So you didn’t learn this at school?! Well, how about the next generation?

In one of my former posts, I wrote about my opinion on ICT (Information and Communication Technology) education in schools. Because this is a topic with a high future value, I did some research and tried to find out what experts say on this matter. Especially in Great Britain, there is a high level of discussion going on about how and what to teach students.

Educational experts‘ opinions:

 „Computer skills are the grammar of the 21st century knowing how a computer works ‘on a par with a knowledge of the arts and humanities. We are all going to live a digital life. Just as we write well and read well, I think that if you have even a basic understanding of computer coding, it will help you understand the structure of your digital life.”, claims Ed Vaizy

Therefore one can assume that the experts on this field don’t doubt the fact that ICT education is important, but don’t come to a consensus on how to implement it.  One of the big discussion points is what is really essential to teach children about technology: Having the newest technology in the classroom or having trained teachers that are actually able to convey the necessary expertise?

You see rooms full of software [in schools], but are they using the architecture of the computer and learning how to programme? Rather than focusing on what is going into the classroom, the focus should be on the quality of the teaching. Any international study will show that this is more important.” Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss, a vocal critic of the English education system.

However, Labour’s Kevin Brennan, a former minister in both the Department for Business and the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said that preventing pupils from having the equipment “can have a direct [inverse] link with their attainment“.

As long as such basic points are still up for discussion, it is no wonder that the development of efficient ICT classes is slow. I for my case would approve of a compromise, although from my experience it is always important to have qualified teachers. Because at the end, it’s their chance to make even a dry topic interesting. Our last accounting teacher was so well structured and well prepared that he made his class really fun, a thing nobody would have expected at the beginning of the semester. So I would strongly emphasize on skilled teachers, but obviously you need the appropriate technology to be able to teach the children something that is at least somewhat up to date.

Companies’ opinions:

Last August Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, publicly attacked the UK saying it would throw away “great computer heritage” by failing to teach programming in schools. With this one can see, that not only educational specialists, but also the managers of big companies are engaged in the discussion of ICT education. These firms voice their problems of finding qualified employees and therefore are strongly pressuring the schools to teach more ICT skills.

Wright, of Mercedes AMG Petronas, said: “The lack of good candidates meant his firm had to make compromises, devoting time to training people up in maths or software skills. The transformation of businesses by the internet has increased the need for senior staff to be skilled at using new technology.”

Kim Blake, the events and education co-ordinator for Blitz Games Studio has made these experiences:

We do really struggle to recruit in some areas; the problem is often not the number of people applying, which can be quite high, but the quality of their work.We accept that it might take a while to find a really good Android programmer or motion graphics artist, as these are specialist roles which have emerged relatively recently – but this year it took us several months to recruit a front-end web developer. Surely those sorts of skills have been around for nearly a decade now? Programmers of sufficient quality remain hard to find in all their varieties, whether it’s tools specialists, game-play programmers, audio programmers, network programmers.”

This strong criticism of young adults’ ICT skills shows that something really has to change in the interest of employers as well as future employees. Firms are dependent on qualified workers and people want to find a good job and at least after 4 years of college should be able to say that they possess the demanded skills.

 If you are as interested in this topic as I am, you might want to look into this great talk of Anthony Salcito.

Here is a little list I found on programming, maybe it will help you to foster your abilities further!

Developer’s tips

• The process of creating the instructions for a computer is called “programming”. You write the instructions out in a programming language – and there are many different kinds to choose from.

• Choose a programming language to match your context, for example: learn Objective-C to make iPhone apps and JavaScript for interactive web pages.

• If you are having problems doing something, break it down into small problems that are easy to describe. Then put each description into a search engine – you’ll find a wealth of information on possible solutions online.

• The best way to learn how to program is by programming. Find a good tutorial online or in your bookshop and read it, but always produce real working programs and websites alongside it to practise your new skills.

Tips provided by Kenneth Lim, Guardian software developer

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2 responses to “So you didn’t learn this at school?! Well, how about the next generation?

  1. Pingback: Retrospect #4 : Slowing it down | BLOG OR DIE TRYIN'·

  2. Thumbs up,Alex!
    I totally agree with you and Ed Vaizy “Computer skills are the grammar of the 21st century”. And with the help of your blog post, I succeeded in understanding the problem of implementing ICT: Senior teachers do not know about ICT and aren’t able to teach students in that area. As those students don’t know then about ICT, they won’t become ICT teachers. It seems to me as a kind of vicious circle. So you rightly pointed out: Something has to change!
    Anyhow, your post provided me with a nice overview as it is clearly structured. Moreover, you made a great choice when adding some expert’s opinions.
    All in all, thank you for calling my attention to this important topic!

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