5 Tech Trends in Education

Technology has completely transformed the way we go about our daily lives, and education is no exception. True enough, 95% of teachers today have started incorporating tech into the classroom—from elementary and middle school, to college and grad school.

Below, we look at some tech trends taking over the world of education, and making learning more interesting.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is nothing new, and especially not for learning. Duolingo, for instance, is an AI-powered app that teaches its users a semester’s worth of language lessons. In actual schools, the uses of AI are much less developed but no less impressive. While any machine can check multiple choice answers, only AI systems are advanced enough to mark essays, which is what programs like PEG and KAT do. They’re still in their infancy stage, but as they read more papers, the better they become at checking.

Virtual Reality

In terms of immersion, no technology does the job better than virtual reality (VR). While they were mostly popular with video games like Resident Evil, schools have taken VR to conduct some in-house “field trips”. With the power of this technology, they are able to teach students about Roman history or the ecology of a jungle by letting them “see” the locations via VR headsets. Some games are even being used in physical education, to make the idea of moving more fun and filling.

3D Printing

Previously, 3D printing was reserved for complex industries. In the manufacturing world, for instance, making a PCB with a 3D printer requires a high level of expertise and skill. Aside from properly designing each component, you also have to know how to configure the 3D printer itself. Fortunately, this technology has become much more accessible across other sectors—including education. In fact, some schools have started teaching students how to use 3D printers to create different models. Aside from that, it’s a good way to hone their conceptual and innovative thinking.

Ed Games

Computer games have always made activities more engaging, so it’s no surprise to see them used in schools. There are games such as Minecraft: Education and Cities: Skylines, which are purposefully made for student learning. Teachers are free to use them to teach their students neat topics, like programming and economics. There’s even an annual event for ed games, called the Games Education Summit, which is sponsored by big industry names like Unreal Engine and Epic Games. 

Online Learning in K-12

Online learning used to be something reserved for higher education, but not anymore. Over 2.7 million students across the country are taking part in digital learning, and many of them are K-12 enrollees at online public schools. This shift is brought about by modern educators who have started acknowledging that every student learns differently and at their own pace. For one, others may be more interested in practical, career-based lessons, which are only offered in certain online courses. Whatever the reason, having online learning become more accessible at all levels, has been nothing but beneficial for student learning.

To keep students interested in the prospect of learning, classrooms have always strived to be more engaging. And with technology proving to be more inventive each day, schools are adapting to find exciting applications accordingly.

 

Written by: Nancy Johnson

Interview Questions For Hiring

Some of today’s hiring managers rely on unconventional questions to identify talent. Google’s famous interview questions have inspired a generation of interviewers who try to outsmart and confuse candidates with complex brainteasers.

This style of interviewing is going out of fashion though, but it still pays to be a little creative when speaking to applicants, as you need to dig deep and ask interview questions to determine skill, cultural fit and intelligence. With this in mind, we’ve put together a collection of the top interview questions that will show you whether any candidate is a fit for you.

1. How Did You Hear About The Job?

While seemingly innocuous, this question serves an important purpose. You need to know whether the messaging your company is investing in is resonating with the right candidates. Make a note of the answers to see whether specific trends emerge.

2. Do You Know What Our Company Does?

This is simple but effective; it shows you how much research a candidate has done.

In an ideal world, you just want to hire candidates that are genuinely excited about a job at your company, not just a job in general. The goal is simply to find out if a candidate has put a little time in on your website and looked through online materials.

3. Why Did You Apply For This Role?

We all need to pay the bills, but it’s important to check that this is not the sole motivation for a candidate. They’re likely to be a more productive and happy employee if they identify with your company in some way.

4. What is the Best Job You’ve Had Before This One?

This gives you the opportunity to compare their likes with what your job entails and how your company operates. You can compare your company culture by having them outline the responsibilities they enjoyed, or what their colleagues were like.

5. Explain a Time When You Missed a Deadline or Made a Mistake?

This question can measure two things: is the candidate willing to be honest and vulnerable? Do they view failure as a learning curve or shift blame? You can also discover if the task was their responsibility, if they were part of a team, and how the problem was resolved.

