The future of tech influencing life

02.12.20 10:17 AM Comment(s) By Jonathan Faurie

We need to make sure that we are providing our children with the skills to embrace the future. 



I was at school when the age of the computer started. Yes, I know that I am old. But no jokes, I still remember computer lessons where we were using floppy, then stiffy disks. In high school the core of our computer training centred around the proper hand position when typing and how to use the Microsoft suite of programmes effectively.

 

Currently, kids are being taught topics such as robotics and coding at school. We have come a long way in 20 years. This will only gain momentum in the future as new skills become necessary to enable the youth of today to be equipped for jobs of the future.

 

Coding the future

I recently read an article which points out the importance of teaching coding to children from primary school levels.

 

The article points out that learning coding has always been a cup of tea for tech enthusiasts and IT professionals. But for kids, it may seem like an impossible endeavor. Recent advances and research in technology put coding at the forefront of one of the future careers. Simply put, coding is the practice of understanding the computer language by using a series of inputs and outputs. By learning coding, students can grasp insights into the inner workings of the technology and determine how that can be leveraged to solve a particular problem.

 

Coding can also enable young minds or students to enter the realm of modern technology. It provides them the power to create interactive apps and games.

 

Why Coding is Imperative for Students?

The article adds that, as coding is a computer language, it will strengthen students’ verbal and written skills. They will be exposed to different languages at an early age, helping them to understand the world around them better. With coding, children will reap valuable skills of computational thinking that involve a mechanism to logically crunch complex problems into simple and manageable bits and step ahead to solve them. Entering into STEM discipline itself gives students a lot of innovative ideas. And getting started with coding will help them to bring these ideas to reality by creating apps or games, for instance that will be beneficial for the mass. This means that coding ties the rope between an innovative idea and its execution.

 

Many STEM programs have already included coding to help children to be able to visualize abstract concepts at an early age. It gives them the ability to apply math to real-world situations and make this discipline more fun and creative. Coding is also significant for your minds as it provides logical thinking. Kids who learn coding understand how to plan and organize thoughts. They will be able to formulate a step-by-step procedure to produce the desired outcomes. This significantly leads to better writing skills that can be built upon as coding skills develop over time.

 

The article points out that students can become good decision-makers by learning coding that helps them develop critical thinking skills. They can improve their results or themselves upon what they have already done without worrying about failing.

 

While this stream can help children to understand and prepare for the ever-growing technology landscape, governments around the world realize the potential of teaching coding at a young age. Putting efforts towards this, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 introduced Coding for the students from Class 6th onwards to enhance the exposure to technology and create a path to a new world of innovation and creativity.

 

 

 

Coding Tools for Elementary

The article points out that there is a broad range of tools and resources available helping kids to learn coding by targeting the foundations of programming, such as problem-solving, logic, and critical thinking. However, choosing the best will make difference in learning.

 

Here are some top platforms that teach students how to code:

 

-  Scratch. Scratch is one of the best coding platforms that teaches students to code their own interactive stories, animations, and games. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It teaches young minds to learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. It is provided free of charge;

-  Tynker. Tynker, a coding platform for kids, provides everything needed to learn computer programming in a fun way. It powers the creativity of over 60 million kids and serves thousands of schools and educators worldwide. Designed to help kids learn to make anything from Web apps to custom games and actual hardware, Tynker is a great interactive resource that teaches kids to code;

-  Microsoft MakeCode. This coding platform makes computer science more fun projects. It creates engaging computer science learning experiences that support a progression path into real-world programming. Microsoft MakeCode involves the diverse application of computer coding. Simulator, for instance, provides students with immediate feedback on how their program is running and makes it easy to test and debug their code;

-  WhiteHat Jr. WhiteHat Jr is an online coding class for kids from Grade 1-12. In this online class, students will learn fundamentals of coding-logic, structure, sequence, and algorithmic thinking to generate creative outcomes like animations and apps. The courses offered by WhiteHat Jr. are designed to teach kids to code with core programming skills, and then improve the proficiency of the kids coding languages.

 

Word of the mouth

Children have been blessed with the kind of innocence that, if you want the truth about something, ask a child. It makes sense therefore that if they are excited about coding, and how it will impact their future, then it must be a subject that every child should have access to.

 

The Guardian recently published an article where it spoke to a number of children from around the world about their experience with coding and how it has impacted their future. Below is an extract of that article and was not written by GTconsult.

 

Adarsh Ambati, 15, San Jose, California

I started getting interested in coding when I was about 11. I joined a local community lab where biologists and computer scientists come together and conduct experiments. I wanted to join the lab because my brother was really into biology and at the time I wanted to be exactly like him. I was too young to participate in the experiments, so my mentor pushed me more towards coding.

