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Topic Title: Design and Technology cirriculum in secondary schools changes
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Created On: 23 February 2013 08:42 AM
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 23 February 2013 08:42 AM
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TerryBarnaby

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Joined: 23 February 2013

I am an electronics and software Engineer involved with instrumentation systems rather than a teacher, but I have been heavily involved in the Greenpower project (Link removed an excellent engineering challenge) within the D&T department at our local school.
Has anyone seen the proposed changes to the D&T curriculum taught at schools ? I believe engineers need to be "enthused" during their formative years in secondary school. D&T is the subject area to do this, but the new proposals seem to take out most of the engineering aspects that are currently within D&T.
Forum on this: www dot believeindandt dot org dot uk/component/kunena/
Proposal: https://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/d/design%20and%20technology%2004-02-13.pdf

Is the IET involved in helping formulate schools curriculum ?

Edited: 23 February 2013 at 09:05 AM by TerryBarnaby
 27 February 2013 12:00 PM
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PADAVIES

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Joined: 26 July 2002

The IET will be responding to the consultation on the proposed curriculum. IET Members and Fellows are invited to contribute to this - please look out for the call for input on the consultations page www.theiet.org/policy/submissions/consultations/. Please note that we will also be commenting on the proposals for the new computing curriculum which are also contained in the consultation document.
Regards,
Paul

-------------------------
Paul Davies
Manager, Policy Dept.
Institution of Engineering and Technology.
 15 March 2013 11:43 AM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Paul, who actually appoints people to these IET policy panels? Seems to me this is a key question since these panels make submissions to government which purport to speak for the entire membership. However a quick read of the Energy Panel's submissions suggest otherwise. No experienced, free-thinking engineer could come up with such egregious cheerleading for subsidy farming, energy rationing and global warming junk science.

I see the list of policy panel members here:
http://www.theiet.org/policy/p...rgy/members/index.cfm

Where are the people to speak up for energy users and bill payers? You know - the people that actually have to pay for all the hugely expensive policies the IET panel are advocating?

Strikes me if the panel members were elected by the IET membership they would be far more representative and balanced.
 15 March 2013 11:49 AM
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petersheppard

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Originally posted by: Ipayyoursalary

Paul, who actually appoints people to these IET policy panels? Seems to me this is a key question since these panels make submissions to government which purport to speak for the entire membership. However a quick read of the Energy Panel's submissions suggest otherwise. No experienced, free-thinking engineer could come up with such egregious cheerleading for subsidy farming, energy rationing and global warming junk science.



I see the list of policy panel members here:

http://www.theiet.org/policy/p...mbers/index.cfm



Where are the people to speak up for energy users and bill payers? You know - the people that actually have to pay for all the hugely expensive policies the IET panel are advocating?



Strikes me if the panel members were elected by the IET membership they would be far more representative and balanced.


Bunkum!

Do you really think that the IET membership is interested? Just look at the poor turnouts for the IET elections every year, even better try the AGM, barely quorate most years!

I'm sorry, but you can take a horse to water, but most of the IET membership is not that interested in the internal operations (a very small %age actually get actively involved).

If you feel strongly and wish to contribute why don't you contact the Chair of the Energy Policy Panel and see if you can contribute.

Cheers

Peter

-------------------------
Peter Sheppard
Chair IET Transport Sector
Member Transport Policy Panel
 17 March 2013 08:58 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
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Thanks for the reply Peter. What you say is true. Most members ( including myself) are just too busy working hard trying to make a living to get heavily involved in this stuff. Therefore these panels tend to be dominated by people who are paid to be there in one way or another. So how do you guard against policy panels being captured by vested interests? Perhaps all panel members should declare any financial payments / share options / directorships which might conflict with the impartiality of their recommendations.
 18 March 2013 09:48 AM
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petersheppard

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Originally posted by: Ipayyoursalary

Thanks for the reply Peter. What you say is true. Most members ( including myself) are just too busy working hard trying to make a living to get heavily involved in this stuff. Therefore these panels tend to be dominated by people who are paid to be there in one way or another. So how do you guard against policy panels being captured by vested interests? Perhaps all panel members should declare any financial payments / share options / directorships which might conflict with the impartiality of their recommendations.