6. What’s Your Definition of Hard Work?

Some companies move at very different paces. Projects that might be allocated a week at a large corporate might be expected in a few days time at a fast growing start-up. This question is a great way of telling you whether a candidate can keep pace with your team and fit in with your company’s culture.

7. Explain Something That Is Complicated, But You Know Well

This is one of the best tests of intelligence far more effective than a college education or test score and a great way to gauge passion. The “something” in question doesn’t have to be anything to do with the job. The key thing to focus on is the way that the candidate breaks down a complex idea and the way that they articulate it to someone they know doesn’t understand it.

8. If You Had 1,000 Unread Emails, But Could Only Answer 50 of Them, Which Ones Would You Answer?

Despite the subject matter though, this question isn’t about email. The point of this question is to demonstrate how candidates approach work and how they prioritize tasks. You want to understand their process for attacking a project that, on the face of it, seems difficult to deal with.

9. Who is the Smartest Person You Know? Why?

This is a great way to see what a candidate values and aspires to. By forcing them to think of someone that they know personally, you avoid a stream of people praising Steve Jobs and telling you how much they aspire to be like him. There are no perfect answers here, but the best should focus on a specific characteristic, candidates might praise a friend’s desire for learning or networking ability.

10. Do You Have Any Questions?

The classic way to finish the interview, this question is important for a number of reasons. It gives the candidate a chance to follow up on any talking points from the interview, it lets them dig into issues that you haven’t covered in enough detail no interviewer can explain everything and it shows you how much research a candidate has done about your company.

Although a candidate might give you an unexpected response, their attitude could be a breath of fresh air that adds value to your company. The world around us is continually evolving and so must your business if you want to remain competitive. Consider diversity when compiling, asking and analyzing your job fit interview questions list.

Skills Needed in Our Workforce

Every job has essential hard skills and experience necessary for the work. Even though these skills are extremely important, there are specific soft skills that organizations look for when hiring workers. Here are the soft skills that today’s top employers focus on.

Conflict Management

When gathering people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives in a high-pressure environment, conflict naturally arises. But despite its prevalence in the workplace, many leaders feel uneasy dealing with conflict.

This discomfort arises from a variety of situations, but some of the most common ones include demonstrating vulnerability, recognizing employee achievements, and delivering the company goals in a genuine way. Employers need leaders that can identify the signs and stages of conflict escalation, how to de-escalate conflict, and how to recover broken workplace relationships.

Stress Management

Stress has become an increasingly common part of the modern work experience. The sheer volume of projects, as well as the invasion of work into their personal life, often overloads employees.

Sustained high stress at work is linked to employee burnout, a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Employees that can manage their stress, and practice good work-life balance, are more productive in the long-term than workers that can’t.

Communication Skills

Bing a good communicator is one of the skills that often define a good manager. Executives and managers are clear, concise, and honest in their verbal and written communications, but also effective listeners.

Nonverbal communication skills are also important. In business, understanding nonverbal cues are crucial to sending the right message, as well as interpreting those of others. Most aspects of nonverbal communication are often forgotten, such as body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to be aware of, control, and express their emotions, and understand and influence the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is a necessary ability in work environments that are high stress, have tight deadlines, and have people being moved from team to team for different projects.

It is desirable for organizations to employ people who are able to control their emotions, work together to complete projects, and be effective team members. Workers with high emotional intelligence can improve productivity, efficiency and team operations.

Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful skill that can captivate an audience, hold their attention, and motivate them to action. Listening to a story activates different parts of the brain, leading us to see and feel the things the storyteller is describing.

Employees on certain teams like sales and marketing likely already know the power of a good story, but anyone can benefit from their storytelling skills. It can help employees improve their presentation skills, professional networking abilities, and internal team building.

Change Management

In the coming years, we’re expecting some major changes in the workplace: automation and AI will replace some jobs while dramatically changing others. The very nature of employment is also changing, with an increase in remote work and the prevalence of the gig economy.

Change can be overwhelming, but there are ways to help employees more effectively navigate and accept change. By having employees that can adapt quickly, learn new skills, and embrace change, organizations can grow faster and stronger.

Leadership and Persuasiveness

Leadership is not simply being the one in charge and leading a team. It is the ability to persuade other employers, including your peers. Employers need people that can work alongside other people, be able to explain to them their expert opinions and persuade them to make decisions that align with their ideas.

This is an extremely valuable trait as team members are viewed as subject matter experts in their field for the projects they are going to be working on. Team members that are persuasive leaders move from project to project, using their skills to ensure their part of the project is finished on time. Persuasive peer leadership is an admirable trait that will ensure teams are successful.

Analytical and Quantitative Skills

Quantifying information is assigning numerical values to pieces of information, and sorting that information for analysis. This is a highly desirable skill due to the amount of information that is being gathered on a daily basis.

Employers want people with the ability to think critically and analytically. They’re able to collect data on employee performance, project completion, or any number of business activities. Employees that are able to identify trends in large amounts of information are in high demand.

Strong Work Ethic

A strong work ethic is the drive to be working and do well. Finding and hiring people that possess a strong work ethic is key to the success of any employer. A strong work ethic is hard to teach, and harder to maintain if it doesn’t exist already.

Self-realization, self-reflection, and dedication to change on a person’s part can create a stronger work ethic, but employers do not have time or the inclination to help a person develop this essential skill.

Gifts for Kids Interested in Technology

In an age of digital music, ecommerce, and social media, it’s easy to see that technology is the future. Knowing this, it’s more important than ever before to educate our younger generations on the mechanics and programming of modern computerized electronics. 

Programs that incorporate STEM and STEAM courses into their curriculum open doors to jobs in the tech and science industry. An acronym standing for science, technology, engineering, art and math, STEAM programs introduce children to advanced tools and skills that will be highly valued in years to come. 

Of course, to keep kids learning happily, a healthy balance of work and play needs to occur. Providing tech-related toys and gifts to your little ones gives them the best of both worlds. Incorporating all the fun of traditional play with an educational element. 

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s a prime time to look at some of the latest and greatest tech toys and games on the market. At iCodeSchool we firmly believe that children are the future, and the future is technology. We provide classes, after-school programs, and summer camps so kids can unlock their hidden potential in STEAM-based industries. To help parents encourage this style of learning, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite toys. Here they are.

Cozmo: The Coding Robot 

Cozmo was developed and released in 2016 and has made quite a splash in the coding games industry. An AI companion, Cozmo provides hours of companionship, games, and coding fun. Cozmo isn’t just a coding toy, he offers plenty of ways to interact and enjoy with more than 100

personality upgrades, 35 mini-games, and a variety of corresponding apps.

 Cozmo’s sandbox coding mode is perfect for beginners, showing children the basics of computer programming as they design actions for Cozmo. Here, your child can make Cozmo sneeze, laugh or sing with code. The constructer feature is an intermediate coding component, allowing kids to create full games to play with Cozmo.

Piper Computer Kit 

For a more advanced look at coding, and the electronics side of computer operation, the Piper Computer Kit is a great choice. The Piper kits come in a variety of themes, including the widely popular Minecraft theme. For ages 8 and up, this STEAM toy introduces children to build, connect, and code. Combining unique problem-solving strategies with circuitry design, hardware manufacturing and more, your child will nurture their tech side and have fun while they learn.

Once the hardware side of the Piper Computer Kit is complete, kids use Google’s Blockly coding language to create their own Minecraft StoryMode games. This gives children a sense of purpose, completion and self-esteem as they maneuver new technology in an exciting way.

Squishy Circuits 

No kid can say no to a jar of fresh modeling clay. Therefore, Squishy Circuits is the perfect blend of science, technology and art. Using conductive yet insulating dough, this children’s learning activity teaches electrical circuitry in a safe and interactive way. Your child can explore the ins and outs of electricity, connectivity and science through a series of inventive creations. With lights, sounds, and squishy dough, it’s a hit for kids 8 and up.

Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets Book 

A book for the prankster in your house, Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets is loaded with instructions to build simple yet brilliant tech gadgets. Some of the activities inside include: 

  • How to Wire a Motion Sensor
  • Build Your Own Alarm System
  • Create a Push-Button Device
  • Program a Gadget with Funny Sounds

The book comes with some materials to create tech projects and play fun practical jokes on family and friends. It’s a unique way to help your child form an interest in technology and science while reading and playing.

