Content suggestions for Computer Applications Technology


With the progress of technology, the social speed of the ‘webosphere’ and the sheer pace at which tech knowledge grows, it makes sense that the Computer Applications Technology curriculum grows and progresses too.

I look at what we teach at the moment and where the tech really is and I think that there are some things we should be teaching as part of a ‘new curriculum’.

So, if any subject advisors are reading this post…here are my suggestions:

HTML+CSS+Javascript

CAPs saw teachers learning and teaching basic  HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Although a learning curve for many teachers, after teaching it they found that it wasn’t so bad and also very, very basic! I believe you can actually teach all of the HTML required by Grade 10, quite easily.

HTML in itself is only useful for basic structure. You cannot call it ‘web design’, seriously. It is only just a markup language as the name implies and allows for very basic formatting and layout of static content. It is a necessary foundation and good introduction to web site design and development. But, it’s not enough. Students want MORE!

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) [version3] added to the mix and you’re already making magic! CSS allows for so much more creativity, interactivity and the eye-candy that so many users have grown accustomed to. In fact, the entire premise of a web site is that content and design should be separate – content (html) on the one side and CSS controlling it from a linked stylesheet.

Javascript takes the whole web design thing one level higher, not just in terms of creativity and interactivity but also the thinking skills required for a successful Javascript-infused site.

Javascript is as close to programming that a CAT student will get to. With so many Javascript libraries and repositories online, it is easy for the student to take existing code, use it, manipulate it and learn from it.

My suggestion:

  • Grade 10 – HTML (all of it)
  • Grade 11 – HTML and CSS
  • Grade 12 – Some basic Javascript to put on top of the HTML and CSS done in previous grades

Application Development

Now, one might argue that this would be the domain of the Information Technology department. But I beg to differ. With a very basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, creating a mobile app for Android or iOS is actually not that difficult.

Most software for development of mobile apps is OSS and easily accessible. Basic app frameworks are available to use. It’s really much easier these days for almost anyone to create their own mobile device application.

My suggestion:

A basic task where the students learn (after doing HTML and some basic CSS) to create an app that meets a need or solves a problem, or just brings a smile to someone’s face! Creating a mobile app brings together not only design and coding skills, but also allows for discussion of human behaviour and technology and cause us to look at the ethical issues surrounding the use of technology in all areas of life. I would choose Android as the platform as it’s easier to get apps online and the software to create apps is open source. Apple are…well…not so open.

Future Technology Studies

Why not? If any subject should be engaged with the path of technology and its effect on society and humanity, it should be Computer Applications Technology (if not Information Technology as well).

It is super exciting to see where we have come from, in terms of technology, and how the human race has been affected by it. It’s just as fascinating to watch where tech is taking us on planet earth (and beyond!).

We should be looking at things like:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • The Internet of Things
  • 3D Printing and the possibilities
  • New social issues caused by technology
  • Space travel and the colonisation of other planets (might sound crazy right now, but remember how they made fun of Da Vinci’s ideas!)

Death to MS Access!

I‘d like to suggest we put to death Microsoft Access and focus more higher-level skills in PowerPoint including the integration of other applications within PowerPoint. The Microsoft Office Student Edition doesn’t even include Access so how are the students supposed to use it at home to practice? What is the possible benefit of having done MS Access in school besides the thinking skills in terms of databasing (which could be taught in other ways anyway)?

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