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Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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4.1.2 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 – indeed a whole new language – for this digital world.

With the launch of a new computing curriculum in England in 2014, coding has become an integral part of the national curriculum in schools. Pupils from as young as five years of age should in theory start to learn about creating and debugging simple programs of their own. Coding using algorithms and computational thinking will 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. It’s a big shake-up for children and teachers alike.

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. This brings us, once again, to the digital divide (Prensky, 2001) from Week 1 – how might a distinction between digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’ be affecting education and teaching?