Tag Archives: digital skills

Education Work

The answer to the UK’s looming digital skills crisis might be more obvious than you think

For every looming economic crisis, there’s a reinvention, and these days it’s always the same one.  Each time fiscal armageddon looms there’s a minister suggesting that the economy will simply restructure itself (somehow), and these days the answer is always (always) that the tech economy will set the country afloat again. That the UK will be a tech-hub driving the globe’s innovation.

But that reflotation may well be heading for an iceberg. A set of problems both self-inflicted and structural.

Coadec, the self-styled ‘policy voice’ of the UK’s start-ups is warning this week, convincingly, it has to be said, that there is a ‘triple whammy’ ahead, creating a huge skills crisis in the UK’s tech industry, which will mean 2.8 million unfilled vacancies for digitally skilled workers, over a quarter of them software developers.

  • A critical fall-off in the STEM skills of the population, due to lack of funding (the structural)
  • Visa restrictions, which will emerge from the withdrawal from the Single Market, meaning fewer skilled specialists from overseas.
  • Those same overseas specialists affected by the uncertainty of Brexit and liable to move to tech-literate countries which feel more stable.

Coadec is assuming the latter two issues (the self-inflicted) are too big for it to take or (or, at least, need to be left to Mr Blair), and the issue of STEM education is largely one of funding. So good luck with that.

So what next? Well, the chances are that at least part of the answer could be sitting right by you. They’re called ‘women’. You may have heard of them. And it’s time they were a much bigger part of the UK’s tech sector.

As it stands, 4% of gaming programmers are women. As are seven of the of the world’s top 100 tech billionaires. In 2015, women held 57% of all professional occupations, but only 25% of all computing occupations. The only place where women get involved in coding on anything like an equitable basis is in teaching it.

The culture remains one of ‘coding is for boys’, and ‘too difficult’ – and that’s a problem. It means the existing tools for coding education are actually putting most girls off wanting to learn more about coding and creating on the web. Instead, we want to build tools to give girls both the skills and the confidence to code.

There’s plenty of places they can learn coding (really, plenty) and plenty of ways they can be empowered to do so. But so many of them start after to most formative years, at primary level. And while that might address the immediate post-Brexit skills issues, it won’t do so quickly, nor will it do anything for the long term.

Tool like the coding game Erase All Kittens can be especially useful – aimed at girls, aged 8+ and teaching HTML, CSS and Javascript – the real languages of technology, it already has 50,000 players across the world, effectively pre-launch, 47% of them girls (it is estimated that less than 20% of girls participate in code education outside of school).

That’s where the difference will come – equality in coding education will, eventually, lead to equality in the gender balance in the tech industry. And it’s no coincidence that there is greater gender equality in the education industry – the role models are there, we just need the tools.

In the meantime, we’re heading for a skills chasm. And there was an answer there all along.

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Education Work

The answer to the UK's looming digital skills crisis might be more obvious than you think

For every looming economic crisis, there’s a reinvention, and these days it’s always the same one.  Each time fiscal armageddon looms there’s a minister suggesting that the economy will simply restructure itself (somehow), and these days the answer is always (always) that the tech economy will set the country afloat again. That the UK will be a tech-hub driving the globe’s innovation.
But that reflotation may well be heading for an iceberg. A set of problems both self-inflicted and structural.
Coadec, the self-styled ‘policy voice’ of the UK’s start-ups is warning this week, convincingly, it has to be said, that there is a ‘triple whammy’ ahead, creating a huge skills crisis in the UK’s tech industry, which will mean 2.8 million unfilled vacancies for digitally skilled workers, over a quarter of them software developers.

  • A critical fall-off in the STEM skills of the population, due to lack of funding (the structural)
  • Visa restrictions, which will emerge from the withdrawal from the Single Market, meaning fewer skilled specialists from overseas.
  • Those same overseas specialists affected by the uncertainty of Brexit and liable to move to tech-literate countries which feel more stable.

Coadec is assuming the latter two issues (the self-inflicted) are too big for it to take or (or, at least, need to be left to Mr Blair), and the issue of STEM education is largely one of funding. So good luck with that.
So what next? Well, the chances are that at least part of the answer could be sitting right by you. They’re called ‘women’. You may have heard of them. And it’s time they were a much bigger part of the UK’s tech sector.
As it stands, 4% of gaming programmers are women. As are seven of the of the world’s top 100 tech billionaires. In 2015, women held 57% of all professional occupations, but only 25% of all computing occupations. The only place where women get involved in coding on anything like an equitable basis is in teaching it.

