|Informatics for Secondary Education - A Curriculum for Schools (ED/HEP - pii-iip - IFIP - UNESCO, 1994, 103 p.)|
The working party has aimed to produce a document which defines a practical and realistic approach to the secondary education informatics curriculum for both developed and developing countries which can be implemented, according to available resources, quickly and at minimum cost.
The curriculum has been designed in modular form so that education authorities can select appropriate elements to meet their objectives at the phase of development reached in their countries. Sufficient detailed description of each objective has been given so that writers can produce course materials which meet local cultural and developmental circumstances.
In any educational system, the level of available resources places a restriction on the degree to which any new subject can be introduced into the school curriculum, especially where only the most basic facilities have so far been provided. But informatics is of such importance to the future industrial and commercial health of a country that investment in the equipment teacher training and support services necessary for the effective delivery of an informatics curriculum should rank high in any set of government priorities. The curriculum proposed has taken account of these resource issues and has specified a minimum requirement for effective delivery in different circumstances.
Introducing any new curriculum calls for careful preparation, management, resourcing, teacher training and continuing support. Experience shows that informatics is no exception. Many of its elements may find their most effective place within other, existing subject areas. The proposed informatics curriculum could, for example, to a large extent be embedded within mathematics, science, languages and social science. Where this is not practical, or timely with respect to the phase of development (see below), it is recommended that the curriculum be delivered as a separate entity, calling where possible on other subjects for practical illustration and example.
Different countries will be at different phases of development in the use of information technology within government, commerce and wider society. Three distinct phases have been identified:
Automation Phase - where essential infrastructures are still being developed and conversion of existing systems and design of informatics solutions is the sole responsibility of technical personnel.
Information Phase - characterised by the move towards personal ownership or use of computing tools with a strong influence of the user on the design of automated systems.
Communication Phase - the most advanced stage when computers are in networks and use is characterised by collaboration between users and informatics is part of the essential infrastructure.
To help support implementation in particular countries, the curriculum has been specified for countries in the Information Phase. Adaptation will be necessary for countries in the earlier or later stages of development. Further advice on matters of implementation is given in Section 4.
Design of the Informatics Curriculum
The recommended curriculum has been arranged in the form of Units, grouped together in Modules which are designed for different levels of secondary education. Depending on local circumstances, however, the units could be used at other levels.
Foundation Level Modules are for all students up to the age when a choice is made either to stay in full time schooling or to seek work (usually at about the age of 16). Units for the foundation stage have been further grouped into a Computer Literacy Core Module, which is regarded as General Education for all students, together with a Computer Literacy Core Elective Module which is also targeted at General Foundation Level. A commentary is provided which indicates which of the above modules are of a Vocational nature, appropriate for students who will leave school for work after the Foundation Level.
Optional Modules of Computer Literacy are targeted at either Foundation or Advanced Levels; also two Units on Programming which are pre-requisites for those proceeding to Advanced Level Informatics.
Advanced Modules are for secondary school students who stay in full time education. Here again, there is a grouping of Units into a General Module aimed at students aspiring to higher education and a Vocational Module for students entering the work place after a period of technical training.
The following definitions have been used by the working party:
Informatics: the science dealing with the design, realisation, evaluation, use and maintenance of information processing systems; including hardware, software organisational and human aspects, and the industrial, commercial, governmental and political implications (UNESCO/IBI).
Informatics technology: the applications of informatics in society.
Information technology: the combination of informatics technology with other, related technologies.