Computer Science and STEM critically important to Australian students future success


Post by Dan Bowen, Microsoft Australia Academic Programmes Manager (STEM Education Lead) / Minecraft: Education Edition PMM. Dan will be at FutureSchools 22-24 March running a workshop on Minecraft: Education Edition and beyond - Building skills for the future.

Computer Science and STEM are critically important to the success of the future of Australia and to every students' ability to compete and thrive in a global market increasingly driven by technology. By the year 2022 we expect 6m new IT jobs around the world and even today we are seeing areas where gaps are starting to open such as Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence using cloud technology.

Microsoft believes every student should have the opportunity to become a designer and creator of technology and not simply a consumer. We bring together the technology and resources to provide to support our teachers and students in Australia innovate and create by helping them plan, design and collaborate to solve real problems for their local businesses, and ultimately the economy.

STEM means so much to so many

STEM is more than the discrete areas of study for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM is everywhere and impacts on all that we do from our health and relationships to our environment and career. Good STEM education promoted innovation and matures problem solving skills, allows us to develop computational thinking with the goal of developing a future ready workforce who can use the technology at their disposal to improve the world around us.

STEM education is also much more than coding. Good STEM education is a creative process that drives collaboration, design and problem solving. When we created Windows 10 for example, we did not lock our coders in rooms on their own. We look at the entire inclusive design experience and there are many people involved from graphics experts, sound engineers, 3D designers and animators all working together on one project.

Many Australian schools are leading the way

Australia already has some amazing case studies of world leading STEM education. One key driver for STEM education is Project Based Learning where students get to work together on rich, authentic learning experiences to drive learning and their skills to the next level.

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Many Australian schools are also already setting up their own makerspaces and moving forward with technology like never before.

The future and how to get there

The future is very hard to predict however we are seeing huge trends locally and globally in Cloud computing, cognitive services, artificial intelligence, machine learning and holographic computing. We are at a tipping point where the abundance of data collected and the internet of things will allow us to be more healthy, productive and safe but will bring more challenges ethically in areas such as robotics and self driving cars.

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the K12 systems around the world, in their effort to develop impactful STEM initiatives, is teacher capacity. Microsoft is investing significantly in programs to prepare and develop highly qualified teachers including the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC), our Microsoft Innovative Educator Program (MIE) programme as well as PD for teachers within Imagine Academy including the MCE certification.  For students we offer comprehensive computer science, data science, IT infrastructure and productivity courses with certifications to allow your students to get ahead with the Imagine Academy.

There are many teachers also using games in the classroom to drive STEM such as Minecraft: Education Edition which can be used to create simple machines, logic gates and immersive environments to develop learning and their skills.

Teachers who want to get started can look at some of the resources online locally such as our mapping of tools to ICT general capabilities, PBL templates and more.

We will be at Future Schools in Melbourne 23-24 March and at EduTech in June as well as many other teacher focused events around the country. 

If you want any STEM support from our local teacher ambassadors or Microsoft Learning Consultants then please contact us. To stay up to date with everything happening in Microsoft Education, make sure you follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our blog, and join the Microsoft in Education community.

You can also check out all our teacher training tools and stay up to date with upcoming training and events on the Microsoft in Education website.

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