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Britain has an opportunity to reinvent how it teaches information technology


A recent editorial in the Guardian newspaper wrote that Britain is in danger of producing a generation that doesn’t know how Google works. As such, the editorial states that this is a prime opportunity to overhaul the education system and bring information technology education into the 21st century.

Is North America any better? Maybe a little. Our kids know to how to download an app or a song and we’ve raised them to think of Google as a verb as much as a company, but are we providing them with the right tools to invent the next Google?

In the current and old system, kids learn how to use specific programs, but what does that do when the essential programs completely change every few years? Schools should instead be teaching information systems.

“A new syllabus truly fit for 21st-century purpose won’t necessarily look like education of old – something the government has acknowledged in the openness of its consultation process, and talk of “wiki-style” content. But… as yet no robust intellectual or organisational framework for what precisely the future of information technology teaching should constitute.”

Do we start with computing fundamentals? Algorithms and heuristics and coding and computational problem-solving, which all sound more complicated than they actually are. Maybe we just start with straight-up problem solving. And the value of learning from your experience.

These are things that can be taught in all aspects of a kid’s life and then applied to tech stuff. There’s no way of knowing what the next big thing in information technology’s going to be and where it’ll come from. As it says in the editorial, “The ultimate test, though, will be whether we can give the next generation the tools and understanding with which they’ll build the Googles and Facebooks of the future.”

Photo by Paul Goyette via Flickr

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