Computer Education vs Computing Education

Computers are now common place in schools. However, despite the perception that today's young people are tech wizards, it's possible that their parents actually had a better comprehension of what computing is.

The BBC model B computer entered schools in the early 1980's. In addition to the large range of application software that developed over the years, one of the main strengths of the machine was that it offered a simple introduction to programming.
Contemporaneous 'home computers' developed by Sinclair, Commodore and their ilk similarly fuelled the appetite for computing in the young such that computing activity was often times split between playing games and writing programs of their own.

It is no coincidence that the UK games and software industry grew so rapidly at the end of this decade, and it was the years immediately after this generation graduated college that the Web grew so big, so quickly.

As computers became more mundane and every office desk sprouted a PC, the education around computing started to concentrate not on computing but on the use of computers. This is only to be expected, preparing young people for working life necessitates developing the skills they will need in employment and so writing basic programs gave way to using word processors, spreadsheets, design packages and the dreaded presentation.

Consequently, although today's school children are more familiar with computers and computer based devices, it could be argued that they understand less about their inner workings, capabilities and implications.
A computer is a tool. However, unlike a tenon saw for example, which has evolved with the input of craftspeople over hundreds of years to be a precision instrument with a specific optimum method of use, the computer is a highly flexible device ripe for use in any number of innovative new ways.
The concern is that by concentrating education on current usage, the potential for invention is lost.

A recent Government Report has highlighted this and has suggested a refocusing of ICT towards a greater degree of development and creation.

Of course, it's not just about computers any more. The Web evolved beyond an electronic publishing platform many years ago and is now better characterised as a computing platform, complete with distributed processing and data storage features and functions.
The notion of computing is now so closely tied with the connectivity between computers that in years to come it is likely that the invention of the PC and the subsequence connectivity of the Web will be seen as one and the same revolution.

From an e-safety point of view, this is all very important. Time and again we see preventable issues with communication technology being rooted in lack of understanding or comprehension as to the repercussions of our online actions. By focusing computing education on computing practice rather than scope and capability we risk not correctly equipping our young people to critically assess their actions now and in the future.

It is no small task. We are faced with training our children for a future involving societal practice and jobs that don't yet exist, which will utilise technology yet to be invented. The best way to do this is as with other subject areas, to provide a solid foundation of first principles which can be applied to new problems as they arise.

Written by E-safety Support on October 14, 2013 12:06

How vulnerable is your school?

We are delighted to announce that E-safety Support has now partnered with e-safe education, providers of a unique forensic monitoring service of online and offline devices.

The service offered by e-safe education is a fitting addition to the lessons, policies and guidance offered here at E-safety Support as the e-safe System helps in the education of e-safety issues which in turn will allow schools to move away from a locked down, restricted ICT system.

In the simplest of terms, the e-safe service monitors devices for inappropriate material and behaviour, on-line and off-line. All incidents are reviewed by a specialist team of forensic experts and child protection specialists who escalate actual and potential risks requiring intervention to school staff. The Service is simple for schools to deploy but is backed up by some very sophisticated technology.

To enable schools to evaluate the e-safe service and provide a measure of current e-safety levels and possible areas of vulnerability across the organisation, e-safe offers a free of charge confidential field trial of its unique e-safe Service. The trial requires no ICT Support team involvement beyond the granting of appropriate permission for the work; access to the IT environment; and communication with the school leadership concerned. The duration of the field trial is typically 4-6 weeks during which the school experiences the full e-safe service with all incidents reviewed by child protection and forensic experts; those requiring intervention are escalated against a pre-agreed protocol to nominated school safeguarding staff.

Download the e-safe data sheet here

Written by E-safety Support on October 10, 2013 07:23

Freemium - Tricks of the trade or legitimate practice?

It may seem somewhat ironic but the Internet has disrupted the traditional business models of the computer games industry just as it has many other industries.

The ability to distribute data electronically as opposed to on a physical disk has been an undoubted boon for many suppliers of digital or digitise-able content. It has also provided great benefits to the end consumer.

Not only does the Internet allow gamers located in different continents and time zones to communicate and play each other in real time, it also provides an efficient way of acquiring upgrades, expansions and even bug fixes to the original game software. Modern games consoles provide a platform which assumes a hybrid online/physical disk model.

These days of course gaming is big business not just on the traditional platforms and computers, but also on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones - all of which have an Internet connection.

