From ICT to Computing: What's Changed in the Last Decade?

Over the past decade, there's been an important shift in the National Curriculum for technology and computing. The relevant subject in the curriculum used to be Information and Communication Technology, or ICT for short. A few years ago, this was replaced with Computing. The change is not just a rebranding. There's a significant difference between the two subjects and educators and professionals in many industries have welcomed the change.

In this post, I'll look at the difference between the two subjects and why today's computing curriculum is better-placed to help students with the knowledge and skills they'll need in the future. I'll also look at where there's still room for improvement.

ICT vs Computing. Same Difference?

No. These two are very different subjects. ICT looks at information and communication and how it's used in our society. Children learn about different ways of communicating and dealing with information using technology. The general perception was that this was a relatively lightweight subject. One example often used as a criticism of ICT is the part of the subject that teaches them how to use spreadsheets and word processors. Yes, kids will need to use these tools, although focusing too much on tools can have its perils as tools become obsolete very quickly. And kids can often learn how to use these tools without too much help!

Computing is a more technical subject that dives deeper into computers and computing technology. The focus is not on using computers as an end-user, but on understanding how computers work, such as by learning to code. Many wrongly assume that computing is the same as coding. Computing is a broader subject, and coding is only one part of it. For guidance, we've created a handy parents' guide to coding.