Assuring Quality in a new ICT Syllabus Introduction - PDF by heapsofluvv


									Ms. Narjis Abbas
The Aga Khan University Examination Board Karachi, Pakistan

Paper presented in ACEAB International Conference 2006, Jamaica
March 14-03- 2006
                     Assuring Quality in a new ICT Syllabus

If education is considered as a creative agent of social change in reconstructing society or
serving individual needs then only selection of worthwhile knowledge and useful skills
can be made. The advancement of science and technology has brought significant
changes in the society. Man in modern age is required to have updated knowledge and
excel in skills to prove his usefulness in the society. It is the responsibility of educational
organizations to transmit knowledge, provide skills and embed values that can make an
individual a successful citizen.

“A major reason for young peoples’ lack of success in meeting out- of –school problems
is that schools do not give them sufficient chance to master important abilities which the
out of school world will require of them.” NEW YORK Regent Inquiry in 1930 (Taba,
1962, pg.391)

It is always difficult to accept change in any society. The innovations to be adapted could
be objects, ideas or practice and the difficulty increases in that order. Change in education
and especially in curriculum presents a very high level of difficulty indeed. The question
that arises in the minds of change agents is; will the innovations be adopted, implemented
and institutionalized effectively in schools? Hall and Louks (1975) have demonstrated
that it is one thing for an innovation to be adopted but it is much rarer for it to remain true
to that original vision during implementation. We are alert to that problem but at this
early stage in the adoption of the innovation, ICT in the Pakistani National curriculum,
we confine ourselves to the rational-empirical change strategy. This strategy holds that
when exposed to innovation, people will react in their best interests; when aware of an
innovation, seeing its inherent value to them, people will adopt it. The next question that
arises is how that change can be facilitated within the curriculum of a nation? The answer
to this question lies in the changing nature of the subject content to be taught as well as
the developments and changes in the society.

Revision and improvement of curriculum is a continuous process. Whenever a new
requirement emerges, re-assessment of curriculum becomes necessary. The correct
understanding of the problem is not only important but it requires that the problem must
be assessed in a wider perspective.

The secondary education curriculum in Pakistan is formulated in line with the concept of
the National Education Philosophy of Pakistan. It represents “experimentalism”. The
philosophy puts emphasis on human experiences and problem solving analysis along with
discovery. It demands changes in curriculum, keeping past and future in view.
In Pakistan secondary education is a two years program to qualify for the secondary
School Certificate. The General Scheme of Studies for the secondary stage is a base for
producing “trained manpower”, educated citizens and competent leadership to the
country. At this stage special aptitudes and interests of students start to take shape. They
prefer a course of study which is according to their aptitude. Students of SSC have a
choice between Science and Humanities groups. Along with compulsory subjects
including languages and Mathematics there are elective subjects within the groups. It is
significant that among all the elective subjects the common subject offered to both the
groups is Computer Science.

Computer Science not only covers electronic data processing but also prepares students
for problem solving through the exposure to the BASIC programming language.
However the subject of Computer Science has now been found to cater best to the needs
of students with mathematical aptitude. Humanities students select the subject but it does
not helps them in the long run. Industries require competent computer users rather than
computer programmers skilled in an obsolete language. As a consequence commercial
institutes have mushroomed in Pakistan and secondary school students spend time and
money there to gain ICT-based employable skills. The popularity of PCs, mobile phones
and internet among individuals creates further pressure for change in the existing

Among the several factors which justify the change in the curriculum two stands out in
relation to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
1. Cultural and social changes and expectations due to the use of computers and
especially communication devices like mobile phones;
2. Employers’ requirements.

