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FacilityLive Coding4Kids preparing children for the future

Mariuccia Teroni, Founder and Chair of FacilityLive, discusses coding in schools and how teachers can encourage pupils to learn the language

Posted by Charley Rogers | October 18, 2017 | International

Computers. Most of us don't really understand them, even though we use them on a daily basis for work, accessing information, planning journeys or even ordering food. Technology provides an increased level of convenience to our everyday lives, and has become an integral part of our routine.

The websites that we access, the software, and even the apps that we use are all created using coding - it is the ‘language’ that runs in the background of our day-to-day lives. Our growing reliance on technology is driving the need to teach children how to code and to let them understand that coding is more a process of creative thinking than just the act of writing software.

Technology has had an impact on the way children learn and so has changed the habits and expectations of teachers and parents. As a result, in 2014, the U.K. government overhauled the way it taught computing in schools by adding mandatory programming classes to the curriculum.

British schools spend £900million on education technology every year to teach basic digital skills and tackle subjects such as maths and English in innovative, fun and interactive ways, both inside and outside the classroom. Despite this, it seems as if the UK will still face a marked skills gap. Research from Empirica, prepared for the European Commission, predicts that the UK will face a shortage of 756,000 workers for technologically-skilled jobs by 2020.

British schools spend £900million on education technology every year to teach basic digital skills and tackle subjects such as maths and English in innovative, fun and interactive ways.

More than 80% of teachers believe technology can fundamentally enhance the learning experience, and with technology leaders and educators encouraging schools to add more computer-science classes, families are now beginning to see programming as an essential skill for the future.

However, unlike teaching children to read or write, preparing children to code can feel like a daunting challenge for many parents, who believe that they are unable to help because they can’t code themselves. In our experience, coding shouldn’t be seen as something daunting. Parents can turn everyday tasks into playful logic puzzles, which can teach children the fundamentals of coding.

Young children can enjoy and approach the magic world of coding through abstract games and puzzles that can allow them to familiarise themselves with the logics that stand behind algorithms. They can learn this logic giving simple instructions to machines while they are playing. This may be the seed that will then push them to choose a future education path in line with e-skills requirements.

Introducing computer programming to your kids shouldn’t be seen as a challenge, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of code. Fortunately, in the last few years, a number of apps, software and classes have been produced that make computer coding easy for young learners to grasp.

Introducing computer programming to your kids shouldn’t be seen as a challenge, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of code.

As Founder of a next generation software company, FacilityLive, I have a passion for technology, and I believe it is very important to put local school children in close connection with the e-skills of the future. Since we launched our FacilityLive Coding4Kids™ initiative in 2014 in Italy, we have connected more than 500 children with the worlds of coding and technology. We are now ready to start it again addressing all the 4th grade students of our city, Pavia. I’m very proud that our strong commitment in running this all year round initiative has been recognised by the European Commission that has included it in their Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition pledges.

I believe the skills that can be gained through coding can be used for more than just creating apps or computer programmes. Building a complex piece of software requires the ability to simplify complicated tasks and think analytically - skills which are all essential when running a global business.

Coding programmes are booming, and we are seeing that children are drawn to programming by imagining what they can accomplish. It allows them to be creative and will better prepare them to pursue a career in a sector where there is predicted to be a shortage of skilled professionals.

Digital is infiltrating a variety of traditional areas, with an increasing number of businesses being transformed by it. This has resulted in technology sector roles recently being added to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List, and many businesses outsourcing technology requirements to countries that have already fostered the much-needed skills sets.

By understanding technology and not just using it, our future generations will be able to shape the digital world around them.

By understanding technology and not just using it, our future generations will be able to shape the digital world around them. We have a responsibility to encourage the future generation to get coding as a lifestyle, as a career choice or as a different way of thinking through the use of logics that can enable creativity. So coding isn’t just a technical competence but a discipline of thought because the digital transformation we are currently living is not so much a technological revolution but a cultural revolution. After all, the UK and Europe digital economy depends on it.

If we are to take coding in schools seriously, then it is essential that we invest in training teachers to a high standard, and ensure that computing experts are capable of teaching.

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