Today’s problem with creating tomorrow’s programmers

By Robert Banks – FUZE Technologies

In a world of varied and often vivid distractions, finding a way to pull young students away from their tablets and consoles is often a struggle many a parent or guardian can relate to when trying to turn that same focus and passion towards an educational pursuit. What if you didn’t need to pull them away, but in fact, you found yourself encouraging them to spend more time on their games console?

We’ve designed FUZE4 Nintendo Switch to allow you to do just that. Below you’ll find details on what encouraged us to take one of the most popular games consoles enjoyed by children and adults alike, to turn it into a programming tool you can use at home, much like the BBC Micros and Commodore 64s of old.

The modern day UK school curriculum for all of its strengths isn’t one without its fair share of critics. With a pedagogy which focuses on the old-timely trio of English, maths and science, often taught in quite a classical style with little innovation between what my 15-year-old niece is currently practising, to what I was over a decade ago, students that possess an affinity for STEM-based talents might often feel as if they’re being funnelled through a ‘cookie cutter’ that simply doesn’t fit them.

With the right resources and experience a teacher can use computer sciences to bring that tactile element of learning that students already receive from their digital devices at home, into the classroom to optimise their learning and yet curiously we’re not… at least as much as we could be.

Interestingly, Japan has just recently kick-started its plans to make the use of programming  mandatory in their elementary schools in its bid to avoid being short about 290,000 tech workers by 2020 and about 590,000 by 2030, if the market continues to grow with the trend that it has been.

We know better than ever how to use technology, but fewer and fewer are learning how to make it.

Curiously, back in 2014 England too made the teaching of this subject compulsory, with similar hopes for our future generation, though many teachers share the opinion that the momentum which first pushed for that change has all but stalled, along with similar monetary contributions to our state schools, be that in direct funding or ensuring these topics are being delivered for the children present.

With government and a majority of media talks incessantly fixated on Brexit over these past three years, vital issues in the UK’s governance simply haven’t had the same platform for discussion they once did, such as steady but certain decline of school funding, where educators are asked to achieve the same high results whilst simultaneously receiving less and less funding and resources for training and support to achieve these goals. It’s no wonder that schools would struggle to give the attention that these fields of study desperately need for these students to find their passion for STEM-based roles.

And yet, we live in a technology-driven society that’s forever evolving in the corporate world. Modern day children are raised on tablets, consoles and smartphones and more and more, we are learning how to use technology in our own homes, though few would know how or what makes their favourite devices to operate as they do. Where or how do loops and repeats work in their device’s functionality? What precisely is a variable or array when we think about a computer?

We know better than ever how to use technology, but fewer and fewer are learning how to make it.

We firmly believe in the power of learning through play and experience.

That said, a window of opportunity has appeared for commercial companies much like ours at FUZE, to do our part in breaking down existing barriers to entry, which many encounter as they approach the world of computer programming for the first time, with both our school workshops and seasonal workshops respectively, we’ve been supporting schools up and down the UK since 2013, sticking to our particular goal of delivering real, text based coding, to better prepare students for future languages, without underestimating their ability to process and understand entry level coding concepts and beyond.

Two years ago we posed our idea to bring FUZE, our unique coding language, specifically designed to ease students into the world of real, text-based coding onto the Nintendo Switch platform and we were pleasantly surprised that Nintendo received the idea warmly, not just in their UK division, but across their Germany and Japanese divisions respectively.

With the go ahead to publish on the platform given, we sought out to create something that would give parents and newcomers to coding, a gateway to coding in the form of FUZE4 Nintendo Switch, which will give children the ability to make and create their very own programs, projects and video games on their Nintendo Switch.

Targeting a game’s console for education is something that might seem odd to many, though we firmly believe in the power of learning through play and experience. Much like opening the hood of a car to learn how the parts work, FUZE4 Nintendo Switch teaches you how the inner workings of how video games and programs work from the ground up, which will allow users to discover the practical application of maths and concepts found in science that they previously might not have found half as engaging.

FUZE4 Nintendo Switch teaches you how the inner workings of how video games and programs work from the ground up.

The product releases on 31 May and will be available from the Nintendo e-Shop for £29.99, which should provide affordable access where many alternative options run on subscriptions for the premium content they provide, further distancing potential programmers from proving to themselves that not only can they code… but they might well thrive in the realm of programming.

The tech demo is available for viewing on Youtube, where all the games and projects on display have all been programmed using FUZE4 Nintendo Switch and its extensive library of over 10,000 gaming assets to allow users to be as creative as they like with the programs they make.

So whilst the momentum and support may have both equally dwindled in recent years for government support to run push computer sciences accessibility for everyone, we’re all doing our part to bring innovations forward that will hopefully make the change needed to make the programmers of tomorrow.