In other words changing curriculum means helping people change. Frymier (1970 pg. 32)

Rationale for developing an ICT syllabus
The government of Pakistan launched a new education policy in June, 1998, to prepare
the nation to gracefully enter the 21st Century, which would provide guide lines on
strengthening the ideological frontiers of Pakistan, based on Islamic teachings and to
equip the nation with required knowledge and skills. The policy synchronizes its
provisions with the targets of the 9th Five Year Program and it follows the perception of
the Vision-2010 (

Some of the basic covenants of the policy are:

•   Curriculum revision in accordance with the requirement of 21st century.
•   Introduction of computer education in schools and greater emphasis on technical
•   Professionalization and improvement of the examination system at all levels.
In pursuance of National Education Policy(1998-2010), the curriculum wing of the
Federal Ministry of education has begun a process of curriculum reform to improve the
quality of education through curriculum revision and textbook development ( Preface
National Curriculum documents 2000 and 2002).

Along with compulsory subjects including Languages (English, Urdu, regional),
Mathematics and Sciences, Computer Science is offered in both the specialist groups.
Computer Science subject is divided into two portions. The first part of the syllabus
consists of Electronic Data Processing along with details of hardware. The second part
consists of problem solving using the BASIC programming language.

The Aga Khan University Examination Board was founded in August 2003 with the aim
of improving the quality of education nation wide. The purpose of the examination board
is to reinforce the National Curriculum revision through the development of appropriate
examinations for the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary
Certificate (HSC) based on the new (1998-2010) National Curriculum and syllabi.
( AKU-EB exam syllabus, 2004 )

Taking inspiration from the Government policy on “Information Technology” which
says, “Computers shall be introduced in secondary schools in a phased manner.
School curricula shall be revised to include recent developments in information
technology, such as software development, the information Super High Way,
designing Web Pages, etc”.

AKU-EB had taken an initiative to develop an ICT syllabus for Secondary School
Certificate Year IX and X students. The intention is to provide a relevant preparation for
the information age to the great majority of year IX and X students who will become
computer users rather than computer scientists. It can be taken as an elective subject in
either the science or the Humanities group. To avoid potential overlap, it cannot be taken
with SSC Computer Science.

Meaning of ICT
The concept of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has emerged only
recently, since the creation of the internet. Before this we talked about Information
Technology: that was the use of computers to process data and text. The act of
communicating was carried out face to face, over the telephone or through the postal
system. Traditional media like newspaper, radio and TV catered for local audiences
rather than global ones.

However Information and Communication Technology involves a greater diversity of
activities including

•   storing and processing of all kinds of information in digital form
•   communicating it over telephone lines or radio links
•   the use of computers by individuals at work and at home.
•   the launch of the internet, linking computers and their users together in a global

The coming together of these innovations is known as convergence. Convergence
enables traditional and less costly computers along with telecommunication devices like
telephones, satellites, radios and TVs and networks (internet, mobile telephone
networks) to work together locally, regionally and globally to share and exchange
content or information. The combination of these technologies is called ICT.

The New syllabus of ICT was developed keeping in mind the simple curriculum process
presented by Weeler (1974, pg 31).

    1. The selection of aims, goals, and objectives
    2. The selections of the learning experience to achieve these aims, goals and
    3. The selection of the content(subject matter)
    4. The organization and integration of learning experiences and content with respect
       to the teaching –learning process within school and classrooms
    5. Evaluation

Selection of Objectives:
Converting general aims to particular objectives is a major task. The objectives are
intended to provide students with a maximum of practical guidance, drawing upon their
own experience.

Technology is best learned within the context of applications. Activities, projects and
problems that replicate real-life situations are effective resources for learning technology.
Students can learn that although technology is often complex, it is simply "a way of
doing things".

Students will already know about the impact of technologies in their lives and
workplaces. They should know how to determine which processes, tools and techniques
to use, and when to use them. In particular they should be able to use and apply a variety
of information and communication technologies to problem solving, decision making,
inquiring and researching in the context of other subject matter.