 

Then a couple of years ago my mum had a third-degree heart block and had to go to hospital where she was hooked up to so many different wires to monitor her health. But the wires ended up hindering her health because they stopped her moving around. I wanted to make something that could help her and other people feel better by having their mobility restored, while still being able to monitor their vital signs.

 

That’s when I came up with an idea for a contactless vital signs monitor. It took me around nine months to develop the device and build an app with notifications so doctors could use it, but also regular people. Because it’s contactless and relatively portable it could even be used to detect infectious diseases such as Covid-19. My mum got better before I finished the project, so unfortunately I couldn’t use it on her, but I did test it on a lot of other people. I had 40 participants in my pilot study and did over 1,000 tests.

 

In the past, coders have been thought of as nerds and social pariahs, but technology has become a lot more interactive and social than it used to be.

 

At school there are a lot of kids who are really interested in computer science. I think about 25% of people want to pursue it in some way as a career. A lot of young people now associate tech with the sleek, beautiful campuses of Apple and Facebook in Silicon Valley.

 

I made my monitor because I saw a problem with my mum’s heart, but I also did a project about an eco- sprinkler system when I saw that a lot of water was wasted on my neighbours’ lawns. I want to combine my passions of environmental science and computer science and build a product that will make conservational biology much more efficient. Preserving biodiversity is something we’re struggling with as a planet; hopefully one day I can develop a device that can make that go more smoothly.

 

Raphaël Wreford, 13, London

My technology career started when I was four and my dad showed me how to make a PowerPoint. I was really bad at drawing, so I would use it to make cool shapes and animations. I began making one every week about the most boring subjects, like my house, and presenting them to my primary school class. I think I started a trend because so many people started doing it after that.

 

Soon after, my friend’s dad, who made video games, realised I was interested in computers and started teaching me about coding. He showed us the things he had made and I was fascinated because I realised with code you could make anything you want. I would play around with an old spare computer at home and mash the keys, hoping it would produce a good output – that’s how I lost my first computer to a million viruses.

 

Initially, I only wanted to learn code so I could make my own video games. My parents were quite strict with technology. I didn’t have a games console and I knew if I asked to play video games, most of the time the answer would be no. But if I asked to make one, they would let me because it was educational. It was a great way of bypassing the rules.

 

For about three years my friend and I used the library computer at school to work on game ideas. My first creation was very boring – and my family definitely expressed that. I really wanted to do something unique and helpful. I had an idea to make a video game for blind people. I always knew the game should be shaped around sounds, so a blind person could hear it. I spent a whole summer talking to my dad about it and when I started making it, it ran really smoothly.

 

I want to make it available on Android game apps soon and eventually add some of the adverts that allow you to get paid a little. Once you’ve got the skills it’s quite easy to make money from coding – even when you’re just 13.

 

I think 20 years ago coding seemed like a geeky thing to do, but now you have drones that rescue people in mountains, robot surgeons and AI that is a million times smarter than humans. Young people are realising they can save the world with code.

 

Fiona Geary, 13, West Cork

When I was seven my parents saw things on the TV about coding and took me to a local coding club. I liked that you could write a set of instructions to the computer and it carried out your wishes: you could create any idea that popped up in your head. I started experimenting with mini-games. I made one where you had to save an alien planet from climate change. We always get lectures about climate change and I wanted to create a fun game with aliens to do a unique spin on the concept.

 

When I was 12, I made an animation about a refugee who travels to Ireland from Syria. I had heard about it so much in the news and I wanted to use my skills to get the message out there because people my age might not know about these things.

 

My current project is a website about mindfulness, the name is TeenBeo – beo is the Irish word for life. I think that every young person can get nervous sometimes and growing up in 2020 there is a lot of chaos with social media and living up to certain ideals. There are notifications coming at you all the time. The internet can be very hectic. That’s why it’s important to take a break sometimes. On my website there’s a stress ball you can click on when you are angry, there’s music, there’s a breathing exercise, there’s also an area where you can write down all your worries.

 

I haven’t shown it to my friends yet as I was keeping it a bit of a secret until I was comfortable with it. If I do put it up publicly, people could share their artwork and recordings on there. I don’t think there’s anywhere in life that so many people can come together as a community like the internet.

 

A lot of teenagers don’t get into coding, which is a shame, because it’s very helpful. It’s way harder to connect with people without technology – without it lockdown would have been a disaster: no online meetings, no online school, we would have basically done nothing the whole time. It’s hard to imagine a world without tech. I guess you would have to have a power cut to know what it’s like.