The culture remains one of ‘coding is for boys’, and ‘too difficult’ – and that’s a problem. It means the existing tools for coding education are actually putting most girls off wanting to learn more about coding and creating on the web. Instead, we want to build tools to give girls both the skills and the confidence to code.
There’s plenty of places they can learn coding (really, plenty) and plenty of ways they can be empowered to do so. But so many of them start after to most formative years, at primary level. And while that might address the immediate post-Brexit skills issues, it won’t do so quickly, nor will it do anything for the long term.
Tool like the coding game Erase All Kittens can be especially useful – aimed at girls, aged 8+ and teaching HTML, CSS and Javascript – the real languages of technology, it already has 50,000 players across the world, effectively pre-launch, 47% of them girls (it is estimated that less than 20% of girls participate in code education outside of school).
That’s where the difference will come – equality in coding education will, eventually, lead to equality in the gender balance in the tech industry. And it’s no coincidence that there is greater gender equality in the education industry – the role models are there, we just need the tools.
In the meantime, we’re heading for a skills chasm. And there was an answer there all along.

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Work

Don’t blame devices for misbehaviour, blame the students

We’ve all had the meetings arising from students misbehaviour with their devices. I had one recently after students did ‘something’ amiss on their iPads.

Sadly, these meetings are not unusual for me, or, indeed, for anyone who manages technology in schools. For that matter, this is common for anyone working in education. Students have “things” and “do things”. Everyone has issues with behaviour.

During that meeting, I was able to articulate something that I understand, but often do not say enough:

“Do not connect behaviour rules to devices or things, connect them to behaviour and actions.”

I asked the group to make three statements that are non-negotiable, and can easily be followed by all teachers without interpretation. An example would be, “I have warned you twice, now you need to go to the office.”

I encouraged them to focus on statements that do not connect to a “thing” but rather to the behaviour or action. My reasoning is that if the school connects non-negotiable policies to an object, when that object changes the reinforcement may also change. People associate logic and reasoning to objects. In many NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) models, objects are used to anchor memories and feelings. One does not have to be a master of neuroscience to acknowledge that by not setting an anchor, board consistency is more likely to remain when change occurs.

Non-Negotiables

I am certain everyone understands the concept of a non-negotiable statement or practice. However, not everything can be a non-negotiable, and I do not see the need for many of them. These statements (which is the context I am focusing on) should be universal within the school and easily applied without interpretation. The application by a teacher merely moves the students and situation to another level of discussion. A non-negotiable does not need to result in a severe action, but some action must be taken.

I believe all schools running any type of 1-to-1 device program should have these statements and have them clearly posted and communicated to the entire community.

Here are some structures I believe are useful and practical:You have been warned (X – Number of Times), now, (Action).

  • Personal privacy is not a flexible issue. (Action)
  • Unauthorized content, or use of unauthorized content, was clearly explained. (Action)
  • Everything here (define) indicates plagiarism or academic dishonesty. (Action)
  • This appears to be a potential risk or threat to personal safety. (Action).

The power in these statements is that there is no discussion. Once communicated, the student will immediately move to the action phase. The behaviour is being addresses, without mentioning the “how and what” involved. Those details may be discussed later after the student has been moved to the next level of action. They need to know what they have done is not only against the rules, but something the teacher simply refuses to discuss alone.

 

More from Tony at TonyDePrato.com

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Education

Women in the city lack digital skills in developing countries

Poor women in cities in developing countries are 50 percent less likely than poor men to use the Internet, and blame the high cost and their lack of skills for the gap, researchers said on Wednesday.
While 59 percent of such men surveyed by the Web Foundation,  established by British World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, use the Internet, just 37 percent of women do so.
“Most poor urban women are confined to (a technology) ghetto that does little to help them break out of the real ghetto of poverty and gender discrimination,” said Anne Jellema, Web Foundation’s chief executive.
“Governments need to make digital skills the right of every girl and boy as part of a wider commitment to quality education for all.”
Women are 1.6 times more likely than men to report a lack of skills as a barrier, and cited cash as another major obstacle, with one gigabyte of data costing as much as three quarters of the amount regarded as the monthly poverty line in the countries studied.
Researchers questioned 750 poor women and and 250 poor men in the biggest city or capital in each of Cameroon, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Philippines and Uganda between January and October this year.
Last month world leaders agreed an ambitious plan to end poverty and inequality in the next 15 years, as one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) they adopted at the United Nations in New York.
The fifth SDG, concerning gender equality, explicitly mentions the importance of bringing technology to more women by 2030.
“To achieve the U.N. global goal on women’s empowerment through (technology), the key challenge is how technology can assist those without status or power to claim it,” said Ingrid Brudvig, author of the survey report.
Women are most likely to use the Internet for keeping in touch with family and friends through social media. They are 25 percent less likely than men to use it for job hunting, and 52 percent less likely to express controversial views online.</p><p>Of the men and women surveyed who do use the Internet, 97 percent reported using social media, but this alone does not necessarily bring about empowerment without other changes being made, Brudvig said.
“There is a real risk that online social networks simply recreate the inequalities that poor women face in their offline lives, rather than helping them to open up new horizons.”

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