Is Digital literacy as important as learning Maths and English within the classroom?
A report published by the Digital Skills Committee entitled ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future’ provided a ‘wakeup call to whoever forms the next government’ states the Digital Skills Committee chair Baroness Morgan. She went on to say that ‘digital is everywhere, with digital skills now seen as vital life skill’ which we are not being taught enough of at school or university.
Around six million British citizens (or 12% of the country’s adult population) have never used the internet which could potentially be correlated to the fact that in 2013, 17.4% of the UK population was aged 65 and over. No doubt, computer technology would not have been a large factor in their learning growing up.
The report states that with the risk of 35% of jobs becoming automated in the next 20 years across the UK, it is imperative that we are prepared to work in this environment.
However, one main concern was ‘the ability of teachers to deliver’ new computing curriculum. It was worrying that the report suggested that more than half of IT teachers did not have post A-level qualifications relevant to the subject.
A key point highlighted was the importance of increasing the amount of women in the digital industry that is typically male dominated. Out of 4,000 students taking computer science A-levels in the UK (which still seems low to us) fewer than 100 of those were girls. It proposes that ‘those providing formal and informal careers guidance need to be better informed as to give girls an accurate representation of jobs in tech’.
Will this therefore mean a rise in online courses with specialists who know the industry teaching students or the qualifications needed to teach being stricter?
FutureLearn, the UK online university platform has now reached a million students signing up for courses such as ‘Introduction to Cyber Security’ amongst others which could start a trend for those learning outside of the classroom.