Playable game demos have always been important for the marketing of new computer games and magazines have been distributing demos on cover mounted cassette tapes, disks and later CDs and DVDs for almost as long as the industry has existed.

In is therefore no surprise that the playable demo has used the Internet as a means of distribution.

Combine the notion of online program upgrades and the idea of the playable demo and you get the 'Freemium' model as it applies to the computer games industry.

A player can acquire a basic form of a game for little or no money and have a play. If they enjoy the game and wish to experience more, they can expand the games parameters by paying for an upgrade from within the game's own interface (and 'in-game' or 'in-app' purchase).

The Freemium model for digital content is widely used in a number of industries. Many online newspapers for instance will provide a certain amount of information for free, but require an upgrade to read deeper.

There has however been much debate around the freemium model as applied to computer games, and especially those which appeal to younger children. Recently the Office of Fair Trading warned the games and online application industry of what it perceived as "potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices" amid concerns that they could irresponsibly coerce children to pay to continue playing.

There is obvious concern over potential for children to spend or run up bills on in-game or in-app purchase.

It is yet one more area of online safety which parents and teachers will need to educate their children about. But like many aspects of e-safety, much of the learning is about ensuring that usual practice and knowledge is understood when contextualised within the online world. If a child has no concept of money or cost then what hope do they have of understanding a virtual purchase.

While it is undoubtedly possible to cite cases of some app and games providers applying a cynical approach to exploiting in-app purchases by bamboozling the end user into making purchases, the model when used responsibly is a legitimate mainstay of the software publishing sales strategy.

The freemium model is here to stay and is comparable to the way in which we pay for utilities per metered unit or cell phone call time through pay as you go.

One of the reasons that app and games producers use the freemium model is because it provides some kind of defence against the rampant piracy that the software, games, music and movie industry has suffered. Piracy is now so common place that many people simply expect all digital content to be free of charge and show little respect for the talent, energy, time and cost which goes in to producing it.

And yes, once again it is our responsibility to teach young people about piracy in the same way we would talk to them about theft of a physical item.

For teaching resources on gaming or online piracy, visit the E-safety Support Lesson Plans and E-safety Support Assembly Plans

Written by E-safety Support on October 10, 2013 18:48


Join E-safety Support

  • Protect your pupils
  • Support your teachers
  • Deliver outstanding practice

Recent Stories
Story Tags
addiction anti_bullying_alliance anti-radicalisation apps ask.fm assembly avatars awards bett Breck_Foundation bug bullying BYOD calendar cber_bullying censorship ceop chatfoss checklist child child_exploitation childline childnet child_protection childwise christmas ClassDojo classroom competition cookies CPD creepshot CSE curriculum cyberbullying cyber_bullying cyber_crime cybersmile_foundation cybersurvey DCMS Demos development devices DfE digital_citizenship digital_footprint digital_forensics digital_leaders digital_literacy digital_native digital_reputation digital_wellbeing eCadets education e-learning emoticon e-safe esafety e-safety e-safety, e-safety_support #esscomp #esstips ethics exa exploitation extreemism extremism extremism, facebook fake_news fantastict fapchat FAPZ film filtering freemium friendly_wifi gaming #GetSafeOnline glossary GoBubble gogadgetfree google governor grooming #GSODay2016 guidance hacker hacking icon information innovation inspection instagram instragram internet internet_matters internet_of_things internet_safety into_film ipad iphone ipod irights IWF language leetspeak lesson like linkedin malware media mental_health mobile monitor monitoring naace navigation neknominate netiquette network news NHCAW nomophobia nspcc NWG ofcom offline ofsted omegle online online_safety oracle parents phishing phone Point2Protect policy pornography power_for_good pressure PREVENT primary privacy professional_development protection PSHE #pupilvoiceweek ratting rdi reporting research risk robots safeguarding safer_internet_day safety SCD2015 #SCD2016 school sdfsdf security self-harm selfie sexting sextortion ShareAware sid SID SID2016 SID2017 SID2018 smartphone snapchat snappening social_media social_media, social_networking staff staff_training #standuptobullying statutory_guidance Stop_CSE stop_cyberbullying_day stress students survey swgfl SWGfL tablet teach teachers technology texting tootoot training TrainingToolz troll trolling twitter UKCCIS uk_safer_internet_centre UK_youth unplug2015 virus webinar website we_protect what_is_e-safety wifi wi-fi windows wizard yik_yak young_people youthworks youtube YPSI yubo
Archive