By Simon Harbridge, CEO, Stone Group
We all know by now that from September 2014 all maintained schools in England will be teaching a new computing curriculum at Key Stages 1–4. With technology advancing every day, it is a vital move that will help prepare the next generation for the workplace, in which many industries have now come to rely on technology.
Here at Stone Group we are opening our doors formally to schools and colleges across the UK who want to use our manufacturing facilities as a module or school trip in the new ICT curriculum. This is especially timely as understanding the hardware and software components that make up computer systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems will form part of Key Stages 3 and 4 in the new curriculum.
A-level students at Merrill Academy in Derbyshire appreciate the value a complete understanding of ICT can offer for their future career plans. So when we offered them the chance to see how their computers were built and try for themselves they jumped at it.
Students today are choosing to study ICT, not to find out how to create spreadsheets and documents, but with an awareness of the position it holds in society and business, and the relevance it has to many career options. Two students who visited us recently told us their views on studying ICT:
“I chose to study ICT because I knew that doing product design at university would require an ICT background, and being good on a computer will be part of the course,” said A-level student Sane Mafa.
“Because of the world today, the expansion of technology and the speed it’s expanding at, I feel like if I know more about IT and all the technical stuff, it’ll help me in the future,” said Yao Chen.
During the day, the students were shown around our manufacturing, repair and recycling facilities and given an introduction to the whole manufacturing process. This included a demonstration on how to dismantle and rebuild a computer. It was interesting to find out what the students had previously expected of a computer business, such as the expectation that building a machine would be complex and highly technical, and perhaps put together by robots, but in actual fact, as student Sane said: “It’s not actually that technical, but quite simple. It’s just knowing what you’re doing.
“The speed at which they build the computers was impressive. Because it took us like an hour to put one back together when we took one apart and they can do it in under five minutes.”
Another visitor loved our eco credentials, Neelam Karim, A-level student at Merrill Academy, said: “It was interesting to see how environmentally friendly Stone is – how dedicated they are to making sure they recycle waste. I didn’t know where old computers went and I didn’t know some of them even existed anymore.”
Not every student will need to build a computer in the career they choose, but it will be ever more important to understand how hardware and software is communicating with one another as well as how data is shared and stored. Some of the students we saw from Merrill Academy were planning for careers in graphic design and interior architecture, where technology already features highly.
It was rewarding to see the enthusiasm these students had in learning about the manufacturing process and getting hands on. It was even more refreshing to hear them talk to us about the importance of IT education in schools and the need to go beyond software. Sane added: “We get taught about software but not enough on the manufacturing side of things. Before I came here I thought robots put the computers together, and before I studied IT I didn’t think there was a practical side to learning it, other than learning about how to create websites.”
The next step is getting the next generation excited about technology and in part that is our responsibility as a UK-based IT company. We need to make sure students know there’s more to technology education than building a website and creating a spreadsheet and make sure they are taken on a journey from build to create in order to establish true enthusiasm.