 

At the moment I’m dreaming of learning JavaScript and maybe some Python as well, and I would also love to program a robot. That would be really cool. Eventually, I’d like to work somewhere like Google, especially with all the slides, but I’m only 13 so I’m keeping my options open.

 

Elana Monaghan, 16, and Saibh Malcolm, 15, Galway

Elana: You can do anything with code; you can make an app or a website about anything, whether that’s about books or design. We’re both pretty creative and I think that’s one of the things that attracted us to code.

 

Saibh: For me the problem-solving side very appeals as well. There is so much to actually coding a website and there is always something more to learn. If you are creative, finding something that you can use your imagination with is so cool. You can think of anything and then go ahead and make it into something.

 

E: In Ireland, you get a choice of a few schools in your area and when it came to picking secondary schools I picked the one that was most convenient, but last year I transferred to Saibh’s school and now I’m much happier. After that experience, we came up with an idea for an app called Exploring Schools, to help primary school kids choose the right secondary school for them.

 

S: If I was still in primary school and had the app, I would definitely look at the number of people in the school: my primary school had about 40 students, and then I moved to a secondary school that had more than 800 students – and that was a big change.

 

E: Our app evolved as we got more focused and started getting the information together – that was definitely the longest part. There are 47 schools in Galway and we had to go through every school’s details.

 

S: We talked to our friends’ younger brothers and sisters and they all said they thought it would be really helpful. Most of the schools have their own websites, but they’re hard to navigate and find the information that you want. We want to help kids compare schools and have all the information in one place so they make the right choice.

 

E: We definitely want to expand the app. At the moment we only have it for one county in Ireland, but we’re hoping to have it for all of Ireland soon. We probably have to find a more efficient way of collecting the information – at the moment we’re just Googling the schools one by one.

 

S: Coding still isn’t very big, especially among girls, but I think people are definitely getting more into it. In our school we’re probably the only two people who are really into coding, but it’s becoming more popular.

 

E: In 10 years’ time everyone will want to learn how to code. It will definitely help us in the future.

 

Nico Papamichael, 13, London

There are so many things you can do with coding, it’s fun to explore and see what you can create. I enjoy trying things and seeing if it works – if it doesn’t, I try it a different way.

 

I’ve always been interested in things like computers, phones and technology, so I saved up and bought myself a couple of computers – I don’t spend my money on anything else, really. I started playing around with programming. I like to experiment with things that already exist. For example, I used to go to a swimming pool and they had contactless key cards that they gave us. When I stopped going I decided to reprogram the card so that I could tap it on to my iPhone and it would turn the flashlight on. It was pretty useful, actually.

 

I also spend more time messing around with video games than I spend actually playing them. I like to see how a game is written and do something with it that makes it easier to play or makes you invincible. I made a new world on MineCraft where I changed the icon and I changed how many points I had – you can change the colours and characters until it’s basically a new world. Once you know how to do it, it’s not really very hard. I’m just really interested in how I can improve things and make them more interesting.

 

I find it quite surprising that no one I know really enjoys doing the things that I do. We go to digital literacy classes at school, which is basically IT, and we learn coding. I tend to get through it in 10 minutes instead of an hour and then I just make my own stuff up. Everyone always asks me for help all the time. I think it’s because I see it as a hobby rather than a lesson that I have to do. They don’t see it as that much fun.

 

Code is like a language; once you learn it from the beginning you can only learn it more and more and more. One day, when I’m really good at it my plan is to create something that no one has ever made – I want to come up with a computer that no one has ever seen before.

 

The changing job landscape

When I was in university, this article has now graduated from school, there were a number of careers that were very popular. These included accountants, lawyers, and engineers. However, research has shown that jobs that exist today will either not exist in 10 years time, or will be completely autonomous.

 

This creates space for new jobs as technology cannot be completely independent of humans. I recently read an article which pointed out that the best career change that someone could make during the Covid-19 pandemic is towards coding.

 

The article points out that the most future proof career switch that allows post-pandemic jobseekers to climb back up the pay scale quickest has been identified as software developer, research reveals.

 

This is the profession that offers the shortest route to the best salary but is least likely to be taken on by a robotics revolution over the next half century, and best placed to benefit from a working-from-home revolution, according to analysis by developer recruitment platform CodinGame.

 

The article adds that becoming a developer was only beaten in the rankings by the legacy professions of bus and HGV driver, which are under threat from advances in driverless vehicle technology and won’t appeal to people who want the flexibility of working from home.

