Technology education coming from Minnesota businesses

I always like to hear about people improving their use of technology – especially when that means engaging kids in exciting activities that help them learn. There are some schools that are doing that well – but it’s difficult partially because technology changes so quickly and teachers often do not have the luxury of time to keep up on these changes. So I was delighted to read about a project at Thompson Reuters that got folks in industry working directly with kids…

When a group of Attracta Abulu’s co-workers at Thomson Reuters in Eagan decided to offer computer-coding classes for about 50 middle-school-age children of their colleagues, she jumped at the chance for Obi.

“I knew it was something he would really enjoy,” she said.

By developing those classes, Thomson Reuters programmers joined an informal worldwide initiative of programmers who are working to teach students the language of computers.

“We have to take some of the mystery out of technology so students can understand they can learn to control it,” said Rick King, Thomson Reuters’ chief operating officer for technology. “We want to stimulate more people to think about technology careers.”

Rebecca Schatz, who advocates for more computing education with the website, said there is a “groundswell” of similar programmers worldwide working to pass along skills to the next generation. A group recently launched CoderDojo Twin Cities, a free workshop where students can learn to code, build websites and develop games from mentors who work around the metro area.

“Since it isn’t happening in our schools, it’s rippling up from everywhere else,” Schatz said. “It’s high time for it. It is amazing that it’s 2013 and we are not teaching our kids to code.”

It’s great to see industry and community partners stepping up to fill the gap in education – almost like a call back to mentorship or apprenticeship. I think it’s another sign of the change in the industry of education. Last summer I wrote about another impact of technology on education – specifically the ability to learn online from schools (k12 to top universities) with or without getting credit. I think we’re at a crossroads in education and how we teach will change a lot in the next decade with schools partnering with businesses and offering more personalized solutions to individual students.


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