Learning in the digital world

School has changed since most Digital Parents were in the classroom. These days, blackboards and chalk have been replaced by interactive whiteboards and iPads. Where there might have been one computer in the library 25 years ago, today’s digital children have access to rooms full of digital technology from laptops to recording studios.

These huge leaps forward in technology and its use in schools around the world, including Qatar, have affected the way that traditional subjects are taught, and introduced completely new ones to the curriculum.

For example:

- Geography students can use Google Earth to ‘travel’ virtually to every corner of the globe

- Primary school children can play fun games online to develop their numeracy skills

- History students can access articles and journals through the Qatar National Library (QNL) database (free registration required)

- Performing arts students can access music recording studios and video editing suites

The latest smartphones and tablets can record and edit music and video, take photographs, and draw and paint digital images. Whether it’s at school or at home, digital technology has opened up a world of new opportunities for young people to express their creativity.

Digital technology and education

There are three main areas of learning that Digital Parents should be aware of when finding out about the way that the internet and digital technology have had an impact on their children’s education.

ICT skills

As digital technology has expanded into every area of modern life, the need for our children to understand and be able to use it has never been more important. Teaching ICT skills in Qatar’s schools has become a core part of the curriculum to ensure that present and future generations of Qatar’s young people are ready to work in the digital world.

Learning through technology

As well as learning how to use digital technology itself, our children are increasingly using it as a tool to learn in other areas too. Whether at school or at home, internet-enabled technology and the web are now at the heart of education for children and young people. Visit our expert advice section where you can read about just one way in which digital technology is being used as an educational tool.

Accessing information

Finally, the internet has opened up a world of information. In just seconds our digital children can access facts and figures about almost any subject. It is so much easier to use a search engine like Google or Yahoo than to go to a library and find a book.

However, there is a problem with this approach to fact-finding; not everything on the web is reliable! Anybody can publish on the internet, and as a result there can be a lot of inaccurate, outdated and even deliberately misleading information. Visit the ‘internet safety’ page on the Vodafone AmanTECH website and scroll down for a Digital Parents’ guide to the importance of making sure that the information your children are accessing is trustworthy.

Working in the online world

Many parents came to digital technology much later in life than our children have. Where today’s children start to use laptops and tablets early on in school and at home, previous generations may have spent most or all of their school years and working lives never using a computer for anything more technical than writing an email or typing a letter.

In today’s Digital World, it is difficult to think of careers which do not include at least some element of digital technology. From education to engineering, medicine to marketing, most jobs require at least a basic level of skill with computers and other internet-enabled technology. Some jobs require much more than that, and in this section we will look at just a few of the careers which digital-savvy  young people might consider.

Software engineering

Software engineers are responsible for designing, building and testing the computer programmes which are central to business, education, medicine, engineering, leisure and much more. Whether building complex databases storing vast amount of information, or software to control intricate manufacturing processes, software engineers play a vital role in the modern, digital world.

Data science

In the digital world, the internet allows organisations around the world to store and share an unimaginably large amount of information. This ranges from data collected from the International Space Station and the ground-breaking Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, to information about the spending habits of 45-55 year olds in Azerbaijan and literacy levels among primary school children in rural Australia.

It is the role of a data scientist to work through these vast arrays of data, collecting what they require for a particular purpose, and to analyse it to produce the information they need. Data scientists work across hundreds of different fields, from medical and scientific research to city planning and financial forecasting by governments and banks. As the volume of digital data increases, the role of the data scientists becomes more and more important.

Graphical information systems (GIS)

While “graphical information systems” sounds impressive, and it is, the reality is that anyone who has ordered an Uber, searched on Google Maps or looked at the flight map while sitting on an aeroplane has made use of GIS without realising it.

The role of a GIS technician is to create layers of geographical information which can displayed over detailed, 3-dimensional maps of the Earth. The maps rely on GPS data, and the information can be used in many different ways, including:

-          Displaying road layouts for navigation, i.e. Google Maps

-          Presenting information about oil and gas fields to help oil companies plan their well-drilling activities

-          Mapping information like poverty levels, crime rates and health statistics across a country to spot patterns which might help a government to allocate resources in the best way possible

Information security

In the digital world, companies and organisations from social networks to hospitals, banks and government ministries hold huge amounts of detailed information about individuals around the world. This information is personal, private and incredibly valuable, and much of it is stored on computers around the world which are connected via – you guessed it – the internet.

As in all areas of life, there are people who my want to steal it – from individual hackers to foreign governments – and the job of and information security officer is to prevent this from happening.

Web development

Web developers are computer programmers who work specifically on applications which run over the World Wide Web. The easiest way to sum it up is that web developers create everything that you can view through your internet browser on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. This could be a simple, single page advertising a company selling soap, to the online banking facilities of a powerful, international financial organisation.

Have you applied for a passport online? A web developer designed that system… Ordered a pizza on the internet? You have a web developer to thank for that too! What’s more, as the digital world moves towards “cloud computing” applications like Microsoft Office 365, the role of web developer will become more complex and even more vital to the billions of internet users.