A severe skills shortage

Jon Silvera, founder and managing director, Fuze Technologies, looks at the challenges the edtech sector faces in the months ahead

What do you think have been the key technological developments in the education sector this year?

From our perspective it has to be programming. Having been involved in computing since the early eighties, it has been a real eye opener to find academia in the same position it was 30-something years ago. For the last 20 years, focus left teaching actual programming and moved on to using applications. It is criminal we now find ourselves with severe skill shortages in an area we were once jointly responsible for creating. 

Will security issues threaten the development of BYOD in schools?

We were scared of calculators once. However the evolution from writing 8008135 to instantly available hardcore and extreme porn, unrated video, TV watching and gaming clearly demonstrates we have a long way to go, in my opinion, before we can truly welcome this advance.

MOOC adoption has grown massively during 2014, do you think this type of learning is now more widely accepted as an educational tool?

Anything that helps to simplify the selection of course material has to be a good thing. At the same time, being presented by such a varied and comprehensive selection in any one field of interest is a great way to inspire and maximise self-enrichment and improvement.

Has the UK kept up with the rest of the world on 2014’s developments? Are there any key nations out in front?

From the feedback we have received from international customers and consultants the UK is in a very similar position to the rest of the world. For us, the enquiries regarding programming solutions for the classroom have come from as far afield as China, Brazil, Malaysia, Australia, Chile, throughout Europe and the US. In all cases the message has been the same – a lack of experience, resource materials and solutions throughout.

What have we learned about edtech in 2014 that will help us develop next year and beyond? 

Again with a selfish emphasis on programming, our main realisation is that there is a definite lack of cohesive support and reference materials to help teachers introduce actual programming, that’s text based programming, throughout all key stages. We have refined the FUZE programming platform to deliver in this area and clearly demonstrate it is easily achievable, even in primary, to bring real programming to the classroom.