Addressing the current shortage of digital skills has been and continues to be a priority for this Government.

It is evident that IT has a crucial role to play in the UK’s future prosperity. However, with strengthened competition from Europe and the fast emerging Asian economies, the UK must have the adequate skills, competencies and abilities to compete globally and withstand economic influence.

If you walk from one end of the high-street to the other, there isn’t a single young adult in sight who isn’t swiping their smartphone screen; even toddlers are now, more than ever before, reliant on technological gadgets to keep them “occupied”. However being “occupied and entertained” is as far as they go, their vision is limited and very few pursue curiosity for the ever changing and remarkable technology further and understand how technology around them actually works. The nation’s tech economy could grow by £12bn and generate 46,000 new jobs in the next ten years [1]

Schools vary enormously in the extent to which they are harnessing technology effectively to support learning in order to sustain tomorrow’s business leaders. Research by BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association) showed pupils are exposed to ICT for 53% of teaching time in 2015 and was shown to be forecasted to grow to 58% by the end of 2017 [2]. The government recently introduced a new “computing curriculum” giving importance in learning with technology, which included coding, using a computer keyboard and other integrated technologies.

However, it is not just computers that are being given importance research also shows that there are 720,000 tablets available for being used across schools the UK and around 71 percent of primary schools in the UK and 76 percent of secondary schools are making use of tablets in the classroom [3]. This shows yet another rising trend for learning education with technology through the adoption of mobile technology. It’s expected that by the end of  2017  adaptive  and  blended  learning  will  make  the  turn  towards  becoming  the norm  within  classrooms  as  we  start  to  see  technology  increasingly  complement  traditional learning and enable students to learn at their own pace, on any device, whenever they want.

Sometimes successfully exploiting technology and harnessing it for the benefit of education can be difficult, as there are some issues to consider:

  • Concerns over reliability and validity of high-stakes assessment (such as how to ensure all students receive equivalent tests if questions are selected at random from a question bank)
  • User identity verification and security issues

Cracking the UK’s tech literacy challenge – Crowd sourced ideas

  • Make it Relevant, Make it Real – Over half of primary school teachers felt unconfident and underprepared to teach the new computing syllabus released in 2014 [4]. It is therefore effective to train teachers to show kids how tech literacy connects with real opportunities in the outside world, and get pupils using classroom technology to tackle the real-world problems they would come across in their daily lives.
  • Engaging parents – An online parent’s portal could enable parents to see more of their kids’ work online and support their progress. This would allow students and teachers to organise their homework, and create and access resources from anywhere.
  • Groups for Tech Excellence – Help schools to understand what good looks like in terms of right access to technology in line with the national minimum standards, supported with independent guidance; and narrow the gaps in school connectivity by harnessing schools with established tech teachers and infrastructure to act as hubs for local networks.
  • ‘Young Tech Pioneer of the Year’ Awards – Launch a new awards programme, which complements the curriculum and inspires young adults to see how technology can be used to meet needs, create a new business, provide a service and solve challenges that they care about.

In order to build and sustain a culture of tech literacy which is a shared challenge, technology experts are dedicating effort and imagination to making the UK a more tech enabled society. At Strategic Discourse we bring together industry experts with experience in technology and the public sector to assist our clients in understanding the challenges we face, building new ideas and solutions, researching and understanding the horizon of emerging technology as well as ensuring the true collaborative working throughout.