Two years ago as an English teacher I was in talks with a school in Hong Kong. What struck me most was their attitude towards technology in education. They banned the use of iPads in the classroom, believing that technology was hindering the learning process.
I never went to work with that school. I thought they had outdated teaching methods that were not in line with current trends. Ultimately, technology can enhance the learning process.
In recent years there has been a dramatic shift in education, from the growth of Chromebooks in the educational sector and even devices such as the Raspberry Pi, and the Microbit encouraging programming even for younger learners. There have been cases where gaming, particularly Minecraft can have a role to play in the classroom.
Education: Programming languages and hardware
There has been a number of innovations that have changed the approach to technology. Since the introduction of small customisable boards like the Raspberry Pi, it has started a revolution if not just software development but hardware. No more was a computer something fixed, but a piece of hardware that the user can modify. And this is where programming comes in.
The BBC micro: bit is starting to change the way we think about this relationship between programming and hardware. Essentially this tiny computer is a programmable micro board. It is the ideal starting point for younger learners. This board with a tiny led display can introduce younger learners and older to the concept of programming intro hardware. This tiny device starts learners off with blocks before progressing onto Java.
Those who progress can unleash its true potential with Python, known as Micro Python. A specific small-scale version of the programming language.
Why is programming so important to education?
Programming is the future, and everyone needs to be learning it. Technology has made its way into almost every industry. The forthcoming electric car revolution is part of that. Another probably is that technology has a major diversity problem.
The solution to that problem might be to get the kids of today engaged in and develop their programming skills. Perhaps this way, the technology industry will have a larger pool of talent. It will at least cure one stumbling block in improving the diversity in tech.