Advanced technologies are more pervasive today than they have ever been, and their uses
are expanding continually. ICT is significantly enhancing and altering human activity,
and enabling us to live, work and think in ways that most of us never thought possible.
Since ICT has an increasingly significant impact, and such broad implications for
everyone—individuals, groups and entire nations—students must be prepared to
understand, use and apply it in effective, efficient and ethical ways.
Content of ICT syllabus:

“The school curriculum is not neutral knowledge, rather, what counts as legitimate
knowledge is the result of complex power relations, struggles, and compromises
among identifiable class, race, gender, and religious groups”. (Apple, 1992:4)
In Pakistan curriculum planning is in the hands of the Federal Government. The Federal
Education Ministry appoints a panel of educationalists. The members usually belong to
higher educational institutes and the personnel of the education ministry (National
Curriculum for Class IX and X, Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Education.). There
is no representation of any practising school teachers. In contrast to the ministry’s
approach AKU-EB carried the development forward, by establishing a panel, which
included professionals drawn from a range of different reputed organizations.
Representatives from a software house and a hardware company were there to
recommend on the topics related to applications. Representative from an IT University
was there to advise on required future needs of students to pursue their career in ICT.
Two secondary school practising teachers contributed towards learning objectives of a
particular age group (14-16 years), methodology and material requirements in schools.

It was decided to hold the panel meetings twice a month. In the first meeting the existing
Computer Science syllabus was looked at carefully and topics were identified that could
be the part of the new syllabus. There was an offer from a software company to use the
ready made course modules in the syllabus but the idea was rejected to discourage the use
of brand names in the syllabus. It was decided that international syllabuses should be
consulted for the development of the new syllabus. The syllabuses which were developed
for the age group of 14 to 16 year old students were selected for consultation as the new
syllabus is intended for the same age group(class IX and X).
Fig. 1 lists the names of the syllabuses consulted.

       Fig. 1 Syllabuses consulted for the ICT syllabus

     S.NO Syllabus                                        Date of
     1.      Syllabus “INFORMATICS” WA012 /               1999
             Matriculation Division Ministry of
             Education Malaysia,
     2.      “Computer Applications For Lower             1999
             Secondary”, Normal (Technical) Course
             Curriculum Planning & Division,
             Ministry of Education, Singapore,
     3..     “International Computer Driving              1999
             syllabus version 3.0 EDCL Foundation
             107 The Windmill, Sir John Rogerson’s
             Quay Dublin 2, Ireland,
     4.      UNESCO/ IFIP Curriculum---                   2000
             Information and Communication
             Technology in Secondary Education.

The Malaysian syllabus for Matriculation program has been used since 1999. It consists
of two sections. Part one contains Introduction to Computers along with Application
Packages -Word Processing, Electronic Spreadsheet, Presentation software and Database
and a chapter on Internet and Contemporary Issues. Part two is about Multimedia.

The Computer Application syllabus in Singapore is for Lower Secondary classes and has
been implemented since 1999. Some of the main topics of the syllabus are:

Introduction to computers; Basic computer operations; word processing; Multimedia
presentation and computers in every day life and the internet

The International Computer Driving syllabus version 3.0 has been in use since 1999. It
consists of the essential concepts of Information Technology along with application
packages. There is a module of information and communication in the syllabus.

 The “Information and Communication Technology in Secondary Education” syllabus
developed by UNESCO consists of several modules, covering the use of ICT in daily life
in a competent and intelligent way. Topics include: basic concepts of ICT, using
computers and managing files, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, creating
presentations, finding information and communicating with ICT, social and ethical
issues, and jobs using ICT.

The consultation of the international syllabuses took almost five meetings and after lots
of debate and deliberation decision was reached on the topics and the subtopics for the
new syllabus. In the next two meetings specific learning objectives were written down
along with identification of each of the topics and subtopics in appropriate cognitive
domain. One meeting time was used for planning of teaching –learning approaches and
class room activity. In the next three meetings the panelists worked on the recommended
text, references material and websites. There is no textbook recommended at this stage.
Areas for development of learning material were identified. Another two meetings were
held to work on and decide the practical activities and the criteria of project assessment.
The ICT draft syllabus development took almost a year to complete.

