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Matt Bury
Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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"Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum"

This looks promising: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/11/michael-gove-boring-it-lessons

I think it's a big step forward for school education as a whole. It'd be nice to see this happen with some other subjects, the way that schools and school boards used to be able to do a few decades ago, before the presecriptive UK national curriculum. It's also in line with Sir Mike Tomlinson's Working Group on 14–19 Reform report (2005?).

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Matt

Pardon me, I almost asked whether this Michael Gove is some sort of a prophet! Luckily I checked the Wikipedia article first http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gove. Very interesting, somehow reminds me of 'Corridors of Power'.

I came upto 'Considered by some to be a British neo-conservative, he called for early intervention against Saddam Hussein and stated in October 2004 of Tony Blair: "I can't hold it back any more; I love Tony!"' [And Tony loved George, both hated Saddam] At "He was a proponent of the view that the invasion of Iraq would bring peace and democracy both to Iraq and the wider Middle East." I had enough.
sad

Let's forget politics and have a closer look at the article. The title says, "IT lessons" and starts the text with "The teaching of computer science in school ...". Computer Science? Sure?

No, it reverts to ICT in the second para, "the existing curriculum in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has left children "bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers"."

I'm clueless to what this curriculum is!

Then he is going to 'create an "open source" curriculum in computer science by giving schools' an open source curriculum? What is the source code of a curriculum?

Further, 'the freedom', oh I see, open means freedom!

Freedom of what? '... to use teaching resources designed with input from leading employers and academics,' So the teachers have the freedom to use teaching resources designed by leading employers and academics. I wonder who they are.

May be there's a hint here, 'The announcement follows pressure from businesses critical of a shortage of computer-literate recruits'.

My goodness! This is the rebirth of ideas once introduced by an iron lady. [I don't know why they flog Merryl Streep.]

Good luck GB!
 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Hi Visvanath,

Yes, you've made some very astute observations, as usual.

Michael Gove isn't exactly my hero either but occasionally even the worst of politicians get things right. For example, the Iron Lady herself (Margaret Thatcher, UK PM from 1979 - 1990) lobbied to not pass legislation to require catalytic converters on all new cars and wait for "lean burn" engine technology to mature. As it turns out, the legislation set the minimum burn rate of all internal combustion engines in the UK and the US meaning that it is now illegal to produce more efficient engines. I'm not advocating for either Gove or Thatcher, just saying that they don't/didn't get absolutely everything wrong (The sounds of Thatcher's voice still makes my skin crawl!).

On the journalism front, you're absolutely right about the article being sloppily written, which "The Grauniad" is famous for. And yes, it is about ICT classes on the UK's national curriculum, which are as terrible and laughable as the article claims. I think anything would be an improvement.

As you've astutely pointed out, the devil's in the details. Time will tell whether they're really handing responsibility and control back to schools to decide on their own ICT curriculum. I get the impression that schools will be able to choose from any Creative Commons licensed course ware (Open Courseware) available or even develop their own. If this is the case, then I think some exemplary schools will work together with other schools and universities to develop more meaningful, relevant curricula that other schools can then adopt. If it's successful, they may even consider this approach for other school subjects. Of course, the examining boards and text book publishers would fight tooth and nail to stop this.

Let's hope "special interests" from lobbies don't have too much influence and spoil what could be a great step forward (or backward depending on how you view it historically).

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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More badly written info on the initial story from the Grauniad:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/11/gove-wiki-curriculum

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Oh, there are so many variations and counter-variations of this:

- British Schoolchildren To Get Programming Lessons
http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/01/11/1332222/british-schoolchildren-to-get-programming-lessons

- School ICT to be replaced by computer science programme
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16493929 (11. January)
'The current information and communications technology (ICT) curriculum in England's schools is a "mess" and must be radically revamped, the education secretary has announced.'

- Royal Society offers ways to overhaul ICT teaching
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16515275 (13. January)
'It follows promises from Education Secretary Michael Gove to scrap the way the subject is taught currently.' !
 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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The RSA have been campaigning and running independent projects alongside UK schools for some time: http://www.thersa.org/projects/education It'd be nice to see some of the ideas they promote brought into the mainstream, such as democratising education*.

* i.e. How can we call ourselves democratic when we bring up our children in an authoritarian, dictatorial (school) environment?

 
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回复: Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
 

Good thinking..

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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"Democratize education" by "giving schools the freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum"?

What a tumult?

Great endeavors need great minds. Not odd fellows like this one http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/14094594 (screen shot below).

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Visvanath,

What's your point?

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Hi Matt

My point? I heard about this tumult through your posts, definitely premature for me to make any suggestions.

By quoting that "odd fellow" in my previous post I wanted to say that taking a break won't be a bad idea. At the rate this guy comes up with great ideas, even a super power will buckle. The original topic of replacing the ICT curriculum in _public_ schools with computer science (?) was just the tip of the iceberg. He is concerned about a behavior which goes back to Socrates: the fact that a teacher still stands in front of the class and talks. Changing 2'500 year old things within a couple of years a politician has at his disposal, that's asking too much.

