25 Jun 2013
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Schools need to lead creative computing

By Rebecca Wood

It is vitally important that creative computing becomes an essential part of the school curriculum and tertiary education programmes, according to a leading New Zealand technology expert.

University of Canterbury senior teacher education lecturer, Wendy Fox-Turnbull, says the knowledge age has arrived and New Zealand can no longer continue to rely on primary produce to boost its gross domestic product.

“ICT is an area of huge potential and one in which we can compete on the world stage. But students are not encouraged to enter technology because of out-dated perceptions among students themselves, careers advisors, parents, school management and some teachers,” she says.

“We need the nation's school children to move from being digital consumers to digital creators. We must foster a passion for technology education, change outdated perceptions of ICT and technology education in schools and in the wider education community.”

As chair of Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ) and as a senior lecturer in technology education at the University of Canterbury, Fox-Turnbull says there is big money in the ICT world. A 17-year-old British teen, Nick D'Aloisio, recently sold his Summly app to Yahoo for $NZ36 million which, she says, is an inspiration for coming generations of technologically-minded students.

“What we now need, however, is for schools, tertiary institutions and industry based training providers to fully acknowledge and value the skills of students who have achieved in digital technologies,” Fox-Turnbull says.

And there is a similar call from businesses for schools to place more emphasis on technology.  A recent IndustryConnect event, held at Auckland’s Macleans College, introduced students and parents to career trends in business and information technology.

Hosted by Manukau Institute of Technology, more than 120 students and their parents attended the event to hear speakers including Telecom CEO, Simon Moutter; Microsoft NZ’s HR director, Pia Dalum; and Fuji Xerox corporate affairs manager, Steven Caunce, explain how young people can create relevant and viable career pathways from school to tertiary to employment.

The speakers’ message was simple – more students need to be planning careers in technology.

Speaking at the event, Telecom CEO Simon Moutter pointed out that this is a time of monumental change. “Any job to do with technology is going to be hot,” he says, “The jobs of 2020 haven’t even been conceived yet and it is young ICT professionals who will make the change.”

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