Digitally Defined

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Gerard Greally

Gerard is an Irish primary school & technology teacher based in Madrid, Spain. After training in London, he sought brighter skies and moved to an International school where he is ICT teacher to year 4, 5 and 6 students in an iPad one-to-one environment. Gerard...
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What digital skills do students need?

Do your students know why we click on the ‘floppy disk’ icon to save? Have they ever seen a floppy disk or cassette?

Technology moves fast. As teachers of technology we are teaching children how to utilize evolving tech, with ever-expanding features and possibilities. These advances are not going to stop any time soon, and our students need to learn the skills to thrive in our new automated and augmented reality.

I am constantly reminded that I am preparing children for an unknown quantity. With our dependence on technology increasingly daily (and an apparent fear of robots taking our jobs): How can we best prepare our students for this uncertainty?

Ten years ago, neither the App Store nor Play Store existed. New markets have seamlessly emerged from technological advances, and will continue to do so.

The idea that Millenials are digital natives and don´t need training has well and truly been destroyed. Just because you have a resource does not necessarily mean you know how to use it.

We do not know what careers lie ahead. Maybe your daughter will be a drone air-traffic controller, or a Hyperloop operator! The fact is that many of our students and children will have jobs and work in professions that do not exist yet.

‘Post’ Code

Recent figures suggest that digital skills such as Coding are already a prerequisite to a high paying and rewarding career.

Take a look at some of the most successful people on the planet as a good example:

This is proof that Coding has fast become a necessary skill, similar to literacy and numeracy. Communication of ideas to computers to develop applications and similar processes will be seen as prerequisite in the not too distant future.

It’s important that we as teachers now update our skill-set to include basic coding skills and there is no better place to start than at

The emerging technology that we are seeing now, needs to be placed in children´s hands as soon as possible, as these advances and changes will define their futures.

The Hour of Code and Codeweek initiatives and the resources they include can teach students the basics of coding in 1 hour, (with many hours of high quality teaching material and linked lessons), with some exercises you don’t even need a computer or tablet!

Another place to look for ideas for teaching coding is through Thierry Karsenti and Julien Bugmann, Canada Research Chair on Technologies in Education. They have produced 11 Extraordinary Apps That Will Help You Teach Your Students How To Code and this is well worth a look.

Students can then use their presentation skills to teach you how to code! Our communication skills will also need to keep pace with technology. If given 5 minutes to prepare an explanation of a process or topic, the best answer will need to include infographics or short presentations with edited photos and links. With so much technology sitting in our hands and pockets, it’s only right that students can tap into this resource.

With technology affecting so many markets and the vast amount of opportunities available, students should develop a bank of ‘transferrable skills’: photo editing, photo enhancement and infographics, video editing and compilation, coding, word processing, presentation literacy, robotics, respecting digital rights, advanced search techniques, augmented and virtual reality.

These skills can be used across many different markets, and used by students of any age to increase communication skills and digital literacy.

The rigidity of our education systems needs to be addressed. For the sake of children’s comprehension and understanding of technology, we must allow them to explore latest technologies firsthand, and not only through a screen.

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