I got laughed at a few weeks ago by IT technicians. What was the cause of the redicule? 


I asked for a CD...


The story...

One of the 6th formers in my school decided that he wanted to do the ICT GCSE in addition to the 4 AS subjects he was doing. He joined the school as a 6th former, and didn't have the option to do ICT in his previous school. So I offered to help him through it and supervised his coursework.


On completion of said coursework, it was my responsibility to mark it and send it off to the external moderator. As the coursework was in the form of electronic files, it needed to be sent on some form of media. The course was created in 2010, which meant that CD/DVD was .... still about 30 years old, so not new by any stretch of the imagination, but was cheap enough for any school to use for the memory sizes required. 


However, being 2017, one would assume that emailing it, placing it in a secure online space or sending it using a USB memory stick in the post woud be viable. But no, the specs had not been updated (as far as I could check). So I had to muster up the courage to head to the IT technicians, and ask for a CD or DVD. 



After the laughter had died down, I was told that I couldn't have one, because they didn't have any in the school. The IT manager offered to see if he had one at home and said he would ask a friend if he didn't. I ended up going and buying one from the corner shop and using that, but not before being reminded that technology in education still had a long way to go.


It's not just the schools and teachers that need to brush up their skills either. It doesn't matter what technology they use, or teach the students to use or rely on for work during the year. If the exam boards have their own strict rules, that may well be based in the 1980s, that's what the schools are held to.


Let's take exam papers, for example. Isn't it time that paper exams were relegated to the past? Think about it,

1. Completed exam papers are scanned in anyway, so markers mark on computer.

2. No printing or delivery costs, so £millions are saved every year.

3. Any last minute changes can be made easily, so problems like incorrect questions can be fixed easier.

4. It would be more difficult for students to cheat by getting hold of the paper before the exam, or the exam papers going missing or being found in unusual places.


Well, no! It isn't time yet, and here's why.


1. Many students can't type very well, and even more can't type faster than they can write.

2. Although, a few exams are already set up for online exams, like the BTEC First in I&CT, most are not.

3. Schools don't yet have the infrastructure to allow all students to sit exams on computer at the same time. At any one time, you can have more than 100.

4. Even if the infrastructure existed, schools may not be able to provide the support that would be required if things went wrong (or even if things go right).


The point I want to make here is, school exams in the UK are technologically behind. The GRE in the USA, and the ACCA exams in the UK, and many others are already done on computer. However, schools also need to ready themselves by addressing the issues listed above. Schools and governing bodies in the UK will have to address the issues together for any advancements and improvements to be made. The benefits (listed further above) are evident, but guidance is needed.


When will we be ready?

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