Having been recently plonked back in the ICT Teacher hot seat its apparent that the lack of high-quality resources is a major hurdle in preparing good lessons for pupils. It seems (though overs may differ) that the accompanying resources from the exam board are massively expensive and look like they’ve been put together by someone that doesn’t possess any graphic design skill, or access to a good range of stock imagery. Its then off to trawl the galaxy of links via the internet with the vain hope that it won’t take a million downloads to find something worthwhile …. so ….
I need to produce my own. And because I’m a perfectionist, it takes time. On Sunday night I spent a fair few hours putting together a Who Wants To Be A (ICT) Millionaire quiz using our old friend Powerpoint. I recreated the logo, the look and feel of the show (using Photoshop), and crowbarred in sound effects and clips to add extra realism! Needless to say I still got the hyper-linking wrong, and my wife pointed out (correctly) I maybe could have better used the 3 hours! BUT, if it had worked, and if I do put a little more time into making them right it could be a high-quality resource for all of the teachers in school to customise to their liking.
Why aren’t exam boards doing the same? Good quality textbooks, with good quality, well designed, thoughtful, exciting and interesting resources – maybe that extend the knowledge that is delivered in the book and add to the learning horizon sought by both teacher and pupil? They must have time on their hands as the book is in development to run parallel development of resources? Anyone can create quizzes (which seem to be a stable of “resource”) but it takes imagination and skill to deliver something that makes the textbook jump from the page and into a pupils imagination – in fact with that little paragraph, even a basic use of Augmented Reality may be a start).
Anyway, I digress. I’m now looking for a way to simulate the follow of data around a typical computer system. Calls between the components along the pathways provided by the motherboard. So far, no luck. So, I’m going to create my own. I’m looking at a paper-based simulation, printing a range of components and peripherals onto paper, each with a paper connection and have pupils model how the data flows between them. I could also add access times, transfer rates, OS and application icons and use different data chunk sizes to calculate loading times, and to demonstrate how memory management works and how computers switches between available storage.
Stock images aren’t cheap though either – but I think if I invest now, they can be re-used over and over again, and also included into other lessons and resources around similar topics or expanded on in future. As well as modelling data flow within a system, pupils can categorise different hardware according to their course (primary/secondary storage for example or input/output devices) and I’m sure other uses will become apparent. It’ll take some time to get right, but hopefully it will be something of use.