Teaching Technology part 2

Information Technology is an excellent opportunity for a country to improve its standard of living. In order to take advantage of technology, they must change their education system because soon many jobs will be automated, and all future jobs will require certain technical skills.

As educators, we have the responsibility to provide a training program so our students can thrive in this technology-driven economy. However, giving students tablets and laptops and teach them programming is NOT enough, we also have to provide a lifelong learning system where people could learn anything that they need at any time.

Technology training is NOT a subject to be taught in college but must happen early in elementary school and high school. The traditional “rote memorization” learning to pass exams must be replaced by an active learning method where students learn skills such as teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving. More than that, each time work gets automated or replaced by a machine, we must re-train workers to learn a new skill so they can continue to lead productive lives.

To shift the current education from the tradition’s passive learning of knowledge to active learning of skills development requires the re-training of all teachers and educators because learning is a continuous process. Everybody should have the ability to learn and adapt to changes instead of just acquiring a set fixed knowledge. In this new dynamic system, teachers’ roles will change from “knowledge transmitting” to “Skills developing” by provide guidance and support the learning of students as they move from “learning to pass tests” to “applying knowledge and continuous learning”.

For example, in the elementary school, students learn how to write a simple program to instruct the computers to execute actions such as drawing pictures, playing educational games, or perform a simple calculation. They learn to use a computer to search for definitions of difficult words, geography maps, or historical information. At this level, students understand that technology is a creative experience and computer is only a tool for personal expression. At grade 5 to 9, students should grow more sophisticated in their use of the computer and understanding how it works. They use the computer to research more topics to enhance their learning experiences in multiple subjects, from math, science to arts, geography, and history, etc. By the time they go to grade 10 and 12, students should be able to write complex programs to solve problems in a variety of subjects. They should be able to master at least two programming languages such as Java, C or JavaScript.

In this fast-changing world, there is a huge gap between technologically advanced countries and others whose economies are still dominated by light industries and low skill agricultural work. As time goes by, this gap is keeping larger and larger, and without appropriate action to improve their education NOW, their future could be a disaster with high unemployment and a huge deficit.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University