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VIEWS & OPINION


Why learning STEM skills from a young age is so important


Comment by MJ CHUN, Director of Product, Anki


Comment by STEVE DEUTSCH, Chief Executive, Wesleyan Bank


Coding was added to the UK curriculum in 2014 but we recently undertook some research which revealed 43% of parents struggle to help their kids with coding homework, meaning that children don’t have the same support at home as with other subjects. This automatically puts many children at a disadvantage when it comes to STEM. We all too regularly talk about the STEM skills gap and we know


that businesses are crying out for STEM skills but it’s difficult to know what ‘STEM’ jobs will look like in the future because of the rapid rate of change when it comes to technology. While those who have grown up with less of a natural affinity for


STEM subjects may find them intimidating, it’s important to remember that one of the most valuable skills that comes from STEM is creativity – something that all of us have to some degree. In addition to facilitating creative thinking, STEM subjects also involve skills like learning to problem-solve, being inventive and learning to fail.


Whilst the adoption of STEM subjects from a young age is


important, what’s also equally important is how children learn STEM. This doesn’t just mean what they learn in the classroom but also the whole ecosystem around their learning. Cozmo, Anki’s AI-powered robot supports people in learning the


basics of coding, and the fundamentals of computational thinking. Cozmo makes creating projects with code fun and accessible, and we have found that many children enjoy not only making customised projects with Cozmo themselves but also collaborating with their parents and peers. Finding role models that children look up to as they learn, whether


it’s a parent, guardian, teacher, sibling or community member, can accelerate and support their learning too. As can having a tool that’s interesting and fun – a Cozmo robot that you can code - to take the first steps into STEM with. This could be from someone who is encouraging them to stick with it, or someone they may see who creates with technology or codes in their job. Having STEM role models can be especially significant for girls, who may not as easily see themselves reflected in STEM fields. Many people think of engineers when they think of STEM subjects


but STEM learning and subsequent skills can support a wide range of different roles. Anki believes that coding and robotics are tools for self-expression and creation, tools that children can use to invent and create with throughout their lives. By adopting STEM-based skills from a young age, children can then apply their tech fluency to an almost endless number of different scenarios. Ultimately, society benefits by having a more creative and


empowered workforce, made up of people who are ambitious, inventive and not put off trying new things in case they fail. The individuals who learn STEM from a young age will grow up


with an understanding that STEM is a communal subject, involving communication, collaboration and systems of support. The key is to cultivate these communities so that more and more


young people grow up not only with STEM skills under their belt, but also with the other applicable skills that go hand-in-hand with them. To find out more about Anki and Cozmo visit www.anki.com


November 2018


How schools can keep pace with the evolving and continuous threat of cybercrime


Research produced by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical has revealed that a fifth of education establishments have been breached by hackers. Schools are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks and are increasingly being tricked into providing sensitive information which can have significant implications for safeguarding children. In addition, finance directors and bursars are being targeted and asked to transfer thousands of pounds. As the media continues to shine a spotlight on cybersecurity breaches and


on educational institutions’ efforts to protect pupil and employee data, and with GDPR legislation now in force, the pressures on IT managers are mounting. They must show not only that they are managing school budgets intelligently, but also that they are being creative in making sure that in adhering to spending limits they are not leaving anything to chance. Cloud-based tools and services, sophisticated ‘big data’ analytics, and


predictive capabilities boosted by artificial intelligence/machine learning offer powerful opportunities to protect critical data – something schools will be increasingly grateful for as their need for protection diversifies to include new points of potential vulnerability. Specialist financing and leasing providers can help educational institutions to bolster their cybersecurity safeguards now. They can offer flexible, affordable financial solutions which have been specifically designed to bridge funding gaps so that schools can source the equipment, skills, services and other essential resources they need, when budgets fall short. It no longer makes sense to spend thousands of pounds on pre-selected


hardware and software upfront – certainly not in the area of cybersecurity where conditions and requirements are changing all the time. With flexible finance or leasing solutions, schools can blend hardware, software and services including consultancy and training into a combined, predictable monthly cost which gives them access to everything they need. And if they want to switch to different solutions or services half way through, they have the freedom to do this: they aren’t locked into an earlier choice only to find that the security threat landscape has moved on and there are more appropriate options available. Cybersecurity as a discipline is only going to become more complex as time


moves on, so there is no advantage to holding back for next developments. Finding the right finance partner now and laying foundations for more fitting, flexible security solutions that will stand the test of time should be a strategic priority for any educational establishment now. Digital transformation is part of school’s ‘big picture’, and cybersecurity must be deeply embedded in those plans to ensure that they can focus on the art of the possible, rather than a fear of ‘what if...?’ Wesleyan Bank’s white paper, ‘Practical steps for keeping pace with a


continuously evolving and increasingly sophisticated threat landscape – without overstretching your IT budget’ looks at the latest development in cyber-crime and cybersecurity options, and options for making budgets go further so that a lack of funding does not become a risk factor in security planning. For more information about Wesleyan Bank’s range of flexible finance and


leasing solutions and to obtain a free copy of the white paper, call 0800 980 9348, email bankcommercialsales@wesleyan.co.uk or visit https://www.wesleyan.co.uk/commercial/finance-and-funding/


www.education-today.co.uk 25


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