IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

We don’t need no EdTech control

26th November, 2020 Education

Context: Children are being made to learn about complex aspects of computer science without any knowledge of real-world needs

  • With schools being closed for nearly eight months due to the pandemic, parents are worried about their children’s education.
  • Some parents have seen this period as an opportunity to enrol their children in classes or courses where they can gather new skills or deepen their learning in mathematics, science and computer science.

Too much, too soon

  • It is true that computers are part of our daily lives.
  • Children are curious to know how a few semiconductor chips are able to deliver such powerful experiences, just as they are curious about other facts of life such as how the human body works, how airplanes fly, or how governments are formed.
  • While children broadly know how some things work, they don’t know how exactly these things work.
  • They take age-appropriate courses to learn the finer details. That is part of learning.
  • However, what we see with computer science is that children are being fast forwarded into learning about aspects of programming languages, data structures and algorithms.
  • Some are even being taught to develop mobile applications, games, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Navigating the world of EdTech

  • Computer science doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
  • Some areas like theoretical computer science, operating systems and networking are focused on improving computer systems, but a lot of the work also involves identifying new areas of application for which children need more knowledge.
  • AI involves search and logical deductions to optimise an objective function so that computers can pretend to be intelligent.
  • Machine learning is used when the normal rule-based systems are difficult to manage manually and we need an automated way to create these rules.
  • Just because computer systems are becoming powerful doesn’t mean that children can easily jump on the bandwagon without much knowledge of the rest of the world.

Back to the basics

  • Instead, more children could learn the basics of computing and what it means to develop an algorithm to solve a task.
  • Children have plenty to learn in science and social studies, for which the ability to read and write is far more essential, rather than being trained as app developers and innovators.
  • This will enable them to be more knowledgeable. Perhaps there is no better way to do this than by reading literature.