Specific learning objectives
The AKU-EB syllabuses are designed to make it easy for teachers to follow. Once topics
were identified specific learning objectives were written down. The specific objectives
are derived using Bloom’s taxonomy in a cognitive domain consisting of knowledge,
understanding and application. Since ICT is a “hands on experience” subject, the majority
of the specific learning objectives fall under Application or “Practical”. Each specific
learning objective begins with a command word such as list, describe, relate, explain, etc.
The purpose of the command words is to direct the attention of teachers and students to
specific tasks that the students are expected to undertake during the course of study.

The definitions of the command words are also provided in the syllabus under a separate
heading. The definitions will be helpful to teachers during lesson planning and classroom

Scheme of Examination
Measurement of change in behavior represents the success or failure of the educational
enterprise. In formal education certain behaviors are expected. Students must demonstrate
that they have acquired knowledge, the skills, and the attitudes that were intended to
begin with.

The specific learning objectives will provide guidance in deriving test items, both
objective and constructed response questions. The number of SLOs falling under each
cognitive level is providing a base to the allocation of marks for each topic or section of
the syllabus. The marks allocated are distributed over the Objective and Constructed
Response papers and a portfolio of particular work.

The examination of ICT is divided into three sections. Since ICT is a practical subject
and 50% of the Specific learning objectives belong to application.

1. Theory exam: 60%
2. Practical (internal assessment): 15%
3. Project: 25%

Evaluation of the syllabus
In order to assure the quality of curriculum, its evaluation is necessary. Evaluation is
implied at every step of planning and it determines the merit of the program.
The theory of Evaluation Decision making model fits here the best. (Saylor, 1981, pg.

The evaluation was limited to the ICT syllabus content.

Evaluation model used in ICT syllabus development
A national Phi Delta Kappa Committee developed a new approach towards formative
evaluation, known as the decision making model. The evaluation is defined as “the
process of delineating, obtaining and providing useful information for judging decision
alternatives” (Saylor, p322) There are four stages of program operation. Each of the
stages has the following steps of process evaluation.

1. The determination of what is to be evaluated.
2. The kind of data needed in making these decisions.
3. The collection of these data.
4. Defining criteria for determining the quality of the matter being evaluated
5. Analysis of the data in terms of these criteria.
6. Providing information for decision –makers.

The decision making model was used for product evaluation of ICT syllabus. The data
was collected to judge the content and revise the document to include or exclude any
topics or subtopics to meet the needs of majority of students.

Fig. 2: Evaluation of ICT syllabus using Decision Making Model

Model      Who          Major audience     Assume         Methods          Nature of          Outcome
           conducts                        consensus                       information
Decision AKU-EB         Representatives    Selected       questionnaire    Suggestions        Quality
making                  from software      Content                         Regarding          control
                        houses                                             topics and         ( topics to
                        Hardware                                           subtopics of       be kept or
                        personal                                           ICT                omit)
                        IT institutes

Once the draft of ICT syllabus was ready, the topics and the subtopics were compared
with the other international syllabuses. The fig.3 shows the commonalities between the
new ICT syllabus and the other international syllabuses.

          Fig. 3 Comparison between AKU-EB and the other international
                A. Informatics WA012 / WS022 Malaysia 1999
                B. Application for lower Sec. Singapore 1999
                C. International Computer Driving License 1999
                D. UNESCO/IFIP ICT in Secondary Education International 2000

                  AKU-EB ICT syllabus 2005                         A      B      C        D

    1. Basic concepts of ICT
      1.1 Computer as a System

        2.3 CPU: Arithmetic logic Unit, control Unit,
        2.5 Output devices: Monitors and printers
6.Classification of Computers
    6.1 Main frame. Mini computers, PC’s and handheld
9. Network
   9.1 Local and external (LAN and WAN)
       • Components of network
       • Telephonic network in computing
       • Modem, telephone connection, servers
       • E-mail
10. Using computer and managing files
     10.1 Getting started
           • Help functions
     10.2 Graphical User Interface or Desktop
           • Icons
           • Organizing Files
           • Copy, Move, Delete
           • Searching
           • Print management
           • Local or wide area network
11. Application Software
    11.1 Word Processing
    11.2 Presentation Software
    • Creating graphics
    11.3 Electronic Spreadsheet
   11.4 Data Base
   2.6 Peripheral devices: modem, fax-machine,
      plotter, scanner, digital cameras
   1.2 Processing cycle: Input, processor, output

