We’re kicking off the next phase of our “Should everyone learn how to code?” project. This time around it’s a series of public workshops over late January and early February in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Western Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, and Adelaide. The purpose of the workshops is to try and create a mud-map describing what a digitally competent workforce might look like.
As the pitch goes…
Australia’s prosperity depends on equipping the next generation with the skills needed to thrive in a digital environment. But does this mean that everyone needs to learn how to code?
In the national series of round tables Deloitte Centre for the Edge and Geelong Grammar School hosted in 2016, the answer was “Yes, enough that they know what coding is.”
The greater concern, though, was ensuring that everyone is comfortable integrating digital tools into their work whatever that work might be, something that we termed ‘digital competence’. This concept was unpacked in an essay published earlier this year.
Now we’re turning our attention to the question: What does digital competence look like in practice, and how do we integrate it into the curriculum?
We are holding an invitation only workshop for industry and education to explore the following ideas:
- What are the attributes of a digitally competent professional?
- How might their digital competence change over their career?
- What are the common attributes of digital competence in the workplace?
- How might we teach these attributes?
If you’re interested in attending, or if you know someone who might be interested in attending, then contact me and we’ll add you to the list. Note that there’s only 24-32 places in each workshop and we want to ensure a diverse mix of people in each workshop, so we might not be able to fit everyone who’s interested, but we’ll do our best.
Over 2016-2017 Deloitte Centre for the Edge collaborated with Geelong Grammar School to run a national series of roundtables where we unpacked the common catchphrase “everyone should learn how to code” as we have noticed that there was no consensus on what ‘coding’ was, and it seemed to represent an aspiration more than a skill. We felt that the community had jumped from observation (digital technology is becoming increasingly important) to prescription (everyone should learn how to code) without considering what problem we actually wanted to solve.
What we found from the roundtables was interesting. First, yes, everyone should learn how to code a little, mainly to demystify it. Coding and computers are seen as something of a black art, and that shouldn’t be the case. A short compulsory coding course would also expose students to a skill and career that they might not have otherwise considered. However, the bigger problem lurking behind the catchphrase was the inability for many workers to productively engage with the technology. Many of us suffer from learned helplessness, where we’ve learnt that we need to use digital tools in particular ways to solve particular problems, and if we deviate from this then all manner of things go wrong. This needs to change.
The result of the roundtables were written up and published but Deloitte and Geelong Grammar School.
Centre for the Edge is dipping our toe into the education waters again after last years report, , Redefining Education. We’re collaborating with Geelong Grammar‘s School of Creative Education to look into “Does everyone need to learn how to code?”
Computers are at the heart of the economy, and coding is at the heart of computers. Australia’s prosperity depends on equipping the next generation with the skills they need to thrive in this environment, but does this mean that we need to teach everyone how to code? Coding has a proud role in digital technology’s past, but is it an essential skill in the future? Our relationship with technology is evolving and coding, while still important, is just one of the many new skills that will be required.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for the country’s schools to introduce IT skills to students much earlier than they do now, suggesting that children as young as five or six should be introduced to coding. President Obama affirmed the need for coding education in his final state of the nation address. Some educators, however, are already pointing out that that teaching coding on its own might not be enough.
We will be holding a series of round table discussions across Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in May 2016 to explore the following questions:
- What is the intention behind “we need to teach everyone to code”?
- What educational and social outcomes we should be striving for?
- Are there key skills from “learning to code” not covered in the current curriculum?
- Is there a better definition for digital literacy?
- How does digital literacy relate to coding and the rest of computer science?
- How do we demystify digital technology and bring the community along?
Please contact me if you are interested in participating.
To code or not to code, is that the question?
Image: Ruiwen Chua.