Again, based on my personal experience (I sit on the Transport Policy Panel) I think that we have a very good mix of industry, academia, trade organisations etc. across road, highway, rail, local councils etc.

As a final "guard" there is an IET member of staff responsible for that panel and everything going to government or to external media has to go through an IET internal review anyway.

So, there are checks and balances there.

I know I'm biased, but I do think the Transport Policy Panel does a very good job.

Cheers

Peter
(Bombardier Transportation)

-------------------------
Peter Sheppard
Chair IET Transport Sector
Member Transport Policy Panel
 19 March 2013 01:02 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Hi Peter,

Originally posted by: Ipayyoursalary
Most members ( including myself) are just too busy working hard trying to make a living to get heavily involved in this stuff. Therefore these panels tend to be dominated by people who are paid to be there in one way or another.


There you go - you're just not working hard enough

Following this logic the only people we would have sitting on IET panels would be the retired, the unemployed and the landed gentry!

Hope tomorrow goes well http://conferences.theiet.org/rail-safety/?nxtId=173786 - sadly I've had to send a deputy since I'll be running a rather less prestigous IET event as an unpaid volunteer http://www.theiet.org/events/l...75015.cfm?nxtId=176268

Cheers,

Andy
(Bombardier Transportation)

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert

Edited: 19 March 2013 at 01:36 PM by amillar
 20 March 2013 11:38 AM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Originally posted by: amillar
Following this logic the only people we would have sitting on IET panels would be the retired, the unemployed and the landed gentry!

Not at all. I'm merely suggesting that vested interests should be declared. It's no suprise if an employee / shareholder / director of company X is eager to promote the products of company X. That's all well and good. But he shouldn't pretend to be offering impartial advice. Nor should unelected appointees claim to be speaking for the whole membership of the institution.

Have fun at the egg race tonight. Cheers
 21 March 2013 04:58 PM
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amillar

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The consultation is now available on the link above, or for responding individually (rather than through the IET) at https://www.education.gov.uk/c...1881&dId=1253&sId=8297

At a quick glance through I cannot see any reference to D&T, not a great surprise as I don't think it registers on Mr. Gove's radar! Neither does there appear to be more than a passing reference to science. (I haven't read it in great depth yet though so may have missed something.) There is a section on ICT:
We propose to replace the existing ICT curriculum with a new computing curriculum. The new subject title will reflect the content included in the revised programmes of study for the subject. These are more ambitious and rigorous than the existing (and now disapplied) programmes of study for ICT, and place much greater emphasis on teaching the principles of computational thinking and practical programming skills.

The new curriculum will not only prepare pupils to apply existing digital technologies confidently and effectively in further study and employment, but will also provide them with the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to create new digital technology products.

Changing the subject to computing is also in keeping with the views of learned bodies such as the Royal Society.

Question 7: Do you agree that we should change the subject information and communication technology to computing to reflect the content of the new programmes of study for this subject?


An interesting question is how useful it is to teach programming to the majority of school pupils? Is it going to increase their understanding of ICT, or just make it seem like a techy world which only those "into" programming can enter?

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 24 March 2013 02:09 AM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: amillar
An interesting question is how useful it is to teach programming to the majority of school pupils? Is it going to increase their understanding of ICT, or just make it seem like a techy world which only those "into" programming can enter?

When I first heard of this initiative I wondered what good it was going to do. The time to teach pupils programming was when it was a scarce commodity and was required to get anything out of a computer - probably over 20 years ago. Nowadays, it is easy to work a computer without any programming skills at all. In fact, it could be said that programming is to using a computer as technical drawing is to driving a car. It is a necessary step in the process but does not have much relevance in practice.

If programming is required it is very often shipped abroad, particularly to India, in my experience. They have vast numbers of expert programmers who will work for a fraction of what we would expect in this country.