May be Minister Gove believes that he has to entertain the nation. To my surprise I noticed today that he keeps even the Swiss entertained. See http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/panorama/vermischtes/Die-Schnapsidee-eines-Bildungsministers/story/23299196.

Matt, you posted this series of news articles. What is your point?
 
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Picture of William Hamilton
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
 

Just a thought (and please don't shoot the messenger), not all the problems/issues with education have to do with the learners and/or the curriculum... how about many antiquated teaching methods and techniques, e.g., old school behavioralist.

As far as opensource curriculum material, with the open source virtual machine technology out there-- a person could easily have access to and learn/do everything from opensource install of desktops, servers, learning and campus management systems, virtual classroom, and open meeting environments. There's plenty in doing this kind of work; dhcp and proxy technology, working with LANs, IP addressing; Linux, Ubuntu, Moodle, Fedena,  BigBlueButton, Openmeetings, DHCP Server, Squid3 Proxy Server, Oracle VirtualBox and much, much more. I do this kind of thing now and would be glad to participate in a constructive way to this kind of thing on Moodle-- if the opportunity presents itself. I also have a teaching permit, knowledge of course design, etc. and years of facilitation and would donate on a worth while project... just a thought!

 
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Picture of William Hamilton
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
 

As a practical application, for example, in my home town (Niagara Falls, N.Y., USA) one of the oldest community centers (the only one) has had its doors closed for years now and can't provide the kind education and tutoring for tomorrow's youth. As a person very capable of running such a center (not that I'm specifically interested now as I'm an expat in Malaysia)-- my big picture/ how to begin to solve that problem, given budget constraints and grant proposals, would be an opensource scenario; what does that mean? (1) Linux desktops and servers-- ensuring robust access to pupils and managers; (2) Campus management using Fedena running numerous aspects of campus management, e.g., HR, enrollment, payment, exams, etc.; (3) Many servers providing rich resources (including Ubermix, Moodle, BigBlueButton, Openmeetings and more); (4) provide jobs skills, jobs, training and potential sources of income generated at the center from "services" provided by the students and/or center; and finally (5) a potential avenue for disenfranchised kids to find meaning, purpose and a sense of direction about the future.

That's how I see this whole opensource Linux argument and not just a fad to switch from Windows to Linux just because... no insults intended! I'm also keenly aware of other services a community center provides, e.g., arts and crafts, athletics,  but also suggest that a central theme would be ICT.

 
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Picture of Brian Lockwood
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
 

Running Computer Science classes is what we teachers were able to do in 1984. Then, the move towards communication and social descriptions of IT rather than actually doing things removed almost all coding from the IT classroom. 

Knighthoods were handed out to people peddling the tedious course that Mr Gove etc are now complaining about. Chief amongst these in the UK being the "4 GCSEs for doing almost nothing difficult or interesting" courses prevalent in the 1990's boom in 14-16 results.

It is nice to be back towards somewhere more sensible. 

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Anyway, a side product of this discussion is fruitful. The Raspberry Pi [1] is the answer from the next "BBC Micro" [2] and Sinclair [3] generation to the driving licence sickness of IT education. It was dragging on for some time, but right now attracting big attention [4] [5].

[1] http://www.raspberrypi.org/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Micro
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81
[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17190918
[5] http://www.osnews.com/story/25661/Raspberry_Pi_launch_turns_into_frenzy/
 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Hi Visvanath,

It looks like Raspberry Pi are suffering from their own popularity: Their website has crashed under the demand!

My father was a sci-fi and computer enthusiast so my first computer was a ZX81 and my next was a BBC Micro. Yes, I learned to program from an early age. I guess I was also in that small group of people that were the first to use ARM CPU chips and EPROMs.

It's be nice to have current and future generations feel at home on Linux distributions and not get locked into Apple or Microsoft mind-sets from such a tender age.

 
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Picture of copy cat
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
 

on linux in schools:

A local high school librarian (rural Tennessee) installed ubuntu on all the student computers, because the licensing for windows was outrageous.  Had the added effect of no virus outbreaks, and no unauthorized software installed on the machines.  smile

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Yes, Linux, along with WINE, is quickly becoming a feasible replacement for Windows. There's only a few areas left where switching from Windows to Linux is more trouble than it's worth. I can't wait for those to get "ironed out" smile

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
On Linux in Schools
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This came up recently in "Ask Slashdot":
http://linux.slashdot.org/story/12/02/26/1730239/ask-slashdot-how-do-you-install-ubuntu-on-30-laptops-and-keep-them-in-sync/.

Yes, it can save licence costs, even hardware costs, as happend 15 ago in my working place. To upgrade to the latest bloated software offered by Microsoft (was it NT4) we were supposed to buy new hardware! But that was a Comupter Engineering department in a university, a school in the Western World today is not the same.

