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Why is Learning IT so Unpopular with Students?

Tuesday 27th September 2011

In a news article published at the end of last month Computing.co.uk notes that the number of students who took IT GCSE this year (47,128) is 23 per cent down on last year, the biggest fall so far in a trend that has seen numbers decline by 57 per cent over five years. Fewer students also took ICT A-levels than the previous year and these figures have prompted officials to look into why this is happening. The Royal Society is currently conducting a study looking at the reasons underlying the lack of enthusiasm for ICT at school.

"Dwindling interest in computing at schools does not sit well with the evermore central role we are seeing computers play in business, government, home and entertainment," said professor Steve Furber FRS, chair of the Royal Society Computing in Schools study. "Our knowledge economy is dependent on a workforce equipped with the skills that computing subjects at school lay the groundwork for."

Many educators are blaming the current ICT curriculum for the problem, and the way that ICT is currently taught in schools.  The curriculum is dominated by use of databases, spreadsheets and word-processing packages that are historically the basis for careers in IT, however in more recent years, careers in any subject area involves the use and requires basic competency in IT systems. The curriculum right now is mostly devoid of more exciting and recent IT developments, such as social media and mobile computing, and doesn’t address modern programming skills, such as mobile app development, which would teach students more worthwhile skills for the modern world better than a lesson in data entry fields. Many education experts are arguing that ICT should enable teaching in all areas rather than be a subject in its own right.

 

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