Food security was defined by the United Nations in 1948 as a basic human right. For many governments and world organisations, ensuring ‘digital skills security’ – having access to the required skills training, sufficient and safe access to the digital world – may be the new challenge of our time!
The rapid evolution of digital technologies and big data is transforming our personal and professional lives. We are living through an unprecedented digital revolution with the potential to impact the economic prosperity of people in all corners of the world. In the UK, for example, 30% of all current jobs will be affected by advancements in automation by the early 2030s. We are set for a huge, technology driven, shake up in the decades to come. The question is, are we ready for this? Will we be ahead of the technological curve or behind it in the years ahead?
Given the incredible digital backdrop to virtually all aspects of modern life, education has never felt so important; in providing that range of skills and understanding necessary to survive in – indeed thrive in – the new digital world and economies. As a recent and widely publicised report from the UK’s Royal Society put it, ‘Computing education must enable young people to keep up with the pace of technological change so that they can remain effective, well informed and safe citizens’ (see royalsociety.org/computing-education).
The challenge for governments, industries, relevant non-profit organisations and educational bodies is to encourage a comprehensive and sustainable digital skills set which will safeguard peoples’ livelihoods and national prosperity as we move further into the 21st century.
All governments have their work cut out to meet this challenge. In England 11% of students took Computer Science at GCSE in the 2016/17 academic year, and only 5% of Computer Science graduates are currently working in education. However, things are beginning to change here in the UK and elsewhere around the world.
A new National Curriculum for Computing, launched in the UK at the end of 2013, aims to vastly improve digital literacy in British schools, creating a generation much more able to ‘use and express themselves and develop their ideas through information and communication technology at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world’.
One key focus of the new curriculum is the ability to apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, and there is no shortage of ambition in the new requirements provided to schools around, for example, the teaching of coding.
Students at Primary Key Stage 1 (5-6 years old) are now expected to be able to ‘create and debug simple programmes’ and by the time they are studying in Secondary Key Stage 3 (11-13 years old) they must be able to ‘use two or more programming languages … to undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices’.
This is a hugely ambitious approach to facilitating the delivery of 21st century digital life skills in schools and we are seeing similar initiatives in many countries around the world, as recognition of the importance of Computing education for future economic and social prosperity grows. An emerging ambition around the world, driven by new national curricula and standards, is to move students away from being merely passive consumers of software packages. The intention is for students to be active producers of new and innovative Computing artefacts; to truly have the skills and understanding to change the world, to create the next M-Pesa (the micro-payment platform which has taken parts of Africa by storm in the last 10 years, supported small businesses and is lauded for helping reduce poverty) or Seeing AI application (the free narration software helping to transform the lives of those with visual impairments).
A grand ambition indeed. But can it be realised? Well, according to The Royal Society’s 2017 report After the reboot: computing education in UK schools there are significant challenges still to overcome, for example around addressing the significant gender imbalance in Computing, increasing uptake at Level 2 (GCSE), recruiting and supporting the school teachers tasked with delivering such a new set of digital skills to their students. Indeed, nearly half of all secondary teachers in the UK surveyed by The Royal Society only felt confident teaching the lower stages of the new Computing curriculum, with nearly a quarter indicating they had not undertaken and professional development related to Computing within the last year.
The need to support schools in the UK and internationally with the implementation of a new Computer Science focused curriculum, and especially to provide supporting resources for teachers in their day to day classes, is being addressed by NCC Education.
Launched in 2017, NCC Education’s Digi programmes align with the National Curriculum for Computing (for ages 5 – 16 years) and allow schools to effortlessly deliver up to date Computing classes, covering digital literacy, online safety, computational thinking and coding. All student and teacher resources are provided to our partner schools, together with supplementary online material, certification, assessment and qualifications at each key stage.
The digital revolution is here? Are we ready? We believe Digi students around the world will answer a resounding and confident ‘yes!’.
Find out more about the English National Computing curriculum at www.gov.uk . Read The Royal Society full report at www.royalsociety.org/computing-education and take a closer look at NCC Educations fantastic new Digi programmes by exploring our Digi website here at www.studydigi.com