12. Information Networks:
13. Communication

  5.2 Computers at work
7. Storage
    7.1 Memory storage devices Internal and external
    7.2 Types of Memory: ROM and RAM
8. Application Software
   8.1 Systems Software/Operating Systems
   7.3 Measurement of memory: bits, bytes, KB, MB,
        GB and Terabyte
5. Computers in every day life
   5.1 Computers at home
       Hobbies, household, accounts, working from
          home , projects and homework, use of E-mail and
          the net
     14. Web Site Designing
         • HTML
       1.3 Data, information
       2.2 Microprocessors

As seen in Fig.3 around 18 topics and subtopics are common among all the syllabuses.
The common topics comprise of basic concepts of computers and Application packages.
It is important to know the dates of development for the consulted syllabus. The
Malaysian and Singapore syllabuses were developed in 1999. They are in fact
Information Technology syllabuses. They both have Multimedia as an important
component. The Malaysian syllabus is the only one to have web page development using
html. In the other three syllabuses topic of Web site designing is limited to searching and
navigation. The UNESCO syllabus was developed in 2000 and is the latest among all the
consulted syllabuses. It caters the skill needs of the students along with basic knowledge
of computer systems. It does not contain any technical details of the computer
components. Its objective is to encourage student to consider a career in ICT.

The AKU-EB covers almost all the sub-topics in the other syllabuses except those which
are outdated e.g. formatting of Disks.

The ICT syllabus was circulated among various organizations and institutes including.
      • Employers Associations
      • Hardware and software houses
      • Renowned universities in Karachi.

Fig.4 Summary of feed back from different organizations new ICT syllabus

General Comments               Suggestions for inclusion of    Suggestions for exclusion of topics/
                               topics/ subtopics               subtopics
 •   An excellent syllabus       • concept of Blogs,             • Advance features of MS office

 •   A relevant syllabus             Vikipedia                   •   Internet concepts and

 •   Useful for any modern       •   examples of popular             equipment

     and state of the art            sites e.g. Google,          •   Comparison of new and old

     organization                    Yahoo and Google map            technology
                                •   Binary switch and           •   Web site designing

                                    translators                 •   graphical composing

                                •   Peripheral devices:

                                    USB flash drive, CD-R,

                                    CD-RW, DVD-R /RWI

                                    Processor speed, RAM

                                    bus speed like KHz,


                                •   Define IBM PCs

                                    compatible PCs,

                                •   Intel,

                                •   Athlone processor


Fig. 4 shows different responses regarding the syllabus. As seen in the table, there are
four subtopics which need to be included. There are about five topics which are
recommended to be excluded for the reason of time limit (academic year) being
unnecessary at Secondary level.

The AKU-EB syllabus covers more topics than in any other syllabus. It has been
developed keeping in mind the requirements of the present day generation. Effort has
been made to include the latest issues and developments in the computer world. The
syllabus is culture fair and language free, very much in association with the global

The AKU-EB draft ICT syllabus has been developed giving importance to all the
necessary elements that are necessary to communicate with the computer on –line with
sources of information as well with other people using the network. The ICT syllabus
will be finalized by the panelists in the light of recommendations and suggestions from
the consulted agencies. Then only it can be categorized as a good syllabus. And lastly it
will always be opened for evaluation once in practice.

1. Taba, Hilda. 1962 ,Curriculum and Development; Theory and Practice, New York,

Harcourts, Brace & World Inc.

2. Murray, Print. 1993, Curriculum Development and Design, St. Leonards, Allan and


3. Frymier, Jack. 1970, Curriculum improvement for better School , Worthington, Ohio,

Charles Publishing Co.

4. Doll, Rolland. 1982. Curriculum Improvement :Decision Making and Processs,

Boston, Allyn and Baton, Inc.

5. Weeler D. K.1974. Curriculum Process. London, University of London Press.

6. _MAP. Peg

7. www.


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