What would you put on the digital curriculum? top 12

If you had to design a curriculum purely for educating for the digital world what would you put in it? Most people find their way round wihtout needing an education but if you were to get formal about it what would you prioritise?

Here's the Key stage 1&2 subject list for general education in case you need somewhere to start:

English         Maths         Design & Technology         ICT

Citizenship    Art            Geography                        History

Music            PE            Science                               Personal/social/health

RE    Languages

Childlaptop Here's my dozen in no order of priority. Maybe you could sort them for me. Or provide some of your own.

1/ Typing course – I've never heard of typing being part of any curriculum apart from secretarial school. When I started work I shared a secretary who typed every word I ever wrote for a work document. Now I am expected to do it myself. But no one seems to care about the difference between 20 words a minute and 100. Simple overlooked. Its my number one.  I would even rate this over the ability to construct a sentence. Hunt and peck typists haven't as much time to think as the one who knows they can cane it out at high speed.

2/ Authentication and basic sampling. Apparently its OK to use the internet for your homework. Its not OK to copy it. Interesting distinction that one and hard to police. But who posted the material? How long has it been there? How do you know its true? Providing education in assigning confidence levels to information is the only defence against producing the most gullible generation in earth's history of the since people thought that a solar eclipse was the moon eating the sun. Do you really believe what you read on the internet? Why? the conspiracy theories of the 20th century have given way to the mass credulity of the 21st. We smell a rat but there's too many results in the search engine and we have to move on. 

3/ Digital geography.  How much of the internet is not written in English? What do Koreans do on the internet more than anybody else? Answer (watch TV) What's the difference between a Chinese Blogger and an Iranian blogger?  It is in the interests of a globalised information industry to suggest that every where is the same so we can compare like with like.  The tools of research were developed in the 19th century when it was impossible to work intelligently with more than 5-6 segments.  Human culture in infinitely more complicated than that even in the suburb or apartment block you live in. And internet culture demonstrates this. So we need education that actively undermines perceptions of homogeneity and allows us to properly appreciate context.

Gambar - Africa internet 4/ Ability to use a mobile phone for everything except washing dishes. The mobile phone is a disruptive technology. The fact that its usage can be so distorted by the telco's desire for revenue that its potential can be actually suppressed (thanks Iphone for helping to sort out that one) shows that markets don't always give you a level playing field. I read an interview with Peter Gabriel recently where he pointed out that mobile phones are revolutinising rural life in Kenya. Take 2 mobile phones. Give one to the goat herd on duty and another to the other goatherds. Who can go to school instead of goatherding but can be called out in an emergency. Mobiles are difficult for governments to control. Check out the Iranian election protesters and the Taliban where the advantage is firmly with the user.

5/ Storytelling. The inability to construct intuitive architectures which allow users to follow a sequence of ideas is one reason why we are still so dependent on search engines and the tags and links of other people. As soon as a crowd descend on a site the result is grid lock and total chaos. Look at Facebook. Or rather don't. Doesn't it get increasingly difficult to find what you want unless it was there literally the last time you went on? Information architecture requires an appreciation that sometimes you have to hold people back and let through a few at a time. Not to let a few people post far too much. And when you put your blog together – how thematically focussed should it be? How many links? How many photo albums. Great software design addresses some of this on our behalf. But now we don't have to make our own websites from scratch the danger is that we never have to hone storytelling skills. Film making also falls within this area. There was a time when the only way to watch a home movie was to start at the front and head to the end. Not any more. So edit and edit again.

6/ Synthesiser skills. Within this I include not only music creating sounds and DJing, but photoshop, Vjaying with video clips. The heritage of music production, dark rooms and video production means there are still a bunch of bores out there eager to tell you you're not doing it properly and they will teach you to do it like the pros (the pros who lost their jobs when everything went digital). Just go and have fun. And learn how to be funnier and cleverer than the last thing you watched. Rip Youtube, DVDs, take things off the telly, recycle your mp3s and resample them. The record and film companies hate it but there really isn't anything then can do about it – they're already adjusting their revenue models because they can't win. Before we remembered that human beings loved to play and create long after leaving kindergarten we called this sort of thing crafts and hobbies. Now digitise your granny if you have to. And go and play.

Hk-webcam 7/ Social skills. Most of our contact with people online is not face to face or low res by webcam. So how to build up an impression of a person from fragments? How to interpret sarcastic, ambivalent and aggressive posting. And how to build real friendships from facebook friends. And a litle ethical training wouldn't go amiss here either. When does curiosity turn into snooping? What's the difference between being an observer and a voyeur?  Add to that negotiation skills. And how to decide if someone on Ebay is selling you a pup.

8/ Reputation management. If the internet is a gigantic copying machine and nothing gets lost – that's a lot of data about you which is probably out of your control. So how to deal with that – not many of us can afford to hire Max Clifford to track down the offending images and remove them. Powerpoint for all its faults took down the barrier between corporates and sole traders. But the internet has largely eroded the diffe
rences between brands and individuals. They have more money. We on the whole are more interesting and interested in the world around us. 

Telegraphroad 9/ Mathematics. Odd choice this but the volume of data and the fact that we access less and less of it mean that our take on the internet is more like Jackson Pollock than Jacques Cousteau. We don't get the big picture. And maths is probably the best way to give us the conceptual furniture to consider the limitations of the information we are getting. I speak as a researcher here who has gone over to the qualitative side. Qualitative research will have to use mathematics for analysis soon. It just isn't acceptable to have findings based on 6 cassette tapes and enough conversation to fit in a single researchers brain. Online research has blown that out of the water. But I use this for illustrative purposes. You want to buy a car. Its optimistic to google 'new peugeot' and to think that is going to get you the best option. It is also foundational to measurement. I'm being quite theoretical here – I'm not necessarily pleading for set theory or advanced statistics. Its being able to think mathematically which will make the difference. Then either you can do it or find someone else who can.

10/ Languages. Bit controversial this one. But if you could code in CSS, XML, Flash what a wonderful world that would be. Most professional bodies are in retreat in the face of the digital onslaught. Developers who never really thought of themselves as a profession – more like a coral reef of bulletin boards are still here with us. If you can't code in html or one of the more advanced languages, C++ even then you will be constricted to play in the shallows for the rest of your life in areas designed by others – for their benefit and to their agenda. Even a blog is a very limited dsign for parsing the world.  

11/ Monetisation. The ability to make money on the web means you don't have to leave home in the morning.  It means that you realise that the lottery you just one you couldn't possibly have won because you never bought a ticket. And why do those nice Nigerians keep asking you to accept $4 milllion on behalf of their dead business associate? It means you don't have to join a trade union to collectively bargain for a wage. Now we're not all about to start working from home anytime now. But now most companies you leave your house to work for in the morning make signfication proportions of their income using the net. So why not work out how to do that for yourself?

12/ History – there was life before Tim Berners Lee God bless him. The adoption of the internet is not that new. Much the same thing happened when the telegraphy spread across the world. Tom Standage in the Victorian Internet charts this. But its not even reducing everything to bits and bobs. We need to get out of the eternal present. The new paradigms for the digital world come from all over. From the natural world but also from history. Because some one has usually already gone and done it. But make sure its world history and not just the western variety.

That's my stream of consciousness. What obvious things have I left out? And how would you sort them?



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