Learning to code allows students to be creative with technology, to develop logical thinking and problem-solving and mathematical skills, as well as analytical and computational thinking.
Digital literacy is now the fourth pillar of a child’s education alongside reading, writing and mathematics, and now is the time for Australian education providers to have the tools necessary to provide an understanding of digital literacy to their students.
Following the introduction of coding and Digital Technologies to the school curriculum in Victoria, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes recently announced that coding will be compulsory in NSW Primary Schools by term 1 2019.
With the Regional Australia Institute forecasting that 1 in 2 Australian jobs will require high-level programming, coding and software skills in 2030, there is a growing appreciation of the merit in teaching students these digital skills from a young age.
After much development, the new Digital Technologies within the Australian curriculum presents a significant opportunity for the next generation of Australian children to develop skill and mastery in the design and creation of technology, to position Australia as internationally competitive.
In teaching children algorithmic languages to code and create programs, teachers will need to not only teach them not just how to work a computer, but how a computer works, and how to make it work for them.
The Digital Technologies curriculum aims to teach students to “design, create, manage and evaluate sustainable and innovative digital solutions to meet and redefine current and future needs,” with a host of real world applications.
Indeed, while economics is a major justification for the introduction of coding, others say a moral obligation exists to properly prepare children for the technology-focused world and job-market they will inherit.
With the world changing fast, schools and teachers are having to catch up. It’s because of this rapid change that leading educational events like the upcoming National Education Summit are making coding a key pillar of their events.
Running from 31 August – 1 September at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, the National Education Summit is made up of conferences, masterclasses and The Education Show, a FREE trade expo featuring 100+ leading businesses and organisations exhibiting the latest resources, services, products and technology.
Educators can sign up to attend the Summit’s Literacy Conference where experts from Griffith University and Victoria University will deliver workshop style sessions aimed at providing strategies to implement activity based learning and coding literacy in the classroom.
In the session Coding Literacy as a Real Thing, Professor Chris Walsh, Vice President of the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA), will share his expertise in which approaches work best for teaching introductory programming.
He is an expert in strategies for teaching coding literacy without technology, with robots and with mobile devices and popular apps.
In the session he will explore how teachers can include coding literacy, with and without technology, through hands‐on inquiry‐based projects for early years and primary classrooms:
Australia is in the tail wind of others forward-thinking countries such as Estonia where coding has been taught since 2012 and the UK where it has been taught as part of its national curriculum since September 2014.
Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece included coding in their schools prior to 2015 and, more recently, it’s also been introduced in, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore.
Students around the world are recognising that as the demand for digitally literate graduates is bound to increase, it’s time to get with the program.
In UK in 2016 a survey of 1000 13-17 year olds found that 18% of school students are now coding, which was more than double the 7% in 2013.
The Gender split narrowed significantly with 48% of those being girls. Also, 41% are taking a qualification in a computer science subject, with 52% (of which 45% are girls) saying they would make ICT and computer sciences mandatory.
Crucially, for Australia to be globally competitive, the choices made in high-quality learning and teaching materials will be fundamental to ensuring successful implementation of our Digital Technologies program.
The Resource Review and Report: Coding Across the Curriculum commissioned by The Australian Commonwealth in 2015 identified the landscape of Computer Science resources, and directly informed the current curation and creation of resources for the Coding Across the Curriculum Program.
Teachers will face a new set of challenges as they will be required to design assignments and projects that marry digital technologies with key learning outcomes in their subjects.
In learning computational thinking students will be learning a new language, and as with any language the aim is fluency.
Here, fluency is the difference between writing and merely reading, so that students can express their own original ideas. And as with reading, so too is coding not an end in itself, but a means to further learning.
Not only will programming be essential to school students’ future jobs in software and IT, but also industries as varied as carpentry, electrical work, administration and bookkeeping, sales, hospitality, engineering, architecture and aviation. It’s said even aspects of legal work will soon be automated, so even law students at university level are being advised to supplement their studies with programming subjects.
To register for tickets to the National Education Summit head to www.nationaleducationsummit.com.au (group bookings available)
What: National Education Summit
Where: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Convention Centre Pl, South Wharf VIC 3006
When: Friday 31 August – September 1, 2018
More Info: www.nationaleducationsummit.com.au