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Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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1.2 Creating a new curriculum

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Figure 2 Children now are as familiar with computers in the classroom as with computers at home.

While some of the ideas of virtual or flipped classrooms might appear rather theoretical and take time to be accepted, there is already change afoot in the often dusty world of the educational curriculum. Now, with tablet computers and games far more widely accessible, educationalists leading the curriculum recognise that children need a new set of skills – possibly even a whole new language – for effectively using these devices.

Governments in many countries, including India, England and Estonia, have taken steps to introduce coding, programming skills and computational thinking into their national curricula. According to the computing curriculum in England in 2014, pupils from as young as five years of age should start to learn about creating and debugging simple programs of their own. Coding using algorithms and computational thinking could potentially help children develop a language, together with systematic thinking and problem-solving (through simulation, trial-and-error) and storytelling skills that should prepare them for the future.

As you might imagine, the changes have been widely praised within the technology industry. However, there are also critics questioning the value of teaching programming and coding skills to young children, or wondering whether enough teachers have the skills and support that they will need to teach coding effectively. While the debate about the importance of national teaching of coding skills continues, there is no doubt that everyone needs to continually develop a better awareness and critical understanding of the possibilities offered by educational technology. One exciting prospect is that of virtual schools.