(DRAFT: Liable to change)
A partial index of discussion notes is in http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/AREADME.html
What should go into or replace ICT/Digital-Literacy
To be taught in parallel with Computing Science
In UK schools?
There has been concern among some teachers of ICT (and others) that recent discussions contrasting (poor) teaching of ICT in schools with (good, desirable) teaching of computing science including programming may end up throwing a baby out with the bathwater. This question was posted on the CAS mailing list: > So now we promote two subjects: Digital Literacy and Computer Science. > > Would the ICT community, on this list, be happy with this proposal? Unfortunately, despite the deep tendency of human brains to latch onto dichotomies, no *binary* division can do justice to the richness of the field of computing, a fact that should be acknowledged and taken into account by people planning educational strategies and those doing the education. For example: I know excellent, high powered, computer system administrators who do no programming. They use complex programs produced by others, in order to assemble a collection of services including network services, web services, email, backup facilities, and various software tools, including compilers and software development tools. They can do this because they have a deeper and more general knowledge of computing than merely knowing how to write programs (which they have probably done in the past). Another kind of activity that's different from programming, and different from using software packages is helping to identify requirements for computing services and choosing between options available. It requires a deep understanding of the needs of different kinds of users, and the ways in which computing technologies change, as well as the ability to relate offerings of manufacturers to the needs of users. And, as I keep complaining, everyone in the field consistently ignores the deep and growing influence of computational ideas in other fields of knowledge including several sciences and philosophy, as in this hefty book just published by OUP The Organisation of Mind, by T. Shallice and R. P. Cooper If computer scientists and computing educators go on ignoring the fact that the importance of computing extends far beyond the applications of computers, they will have to be replaced by teachers who know how to teach computing for science, giving computing education a role analogous to mathematics education. The USA seems to be ahead in this respect, e.g. the prestigious Siemens Foundation prizes for high school students include awards for science projects involving computation http://www.siemens-foundation.org/ Maybe the forthcoming robotics event at the science museum will help: some robotics researchers work on robot cognition in order to help them understand cognition, not merely to provide useful tools. So, ignoring for now the differences between schools and universities, the proposed two categories Digital Literacy and Computer Science. need to be expanded into a richer array including, for example (this is just a first draft brain dump): A. Varieties of digital literacy Domestic digital literacy being able to use computers and the internet for a variety of everyday uses (including using banking services, ordering items online, getting information on the web, using social internet services, using email, etc. Needs to be divided into various sub-categories, e.g. social entertainment education (incuding homework) e-commerce (many kinds of online shopping) services (bank/building society, railcards, investments, etc.) Office digital literacy including being able to use spreadsheets, presentation software, various document preparation tools, etc. Business management digital literacy including use of employee databases, ordering systems, customer records, ... Teaching (and learning) uses of digital literacy using computers to present subject material in all disciplines taught, including, where appropriate, specialised packages, e.g. simulation tools in biology or physics, graph drawing packages in mathematics, chemical reaction modelling, etc. etc. Musical digital literacy lots of types Artistic digital literacty (including knowing how to generate various kinds of computer art) Publication digital literacy knowing how to produce news services, newsletters, journals, books and other means of disseminating content for enjoyment or other purposes Specialised digital literacy of other kinds e.g. using mathematical tools, data-analysis tools, medical diagnosis tools, .... etc. B. The science of computation including The formal theory of computation, including foundational work by Frege, Russell/Whitehead, Turing, Church, Tarski, et al, on computability, decidability, definability, etc., and later developments on complexity, correctness, mappings from between formalisms, etc.
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham