Farnell element14 helps educators apply physical computing in schools and universities to address the digital skills gap

Farnell element14, the Development Distributor, has launched a new area on its transactional website to help educators and education resellers identify what they need to teach coding and physical computing in schools and universities.

According to the Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum1, developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology are building on and amplifying one another to drive a change in the skills demanded from school leavers. There is growing demand for skills such as creativity, critical thinking and complex problem solving to address future changes in job types, as an estimated 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t exist today.

Jonathan Smith, Head of Education at Premier Farnell and Farnell element14, says: “A whole generation of students will be leaving education to join a workforce where computational thinking skills such as critical thinking and complex problem solving will be valued more highly than ever. Preparing students for this change is about more than creating a generation of coders.

Farnell element14’s aim is to put the right educational devices into the hands of educators to help them develop these new skills in the classroom, with children as young as 5 years of age at pre-school, right through to professional development. Without computational thinkers it will become increasingly difficult to produce electronics engineers who have the skills required to meet the changing needs of the digitally-driven marketplace.”

Physical computing is a key piece of the computational thinking puzzle as the process of making something real, especially in teams, is seen to produce staggering results, not only in terms of effective learning but also in skills development. Applying this with physical computing platforms such as the Raspberry Pi and BBC micro:bit, accessories or other devices that enable students to learn about, for example, robotics, provides students with a way to develop these competencies in a highly creative and collaborative way.

To make it easier for educators as they identify which technology platform will be right for their students, Farnell element14’s new education pages group available platforms, specialist accessories, and kits for education, by age and ability. Also available are links to education resources that help apply the technology in the classroom, from lesson plans and project guides/ideas and access to a community of engineers and educators on the element14 community STEM academy. This new resource provides a helping hand to educators whether they are taking their first steps in teaching using technology or are experts in the field, focussed on computer studies or across the curriculum, all over the world.

Ralf Buehler, SVP of Sales and Marketing for Premier Farnell added: “As the Development Distributor, Farnell element14 is committed to helping develop the next generation of engineers, yet the pace of change in the industry is exceptional, and we know that educators are not always equipped with the resources they need to be able to make decisions on technology and equipment to use in the classroom. These new pages apply our industry experience to help them decide upon the right tools to inspire students of different ages. In addition, our element14 community STEM academy provides educators with a place to connect with others, share successes, and seeks solutions to the challenges they face.”