Thursday, September 30, 2010

What ICT strands?

This week I've been away in Hong Kong doing curriculum review on the role of ICT in the PYP.  It's been an intensive, exhausting and exhilarating experience.  The best part of all was working with people who think in the same way and who have the same beliefs about the way ICT should be integrated into the curriculum.

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:

  • presentation/publication
  • web research/design
  • multimedia
  • graphics/drawing/visual organizers
  • data handling/spreadsheets
  • animation
  • integrated technologies
  • programming

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:

  • audio
  • data handling
  • ethics and responsibility
  • graphics
  • graphing
  • integrated technologies
  • research
  • 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


  1. I like the new version of the strands that you developed because they are important focuses with or without technology. It helps reinforce that technology is just an amplifier of life and the skills necessary for life are the same skills necessary in technology. It also makes it easy to adapt as technology continues to change.

  2. Hope that you have had a great time here in Hong Kong! It's been very hot!! Thanks for your post - It's important to keep things non-techie - but directly relevant to what happens in our classrooms and learning spaces! Thank you!!

  3. I loved to read the progress you described, from technical to a basic understanding of ICT as a tool in learning, understanding,creativity etc. I work on a project sponsored by the Norwegian government, trying to develop the format for a digital school book. Not important by itself that it is digital, but all the posibilities it gives if we can reach the studnents in various ways, reflect, gather information and reproduce ones own knowlegde and understanding. I attended the conference in Nice last week, and I met a lot of interesting people who think the same way as you. And some of them I will work more closely with the months to come to see how we best can open up the way of thinking that we believe is necessary, through what I call the Digital Theme Issues - digital booklets.
    I would very much like your comments, and suggestions, because we are just at the starting point, and every contributing idea or thought is valuable to us.
    To view a demo presentation:

    My site, where you find to booklets, Energy:

    Hope it's understandable.

    Yours sincerely
    Haldor Lonningdal
    Stavanger, Norway

  4. Hello Haldor,
    The books/magazines seem to be of a very high quality and certainly engaging for the students on many different levels. The photographs are lovely and I like the way students can access an audio version of the book and the way the technology is woven in so that students can always get the help and information they need to complete different tasks.
    Are you intending making these books for the subjects or topics that come up in Norwegian schools? Do you have a national curriculum that all students have to follow and that they can access using these magazines? Are they aimed mostly at secondary school students?
    Best wishes in your project.