THE BLOG

To Infinity and Beyond: VR and Code Your Classroom for a Better Workforce

21/01/2015 16:56 GMT | Updated 22/03/2015 09:59 GMT

It's all very well moaning today's graduates are lacking the skills required to enter the workplace - It's not rocket science but you've got to skill them up earlier and watching my own kids take to new technology confirmed it for me.

So we ran a coding course for the kids of staff at HeathWallace - girls and boys aged between 6 - 10 yrs. They really got it very quickly and engaged with it. We started with a deck that we used as a base but the real fun started when we got them to build their own mini(on) website. It was interesting to see how they got to grips with the fundamentals of code and instruction.

Ian Livingstone, one the fathers of the UK gaming industry and the man behind Tomb Raider, made the same point last week. He said that kids should be taught coding in schools as he believes it can train the mind in the same way that Latin does. He's right: today's children are wired differently and we need to harness their creativity and coding is one way to do that.

So why not try challenge based apps with your kids - like CodeQuest, The Foos and Tynker which might spark off their imaginations.

But we didn't just stop at coding, we let them try out Oculus Rift VR headsets and experience the magic of virtual reality, and they loved it. They shouted out commands at the headsets, which was interesting to me as there are so few voice-based systems, which they use on a day-today basis.

We found is that the age of 10 does seem to be the prime age to get started. The 6- 8 year olds were interested but the 10 year olds really embraced it and got the whole concept. VR really is the most exciting thing to enter a classroom and the education opportunities are endless. I'm convinced that if we had more VR sets available for kids, then we'd have a more engaged digital workforce. I'm looking forward to seeing more 'immersive education' in the classroom with game based learning and VR is rolled out.

But it's not just VR, we also had a careers outreach into one of our local secondary school in Reading. The quality of these GCSE and A Level students was extraordinary. Our outreach focused on web development and UX. Most of the kids were instinctively interested in the former but less into the user experience. Fundamentally, more needs to be done to get youngsters thinking about UX earlier and this is where there's still a dearth of skills. So on the one hand, getting kids into coding earlier is excellent, however it shouldn't be at the cost of other skills. Lessons learnt: get em early.

Top free online coding courses:

1. Code Academy

2. The Khan Academy

3. Coursera

4. Google University Consortium

5. Udacity

MORE: