It is now crunch time because numbers have declined to the point where IT teachers are losing their subject and having to reconsider their futures, eg. go back to teaching maths or whatever
Some despair and bewilderment has been expressed on some IT teacher lists. Comments such as:
It seems unbelievable that in the Information Age students are not formally taught ANY ICT
I too am puzzled at the idea that 'integrating' IT into other subjects will allow anything approaching an adequate skills base for the 'information age' and current employer expectations. Why not 'integrate' the teaching of English into other subjects - after all we can all read and write, and unlike IT, most if not all of us have done Year 12 English!So, although there are more computers in schools than ever before the expectation now is that all teachers ought to be "computer literate" and the proper place of computers is for them to be used in the context of traditional subjects. Word processing goes with English, Spreadsheets goes with Maths (if there is time left over after using the graphics calculator), web based research goes with Society and Environment, etc.
When computers first came on the scene they were new, exciting, important and vocational (new career pathway). Every parent was reported to have said or thought: "I want my child to learn computing". Now all that is changing and computers have just become part of the background hum of society, to be integrated into the traditional, long lasting, more fundamental subject domains: English, Maths, Science etc.
The stakeholders no longer see computing as important as a standalone subject. The students see themselves as "digital natives" who often know more than their "immigrant" teachers. The university IT departments prefer that students have a maths background, they believe that School does not know how to prepare students correctly for programming. These perceptions are neither right nor wrong (it depends). What they do signify is that IT has not clearly established its own internal strong criteria for its ongoing sustainability.
Who speaks for the computer? What is the computer for?
This is a failure of imagination and analysis. School has adapted the computer to its traditional goals. The early voices of the pioneers such as Ted Nelson, Seymour Papert and Alan Kay are not heard anymore. Once logo (which had a philosophy attached) went into decline and was replaced by Office (metaphor for apps) and the filtered web (metaphor for research) then it became inevitable that IT in general would go into decline. IT cannot justify itself as a standalone subject once it loses its powerful philosophical justification
IT specialist teachers can argue correctly that many English teachers do not teach word processing correctly, that many S&E teachers do not understand "web2.0" apps etc. but you can't really justify a whole subject just on the basis of skilling
Although School is pretty much dominated by narrow instrumentalist goals the traditional subjects do not occupy the same mental space of some of the arguments that have been used for IT. The continuation of English in the curriculum does not derive mainly from arguments like "there are jobs in English" or "you need English skills for a good job" even though both of these arguments are formally valid. Rather the English co-ordinator at the curriculum committee would say something more like: "the study of Shakespeare or John Marsden provides our students with valuable new insights into the human condition"
Does "web2.0" connectivism provide the basis for a brand new education system? I think probably not. I would see it as just one part of the puzzle, a new piece of the jigsaw built on top of the much larger edifice of modernity and the Enlightenment. The information age began with the printing press.
It is the failure of many of those who love computers to develop an equivalent argument and the failure of Schools to hear the equivalent argument when it has been developed, which explains why IT teachers are now losing their subject.
The argument does exist and can be articulated. The answer my friend has been blown in the wind, the answer is blown in the wind. The problem is one of hearing it, a social hearing in sufficient numbers that would make a difference.