Kiwi students being 'put off' computing

, posted: 30-May-2008 14:12

At story in Wellington's Dominion Post
Unrealistic and vague technology achievements standards are putting school pupils off tertiary courses and careers in the information technology industry, according to a highly critical report commissioned by the Computer Society. The society commissioned a team of high-powered academics to investigate the 18 technology achievement standards approved by the Education Ministry as part of its National Qualifications Framework. They found none of them were appropriate.
Which me to wonder what is in this curriculum. Some Dog pile-ing leads to "Generic computing levels 1 to 4 - developing assessment for unit standards" The areas within the curriculum are: Hardware and systems Programming Graphics, presentation and multimedia Business applications Internet and web Computers and people Doesn't sound so bad to me. Pulling apart the first one, hardware and systems, i can see they learn to:

identify hardware components withing a computer

seems good - they have to identify cards? PCI vs AGP etc.

Demonstrate knowledge of the opeation ofther system and application software

I ponder what this means. Do they mean they need to show they know the difference between an OS and an application? The task seems vague

Operate a printer

heh.. i guess finding GPL drivers can be hard sometimes, but most use postscript. Learning to refil the paper etc?

Complete basic operate and matinenance procedures

ignoring teh bad grammer - this is remembering to do apt-get update && apt-get upgrade? Migration to a new HD when you've got too much divx etc?

Demonstrate knowledge of ergonomic principles

Yes, OOS is bad. Throughout the doc it refers to "system software". I'm not sure what this means, it's ambigious. Further on they use the phrase "Operating System Software" so i conclude they meant to say "Operating System". What's missing? I'd like to see students doing 1. Build a PC. Motherboard into a case. Power connected. Cards in slots. Peripherals connected. 2. Networking. Hub versus switch. Wired vs Wireless. Spectrum sharing and channel selection. 3. Disk Formating and partitioning. Which filesystem to choose for what tasks. 4. Install an OS. Inspect a bootloader. That's just the hardware. p.s. why don't stories on stuff have bylines anymore?

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Comment by Tony Hughes, on 30-May-2008 15:53

I am teaching at the moment. Levels 1 - 4 are up to college level. I am teaching Level 5 and 6, a Diploma in Computing (Support). Split into Hardware, software and networking, the dimploma is 122 credits of NZQA Unit Standards. I teach skills such as identifying PC hardware, procuring it, designing systems, building systems (PCs and servers), troubleshooting hardware faults, replacing or upgrading equipment, installing OSes (In NZQA-land OS = "System software"), researching and procuring security and productivity software, installation, configuration, user acceptance, networking, hubs/switches/routers/wireless. pings, traceroutes, cabling (physical cabling design, build, install), printers, peripherals, drivers and more. Someone finishing my 1 year diploma should walk straight into a junior PC tech role or helpdesk role or better. Levels 1 - 4 really need to flow onto further training. There is no industry body updating the unit standards for NZQA computing since 2001. It was NZQA themselves, but they have not put ANY resource into it for 7 years. I have to be creative to get my students to pass 7 year old technology units, as well as making sure they learn modern concepts and technologies that simply didn't exist 7 years ago.

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Wally (Brenda) 
Te Whanganui O Tara
New Zealand