Student on A-level ICT: "I don't want to learn about floppy disks anymore"

Following the A-level results announcement today, student David Couch has been in touch with Computer Weekly about his experience of IT A-levels.

Currently studying at the University of Kent, David recently won a GlaxoSmithKline-sponsored ‘Intern of the Year’ award following a year-long placement at Intel.

But his A-level ICT included designing a brochure for an animal park and learning about out-dated floppy disks. David says IT courses aren’t keeping up with industry developments and advancements in technology – let alone the kids.

David said:

“I’m not too sure how far A-level prepared me for working in IT. I took the ICT A-level and noticed it was more about how to make attractive presentations or fancy fliers. I think it would have been more of a kick-start if it had included more useful topics for computer students.

Instead of making a brochure for an animal park, we could have started looking at the internals of a computer, or the basics of programming.

I was working on the school’s website in year 12 and I feel that helped me a lot more than the official classes.

I would say that IT has been made too general and there’s not enough in-depth information to keep those seriously looking into a computing job interested. At the same time, the courses don’t move fast enough to stay up-to-date with the technology.

That may be because they’re refreshed every four years or so, but is that really the best idea in a constantly moving industry? I don’t want to learn about floppy disks anymore.

Just look at the IT Crowd on TV. I love the show, but it’s all too often you encounter people who believe that’s actually the job of someone in IT.

I expected the same from [my placement at] Intel, working in a basement with everyone around me wearing big glasses and with fuzzy hair – but was very happily surprised. If an average person were to meet them outside of work, I doubt they’d expect them to be in IT. Maybe if more people got the chance to see the ‘less-geeky’ side of computing it may attract more young people.”