My personal hobby-horse is that most people do not understand relational databases and how they are designed. Expectations of computer data are based on spreadsheets and that is not the same.

Once you understand the basics of entities, relationships and attributes and how these map to tables it (IMHO) provides a basis for designing many systems or processes whether a computer is involved or not. It gives you an alternative and logical way to understand and arrange data.

So I would teach the basic building blocks of a computer and the basics of logical database design. That will be much more useful in later life than being able to write a "Hello World!" program in a variety of different computer languages because if you do get involved with computers you will immediately have an understanding of why the machine works the way it does. Going to the level of programming, even high level programming, will be too much detail.

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 24 March 2013 12:47 PM
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amillar

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Totally agree.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 24 March 2013 11:35 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: amillar
An interesting question is how useful it is to teach programming to the majority of school pupils?


I think you should rephrase that question "how useful is it to teach ANYTHING from the secondary school curriculum to the majority of school pupils?"

Just because something has been in the curriculum for decades doesn't imply it is useful or worth teaching to the majority. It could have outlived its usefulness some time ago or should never really have been in the curriculum in the first place.

Originally posted by: richwin
So I would teach the basic building blocks of a computer


Do you basically mean take a PC to bits?
 25 March 2013 04:19 PM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: jencam

[Do you basically mean take a PC to bits?

No, that was not quite what I was thinking but is might be a useful starting point.

I was thinking more of a block diagram approach to computers. So a picture of CPU, memory, disk, CD/DVD etc with the interconnecting busses. Then explanations of the different types of memory (RAM, Disk etc), the different bus speeds, which components will be used at which points in a program and what is a reasonable amount of each to have in a personal machine.

A description of the various limits would be useful, too. Why is a certain machine limited to 2GB of RAM, for instance? Comparisons to servers, server farms and mainframes would also be useful. Most people in industry will come across these at some point whether they are in IT or not.

For the more advanced, you could cover a very simple machine with a Program Counter, Instruction Register, Accumulator, Memory and Control Unit. It could then be seen why several billion instructions a second is desirable - or maybe this is just over the top like programming?

It is probably just my engineering side coming out. I always like to know how things work. I realise that people can drive cars, for instance, without knowing how they work but if you do you know you are not as likely to be fooled by the less reputable repair men.

Perhaps programming should be restricted to the IT students only.

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 02 April 2013 07:41 AM
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jencam

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ICT is a very expensive subject to teach and the amount of money spent on computers for schools represents a sizeable, and ever increasing, chunk of the education budget. This is money that never had to be taken into account during the 1970s and in previous decades. There are plenty of critics who argue that computers have only resulted in a marginal increase in standards in subjects other than ICT or that they are a complete and utter waste of public money that should be spent on more traditional areas or not spent at all. Government policy makers have also overlooked the fact that a higher proportion of children own a computer or a smartphone than at any time in the past and whether it has rendered large scale provision of computers in schools as obsolete.

Would it be more sensible for schools to have a smaller number of computers that are restricted to technical applications like programming or CAD rather than large numbers of computers used mainly for office type applications?
 03 April 2013 07:21 PM
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MAWilson

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I was thinking more of a block diagram approach to computers. So a picture of CPU, memory, disk, CD/DVD etc with the interconnecting busses. Then explanations of the different types of memory (RAM, Disk etc), the different bus speeds, which components will be used at which points in a program and what is a reasonable amount of each to have in a personal machine.

A description of the various limits would be useful, too. Why is a certain machine limited to 2GB of RAM, for instance? Comparisons to servers, server farms and mainframes would also be useful. Most people in industry will come across these at some point whether they are in IT or not.


Richard,
I agree with much of what you've suggested though I think it should be more concept with examples rather than specifics. For example, better talking about peripheral devices rather than go into detail of CD ROM's etc. It may lead to acronym overload which is common in the technological industries but can fluster many. Just think of types of memory (RAM, ROM, PROM, EPROM etc.)

I think an aspect of programming which would be quite useful is a process flow chart as it highlights system based thinking and approach to a given problem in obtaining a solution. I did my course on programming methodology in the developing world and it enabled me to understand the concept of loops (for, while..) in an algorithmic sense and I was able to transfer this in many applications at a later stage.