The end user does not want an operating system, he needs applications. He is forced to see (and feel) one OS and managed to build some sort of a love-hate relationship to it. Now come the the Linux fans and change it, that could traumatize those end users so much that they'll never touch Free Software.
sad

With applications, it is different. Install the usual office, web, e-mail, multi-media applications on top of their OS of love-hate, they won't even notice.

That said, we also had a lively discussion on "Getting into Linux" http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=193117.
 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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If somebody from the UK can secure two Raspberries for me, please message me. Needless to say that your expenses will be covered.

The ArchLinux port to ARM sounds exciting!
 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Unfortunately they are still out of stock here too - looks like about 6 weeks lead time at the moment from the last I heard (Saturday) and then they were still saying 1per person. We're really excited to get our hands on some here to play with - sorry I mean develop some projects on big grin

I'd be happy to let you know when they become available again and see if you haven't been able to get hold of one by then smile

Richard

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Raspberry pie

Mmm... save a slice for me too! approve

I had a ZX81 and a BBC Micro... not through my school but because my dad was an enthusiast. The computers were eventually bought in and came to my school and we had computer classes. Unfortunately, our teacher knew nothing about them and was at the mercy of his pupils that did. If we have teachers who understand computers and know how to program, then I think pupils can be engaged enough to learn the fundamentals and go from there.

I wonder how many school projects will start to appear in open source repositories?

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Schools to be given freedom to run cutting-edge computer classes under plans for open source curriculum
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Interesting Q&A from Linus Torvalds where RaspberryPi was mentioned, between 52:25 and 55:12.

"Aalto Talk with Linus Torvalds, hosted by Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship (ACE) in Otaniemi on June 14, 2012. Linus was interviewed by Will Cardwell and followed with a Q&A session with the audience. Enjoy"

Warning: Strong language at 50:00!
 
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A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
 
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Matt Bury
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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Do you think UK school children will go from being bored to death by Microsoft products to being bored to death by Google products?

 
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Picture of Alan Hess
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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Hi

Consider the following (all of which I've seen) re learning and getting bored:

A kid in special needs who can't learn a few words of vocabulary in class. In the playground he readily learns, memorizes and retains over 200 pokemon card names and properties.

2) The young man who failed miserably in all school maths but was brilliant in subtracting darts scores in the pub with his friends.

3) The 11 year old who was deemed 'illerate' by his school but had no problem reprogramming the mobile phone he stole.

Learners need to see a point to learning or they often won't. As I don't too. Our job is get them to see the point, but that can be very challenging, especially if we're rigidly told what to do from above.

I  quite liked this approach from another forum - http://vcqm.wordpress.com/  The basic idea is to make all learning start within the scope the learners can readily understand. It basically boils down to looking very carefully at what we might assume about our learners and otherwise take for granted.

I took part in a discussion at the TES forums for teachers in GB whereby the merits of standardizing on various proprietal programming languages were considered for teaching programming in schools. e.g. Visual C++, VB etc....  I've taught several slow learners to make simple programs with Javascript, because it's bound to be available in their home PCs and requires no outlay. Also quick to edit and load in the browser. They can have immediate fun!!!!!  But we can't have fun can we.....???? Might that be the reason I was laughed down when I suggested it.

Regards

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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The 'Radical Manifesto' slowly unfolding:

That new 'Microsoft GCSE': We reveal what's in it
What the Windows 8 maker wants Brit kids to know
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/13/microsoft_gcses_and_it_qualifications/
 
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Picture of Steve H.
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
 

This all sounds very interesting.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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Mr. Gove's efforts bearing fruit?

Microsoft demands primary school computer science training
BETT education show gets underway with message from Redmond
"Microsoft has called for a "radical shake up" in the way computer science is taught in schools in the UK."
http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/careers/3423383/microsoft-demands-primary-school-computer-science-training/

(found in /.: http://developers.slashdot.org/story/13/01/30/2143234/microsoft-wants-computer-science-taught-in-uk-primary-schools )
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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To be honest, this UK government is doing so much to screw up schools (http://independentthinking.posterous.com/the-evidence-v-the-tories ) that any changes in relation to computer science will be irrelevant.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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Or are they really up to it?
"UK Government Mandates 'Preference' For Open Source" http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/03/16/1642254/uk-government-mandates-preference-for-open-source
 
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Matt Bury
Re: A 'Radical Manifesto' For Computer Teaching In English Schools
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I don't think this is an initiative of the UK government and more likely just them coming into line with official EU policy. UK government agencies have a long history of squandering vast sums of money on hiring private contractors with dodgy histories to set up national databases. Many have run many times over their original budgets, failed to deliver a service that is fit for purpose, and some have been cancelled. http://www.private-eye.co.uk/ does a good job of keeping up with what's going on in UK govt. IT procurement and curruption.

Weren't Microsoft behind pushing training from MS Office into schools instead of proper IT skills in the first place?

 
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