Enroll in a STEAM Course 

Another wonderful gift idea for children interested in science and technology is enrolling your kiddo in a STEAM course. There are plenty of options for beginners and advanced kids, and many programs highlight on popular brands like Minecraft, Roblox, and more.

STEAM courses provide interactive science and technology learning with support from a mentor. Kids learn together with peers to navigate computer programs, build their own apps, create online games, and much more. 

These are just a few of the popular STEAM gifts to increase your child’s interest in science and technology. To foster these skills early and improve basic understanding of electronics, coding, and special awareness, try some of these gifts together.

The State of the Elementary School Education System

The American school system begins at age 5 or 6, depending on which state you reside in. Following primary or kindergarten at age 5, students reach elementary school for grades 1 through 5. Grades 6 to 8 are considered middle school or junior high, while 9 to 12 are high school levels. Most students graduate at the age of 17 or 18, although some choose to leave school (drop out) at 16 – which is discouraged. Some states only require students to remain in school until age 16.

Graduating results in a diploma, following which approximately 1 out of every 3 students go on to achieve higher education at college or university. University-level learning then prepares students to enter the workforce.

While the American education system ranks second, falling just below the United Kingdom and just above Canada – it hasn’t evolved much in terms of teaching material.

What Our Students are Missing

The world has evolved at a drastic level over the past few decades. Smartphones, tablets and computers are in every household, and internet was even declared a basic human right by the United Nations in 2016. With all this change you’d expect updates to educational programs in schools to support student advancement into modern technology. Unfortunately, many of the classes remain the same.

In the United States, each state regulates curriculum differently. It’s then broken down again at a regional level and decided by individual school districts as to which courses are taught where. On average, most elementary students in the country will be taught basic math, science, reading, social studies, language arts, music and art. Standardized testing takes place in higher levels of learning to evaluate whether students are obtaining the information evenly throughout American schools.

While all these subjects are valuable in life and in future education, they fail to deliver the tools and skills necessary to live up to modern technological standards.

What Does This Mean for Future Generations?

It’s become apparent that science, technology, engineering, and math make up much of the information required to power modern and future technological needs. Programming computers, designing software and making robotic equipment function are all increasingly important jobs. Yet, studies show that 52% of adults describe the lack of interest in STEM programs to be based on intimidation.

As of 2016, only 13% of American employees were active in STEM careers. The other 87% of the population chose alternative career paths. This means that less than 15% of the entire U.S. population are employed in positions, which focus on science, technology, engineering and math; the basic skills that comprise much of the technology we covet so much as a society.

This could be detrimental to future generations. A fear of STEM education reflects on current skill levels. If children are intimidated because they believe these courses to be too difficult, could it be that as a society we aren’t providing them with enough education in these fields?

The world won’t ever stop advancing in technology. As it becomes more and more ingrained in our society, the importance of understanding it is crucial to its evolution. If American children are missing these integral pieces of the technology puzzle, will they be left behind as the rest of the world advances into STEM-based jobs?

In China, students focus heavily on STEM, and this has become more apparent in recent years. However, even as far back as 2013, China saw 40% of its student population graduate into a STEM field. This is over twice as many students as the U.S. for the same year. To China’s 4.7 million STEM graduates, India had 2.6 million students pursue STEM careers. The United States, however only witnessed 568 thousand graduates from STEM programs.

The Importance of STEM and STEAM Extracurricular Programs

With the lack of support for STEM in the classroom and the fear many students have in pursuing courses pertaining to technology – it’s more important than ever that students have access to STEM extracurriculars. Fortunately, programs like those at iCodeSchool support science, technology, engineering, art, and math education.

They offer students placement in afterschool programs, summer camps, high school “boot camps”, off-campus programs, and even a series of family learning opportunities. The focus of these programs is on providing students with the information required to feel confident in selecting more STEM programs at a university level – and eventually as a career path.

Interested in learning more about iCodeSchool, STEM programs and how they can improve your child’s aptitude for technology? Contact us today or check out our programs online.