Jencam, don't think teaching ICT has to necessary be expensive as computers haven't really changed conceptually since the late 80's. The transistor sizes have shrunk giving rise to more processing power, cache and registers along with the data bus are a bit more complex and the rise of a more advanced ACU which enables pipe-lining/dual core processing but you could teach everything you need to know about computers with a 486 DX really. This is coming from someone from the developing world where essentially that's what we did using donated computers company's were getting rid of. Fixed a few faulty one's in the process as well.

M Wilson MIET

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education...
Mark Twain
 04 April 2013 07:19 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: richwin
I was thinking more of a block diagram approach to computers. So a picture of CPU, memory, disk, CD/DVD etc with the interconnecting busses. Then explanations of the different types of memory (RAM, Disk etc), the different bus speeds, which components will be used at which points in a program and what is a reasonable amount of each to have in a personal machine.


Schools already teach the block diagram of a computer highlighting the main components at KS2 although it doesn't quite go into the finer details of data buses and cache memory.

Originally posted by: MAWilson
but you could teach everything you need to know about computers with a 486 DX really. This is coming from someone from the developing world where essentially that's what we did using donated computers company's were getting rid of. Fixed a few faulty one's in the process as well.


My son already knows that it is technically possible to teach an ICT GCSE with a 486 DX running Windows 3.1 but schools like to have up to date computers with the latest software. When my son started primary school it had Acorn Archimedes, then it got RM PCs running Windows 95 and it even dabbled with Linux. The last government introduced a national ICT strategy dictating the latest Micro$oft software combined with massive investment in hardware which effectively killed off Linux in schools or teaching principles of computing on a 486 DX.
 04 April 2013 09:15 AM
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amillar

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At the weekend I asked my children aged 15 and 17 what they wished they'd learnt in ICT (both are heavy computer users with no great interest in how they work). The immediate answers were Access and HTML coding, which I have to say I thought were very sensible!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 04 April 2013 01:51 PM
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Avatar for OMS.
OMS

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Originally posted by: jencam

Originally posted by: amillar

An interesting question is how useful it is to teach programming to the majority of school pupils?


I think you should rephrase that question "how useful is it to teach ANYTHING from the secondary school curriculum to the majority of school pupils?"

Just because something has been in the curriculum for decades doesn't imply it is useful or worth teaching to the majority. It could have outlived its usefulness some time ago or should never really have been in the curriculum in the first place.

Originally posted by: richwin

So I would teach the basic building blocks of a computer


Do you basically mean take a PC to bits?


Much of what we teach most people in school isn't useful - the whole concept is based on an ability to learn something (anything) and repeat it under exam conditions - it's a simple tool to allow anyone outside education to compare people quickly and cheaply - ie we only interview candidates with at least 5GCE's in X,Y and Z subjects - the rest can go elsewhere type of approach

In my opinion, we either need to stick with it (to the potential detriment of some - but life's not fair anyway) or adopt a totally new idea that schools only need to teach people how to learn - equipped with the skills (and resources) plus a bit of monitoring, it would allow pupils to explore what interests them

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Failure is always an option
 05 April 2013 07:31 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: amillar

At the weekend I asked my children aged 15 and 17 what they wished they'd learnt in ICT (both are heavy computer users with no great interest in how they work). The immediate answers were Access and HTML coding, which I have to say I thought were very sensible!


Why Access? My son is very keen on SQL databases, especially for LAMP applications. He thinks that server side scripting languages for web applications are ideal for teaching programming. They also have the advantage of being able to connect SQL databases with HTML code. Whatever programming language is used it has to be popular and modern that is capable of creating an attractive and useful application with the minimal amount of effort. Something like Fortran will not do and C is too low level because it requires lots of libraries to do I/O operations.

When you say HTML do you mean HTML5? A couple of years ago a local college offered a web design course for adults that used the old deprecated HTML tags like <b> or <i> and did not even cover CSS.
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