Computing as a subject has the grandest of aspirations, as the Programme of Study shows;
“…a high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.” Computing is in three strands; Computer Science, Information Technology, and Digital Literacy.
The Computer Science Strand is about using computational thinking to solve problems and make things for a purpose. It generally, but not always, involves writing programs. You can use computational thinking to solve many worthwhile problems by creating a sequence of instructions for the context of the problem, which are not programming instructions.
The Digital Literacy Strand is in two parts. One of these is about the safe and responsible use of technology. The other is about solving problems and making useful things by the use of digital tools, such as spreadsheets, video editing applications and so on. This part of the strand matches the old subject of ICT very well, and it cannot be stressed enough that you should not throw away all the good things pupils can do in this strand. The current emphasis on programming, and especially on coding is actually a substantial overemphasis, and it is essential that schools maintain a broad, balanced Computing curriculum, as they should do for the curriculum as a whole.
The Information Technology Strand is in two parts. One of these is that pupils should know how it all works; how information of all kinds becomes accessible to and manipulable by technology. The core idea is that of digitisation and its consequences. The second part is that pupils need to know how to use technology to work in the other two strands; they need a full range of competences.
Although these strands are defined separately, it is important to understand that when children are actually doing Computing, they will be working on a task or activity which brings together aspects of all three strands at the same time. So for example, when making a game by writing an interactive program, they will need to be competent with the language used, and the game will need to look good and be rewarding to play. And if they are using other people’s images and sounds, or even storylines, they should ensure that they have permission to do so, and have acknowledged their sources.
This description of the Computing Curriculum is expanded in full detail in the eGuides series, free to members. The blue series is related specifically to Computing. The core publications here are the Essential Guide to Programming, which also covers computational thinking, and thus references the Computer Science strand, and the Essential Guide to Information Technology, which covers this strand. The Essential Guide to Digital Literacy is under preparation. Other topics covered are Graphics, Databases, Modelling, and Spreadsheets, each of which has their own Essential Guide.
Share your own ideas, suggestions, resources and links via comments below.