Students should be empowered to understand how
computers work, so they would be able to utilize ICT for operating or even
creating yet unknown systems and software. A short example should be sufficient
to underline the importance of education over training: Sir Timothy John
Berners-Lee, because of having gained knowledge of computers as such, was able
to develop new applications to aid his work as a fellow at the CERN. 1989 he
combined various pieces of Free Software with his hypertext idea and by doing
so laid the foundation of the World Wide Web.
Especially important is the inclusion of Free Software as a concept and a tool
within the ICT curriculum. Due to its openness and freedom to study, modify
and share the source code, Free Software is the cornerstone of a future-proof
and sustainable ICT education. That freedom stimulates the students to learn
from systems designed by others and by adapting these to the students needs
and interests. This might lead to the creation of something new.

Question: How can schools be best supported to engage with the ICT industry
and subject associations in curriculum development, in order to develop
innovative and creative approaches to ICT teaching, including the teaching of
computer science?

Answer: To a great extent, Free Software services are also offered by small and
medium enterprises. Looking at how other European countries support their
schools, the Austrian example is quite interesting: The ministry of Education
of Austria offers a financial incentive for using Free Software and Open
Document Formats. Schools therefore contract regional businesses and by that
they don’t just support regional companies, but they also improve the
availability of high skill ICT jobs, boosting the attractiveness of the region
in general.
Best practices in other European countries also include the cooperation with
Non Governmental Organisations and associations specialized in the integration
of Free Software in ICT education, such as the Free Software Foundation Europe
or FRISK (Skolelinux), as well as many groups with a regional focus.
Schools can be best supported by offering incentives (e.g. financial) for
avoiding vendor lock-ins, proprietary systems and file formats. Providing
infrastructure for communication and sharing of best practices, e.g. in the
form of an annual conference, while at the same time empowering schools to
freely make use of regional expertise is essential for a sustainable approach
to ICT education.

Question: Do you have any other comments you would like to make about the
proposals in this consultation document?

Answer: As demanded by employers, it is necessary to give students real
computing skills. Instead of being taught proprietary software “directions for
use”, young employees need the capability to adapt to any software. The
important key skill in ICT is the understanding of concepts underlying a whole
category or type of software (such as a spreadsheet or a word-processor), not
merely how to use a particular application. Consequently, they should get
unrestricted access to the source code, which is the case for Free Software.
Free Software enables and empowers interested students to go one step further:
instead of just using the software, they are enabled to modify or adapt it to
their own needs, thus improving the applications they use or develop.
In Education, means are more limited than in other sectors, because they have
to be employed on a large scale. As clearly stated in the Ofsted report, p. 47
(136), it is more relevant to pay grey matter (e.g. help for projects
conception, personal and educational training) or extra devices than to pay
proprietary licences. Also, Free Software is particularly performing and gives
increased perennity to hardware as it allows a longer use of old (and cheap)
hardware. Together with the absence of licence charges schools are able to
offer Free Software based ICT education instead of simple ICT training.
Free Software allows schools to set a better example and teach children to
share and cooperate and thus join a whole community that shares knowledge.
Free Software can be copied free of charge, therefore what a child can learn
is not limited by the parents financial resources. With a cheap computer and an
interest in programming, students can interact with developers from all over
the world and contribute to Free Software. The well known ‘Google Summer of
Code’ connects experienced Free Software mentors with young talents. This does
not only demonstrate the students programming skills to future employers, but
also the soft skills which the student acquired by working in international
teams. Knowledge is universal, Free Software too.

kind regards

Thomas Jensch
edu-team coordinator

-- |
Your donation powers our work!   (

Free Software Foundation Europe e.V. is a German Verein registered at the
Registergericht Hamburg (VR 17030). Its president is Karsten Gerloff.

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: This is a digitally signed message part.

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]