 

CodinGame researched the average salaries of over 50 core careers1 and then ranked them according to how financially rewarding they are in relation to the length of time it takes to retrain.

 

Software development is one of the most popular second career choices for a host of reasons. It can take as little as 15 weeks to reach the point that you can start applying for jobs.

 

The article points out that the number of job opportunities in this sector are extensive, and likely to continue increasing in the future. Every company in every sector relies on software developers, even if they aren’t employed in-house. In fact, there’s more demand for software developers than any other profession, according to recruitment company Michael Page.

 

Age and previous experience are not barriers to retraining to be a coder, and you can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. It’s not expensive either — anyone can learn to code using free online courses and videos before sharpening those skills on platforms like CodinGame.

 

The article adds that Aude Barral, co-founder of developer recruitment platform CodinGame, said in a press release that: the world is your oyster when it comes to retraining but some professions get you back up the income scale quicker than others. It’s telling that software developer ranks highest among those professions that are most future proof. Switching to a career in coding is incredibly popular already, because there are so few barriers to entry, it’s cheap and quick to learn, and it’s a job that offers unrivalled flexibility. Coronavirus has been the catalyst for a working-from-home revolution, and careers that allow people to choose where they work, such as coding, are going to benefit from this cultural shift we’re seeing. The pandemic is going to force many people out of their jobs, and give others yearning to do something different, pause for thought. It’s never too late to retrain.

 

I recently read another article on LinkedIn which discussed what the job market in 2030 could possibly look like. Below are the Top 5 jobs that could be available:

 

-   Organ Creator. New Zealand–based website, Crimson Education, speculates that the shortage of transplantable organs will, eventually, lead scientists to create organs and body parts from stem cells and other materials, including some that may not even exist yet. Recruiters will be searching for candidates with a background in molecular biology, tissue engineering, or biomedical engineering;

-  Augmented-reality journey builder. Starting with notions developed in Total Recall (memory implants of vacations) and Westworld (an android-staffed amusement park), AR journey builders will allow customers to experience virtually anything they wish. The AR journey builders will, according to Cognizant’s 21 Jobs of the Future, “design, write, create, calibrate, gamify, build, and — most importantly — personalize the next generation of mind-blowing stories and in-the-moment vignettes” for well-heeled clients. The position will demand a film school degree as well as experience with massively multiplayer online role-playing games, Cognizant says, and “exceptional knowledge of and familiarity with leading head-mounted display equipment;

-  Biofilm installer. Biofilms — collections of microbial cells attached to wet surfaces — are icky, sticky, and tricky. They are literally slime and pond scum and the source of 80% of microbial infections. But they are also a remarkable tool for sewage treatment, oil spill cleanup, and generating power. “By coating certain surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen of homes, they will become key tools for environmentally friendly buildings,” says the Canadian Scholarship Trust (CST), which also sees a big role for biofilm installers in “retrofitting smart, energy-efficient buildings.” It’s possible that biofilm installers will fit showers with microbes that attack bathroom mildew or, more broadly, equip homes with a living organism to process the garbage;

-  Earthquake forecaster. Many of the jobs on this list would have been inconceivable even a few years ago, but the role of earthquake predictor has been a job of the future for at least 40 years. In the 1970s, many scientists said that accurate, timely earthquake prediction was just around the corner. Four decades later, that’s where it remains — just around the corner. Crimson Education dismisses those who say such forecasting is impossible by noting that “some people would have said the same thing about weather forecasters less than a hundred years ago.” Clearly, a background in geology and geophysics will come in handy, but so might a little abracadabra;

-  Makeshift structure engineer. The days (not so long ago) of using 3D printing to create keychains and Yoda heads have been replaced by the technology being employed to produce prosthetic hands and prototypes of jet engines. In the future, makeshift structure engineers will deploy 3D printing to construct temporary buildings for those in need after natural disasters or armed conflict (can’t we manage to get rid of that by 2030?). “3D printing will be able to print the parts needed to create small housing units, similar to trailers, in several hours or days, so that they can be assembled quickly for those in need,” CST says. Makeshift structure engineers will have a background in industrial design and structural engineering.

 

“For a long time, we have been a proponent that technology will change the world and enable productivity. It makes sense therefore that tech based skills should be taught to kids at school and that we should be marketing tech based careers as ones that are profitable and attractive. If we ignore this, we will move towards a future where technology influences our lives in the wrong way. Remember, garbage in = garbage out. Lets teach the right skill set,” says Craig Tarr, GTconsult CEO. 

Jonathan Faurie

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