Some years ago when I was writing curriculum at my last school I drew up what I thought were the main ICT strands. At the time there were 8 strands that we thought were important:
- web research/design
- graphics/drawing/visual organizers
- data handling/spreadsheets
- integrated technologies
Our aim was that at some point during the course of the year all of these strands would be covered by integrating them into the units of inquiry.
While at the same school I was head of the IT Action Team that drew up the strategic plan. One of the end results we wanted to achieve was that IT benchmarks would be integrated into all curricula to make student learning more meaningful. Our way of implementing this was to review existing curricula, identify year levels where benchmarks would be in place, identify areas of IT in the benchmarks and have departments be responsible for integrating the areas of IT identified in the benchmarks in their curricula. The aim was that IT teachers would become facilitators to ensure that those areas of IT skills were integrated into each subject area.
Following the acceptance of the strategic plan, another committee was formed to draw up the benchmarks. These ended up falling into 10 different strands:
- data handling
- ethics and responsibility
- integrated technologies
- sharing and collaboration
- text and presentation
- use of equipment and systems
In the past few days in Hong Kong we have again be asking ourselves what the important strands are. We talked about the fact that learning is a cyclical development process and that learners move from a personal to a group and hopefully to a global awareness. We have come up with 6 strands that are relevant to the development of all learners:
- investigate (inquiring or researching to create new understandings)
- create (innovating)
- communicate (exchanging information using a range of media)
- collaborate (validating and negotiating of ideas, sharing knowledge to reach a deeper understanding)
- organise (structuring and arranging)
- be responsible (making ethical choices)
I think one of the strongest points about the strands we drew up is that they are not specifically "techie" strands, in the way that the earlier stands I helped draw up were. Hopefully this sends the message that it is the integration of ICT that is important, the use of ICT to help students in their inquiries, not the mastering of a set of computer skills or a viewing ICT as a separate subject area. While in the past we have always integrated technology, the stands we drew up were still typical IT strands - the ones we discussed this week, however, are applicable to all areas of learning as they transcend the boundaries of traditional subject areas. This whole process has been so empowering for me and finally I feel we have got the emphasis on the learning, and not on the technology.
Photo Credit: Aloe polyphylla Schönland ex Pillans by J Brew