Getting More Kids into Computing!

I’ve been working on a range of books with Bright Red Publishing on N5 books (which relates to the new syllabus within Scottish Schools), and just now I’m working on the new N5 Computing book. The syllabus looks to be a great improvement on the previous one, with over half of it on software development, and good coverage of things such as security and databases. It thus highlights a changing work, as we now move towards new subjects within computing.

So many job roles …

brp02Over the past few years I’ve been presenting at events on how we need to get more kids into Computing. So why, in the UK, are we still funding so many university places in subjects in which there are few jobs in? Shouldn’t we be funding more student places in Computing? Few subjects can offer the breadth of jobs that Computing … from software development to network support, and from user interface design to computer security. In fact there’s so many jobs titles that someone entering a computing programme in lots of interesting areas: networking, computer security, software development, media design, mobile devices, web development, and many others. Along with this, there’s new areas such as Cloud Computing, Big Data and lots of developments around mobile devices. So a first year student in a computing degree can often select from a wide range of subjects, and select the one that interests them most, and which, possibly, has the best career options for them.

It’s at the core of everything now …

brp03The Internet is probably one of the greatest creations ever, and one which provides us with the core of the modern world. Without it, many industries such as banking, energy, education and so on, could not exist in their current form. We can see from the increasing creation and consumption of digital information that there is an increasing reliance on the Internet, with over 12TB of tweets every day, and almost 90% of all the data produced in the Cloud has been produced in the last two years. Along with this we see, over 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data being produced – that’s over 1 billion hard disks of data, every day. And the Internet is not just about computer data, we are moving toward digitizing a whole range of media, including with voice, video and sensor data. Along with this, areas such as health and social could be radically changed with digital methods, where patients could Skype with their GP, rather than having to arrange appointments for a face-to-face meeting.

For example … computer security

brp04A good example of the new industries that are being created within Computing, and the rise in the academic requirements is in computer security. Within it there’s a wide range of things to focus on including network security, operating systems, people, encryption, identity, mobile devices, wireless, and so on. Also there’s new applications for the Internet, and new threats occur ever days, especially as we become more mobile and more reliant on the Cloud. Many application areas, including banking, shopping, government services, health care and so on, are all going on-line, increasing the threats we are all under, which thus requires a new range of professionals, which ten years ago would not have even existed … computer security consultants.

Where are the employers …

brp05Well they are everywhere .. with large and small companies expanding from key applications sectors such as in banking to core IT companies. From my side, I see an increasing demand for graduates in computing, and where there is a wide range of companies looking for many graduates. Many years ago I would see graduates move away from Scotland, but now there are companies recruiting them on their home base where companies such as Dell SecureWorks and Amazon recruiting students to work on Princess Street … how great is that? And there’s great SMEs which are leading on an international basis, whether is it miiCard for identity provision, or Rock Star leading the way in computer games, there has never been a better time to get into computing.

So … why don’t we funding more graduate places in computing, and less in areas which struggle to find enough jobs for their graduates?

Introducing Bob and Alice …

brp06Over the past few years, Edinburgh Napier University has been engaging with local schools on creating interest in computing with both IT4U, which bring schools into universities, and provides them with a range of interesting workshops, and with the Cyber Christmas lecture. For this we have presented on a range of things including within computer security, and showing kids some fun things in cracking codes and introducing Bob and Alice. Can you remember the time when you passed secret messages to your friends at school? Well the need for code cracking increases by the day, as we see new threats evolve … so the time is right to engage with these young minds, and get them interesting in some of the new problems that the world faces. It is within areas such as computer security, that we created the architectures of the future, and one in which physical buildings have been replaced with virtual ones.

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