Michael Gove, UK education secretary, has finally done the right thing, and realised that IT education in England is ''demotivating and dull". Even better, he's gone one step further and announced an overhaul of the IT National Curriculum, which will focus on web design, computer programming and computer science to reflect today's technological needs.
It goes without saying - our lives are taking on a digital and technological element. We use our phones for virtually everything - from updating our Facebook to ordering our shopping from a major supermarket. We use our computers for writing a letter to producing the next Number 1 single. Our reliance on technology is ever-growing - I use my phone to tell my Sky+ box to record Holby City when I've forgotten to tell it myself (hell hath no fury if I missed an episode). Whether this is positive or negative has yet to be seen, but ultimately, it makes sense that we need a strong workforce to be able to maintain and evolve these technological advances.
I remember IT lessons at my school well. It was, in the most part, an opportunity to become proficient in bypassing school firewalls. Gaming hub MiniClip.com (banned under said firewalls) was hugely popular at the time, so my classmates and I would be covertly playing games whilst learning about Microsoft Excel formulas.
However, Free Bike and Club Penguin had a limited shelf life of being entertaining. Spending five years learning how to get Excel to do my maths homework for me just wasn't stimulating enough - but my teacher's skill sets didn't stretch further than the basics of Microsoft Windows. Upon leaving school, if there had been a job which focused solely on basic spreadsheet formulas, I would have been the front-running candidate.
My sister left school last year - six years after me. When I quizzed her on her experience of IT education, I was surprised to hear that it was very similar to mine, despite technology having moved on from Nokia 3210s and Gateway PCs. It's clear that whoever devised the current IT national curriculum had school-age children incorrectly pegged.
Kids these days are terrifyingly switched-on when it comes to technology. My two-year-old cousin surprised everyone at a recent family gathering when he took my iPhone from my hands and instinctively knew what to do with it. In contrast, it took several phone calls to my Dad to teach him how to send a text message on his newly purchased smartphone. The point is, older adults and children are generations apart when it comes to being tech-savvy, and this needs to be reflected in the changing IT curriculum.
The DfE (Department for Education) needs to seriously think about recruiting movers and shakers in technology industry to design and deliver the IT curriculum overhaul. No longer should it be left to a greying ICT teacher who probably thinks that C++ is a new academic grade.
David Cameron has championed and provided some investment to the so-called 'Silicon Roundabout' - an area in East London which is a designated hub for firms spearheading technological evolution. Without giving children a grounding in IT which reflects the needs of modern day society, Silicon Roundabout runs the risk of being little more than a ghost town in years to come.
Nick D'Aloisio, a 16-year-old student from London, developed an app that simplifies web search results. He received £150,000 investment to develop the app and told BBC News earlier this week that web design lessons in Year Nine initially sparked his interest in design and programming. It's evidence straight from the horse's mouth...you can't argue with it.
The more input we gain from technology frontrunners, the more likely it will be that children will receive an IT education that is relevant to them. We need to ensure that we are producing the next generation of technology specialists, designers and developers, rather than the current production line of Microsoft Office-proficient workers. The next generation - it needs to start at school.
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