As technology becomes embedded in nearly everything we do, computer science skills and knowledge are in demand everywhere. One way computer science graduates are improving their appeal to certain industries is by adding another specialisation to their degree – and for those adding education skills, a plethora of job opportunities await, particularly for technology in schools.
Education is a huge and growing sector in Australia and New Zealand, providing 50,000 jobs in New Zealand and with an estimated 600,000 people expected to be employed in Australia as education professionals by 2022.
The sector is also a critical source of export income; international students bring around $32 billion into the Australian economy and around $5.1 billion into New Zealand’s economy each year. Demand for education is ongoing and is likely to keep rising; in 1989, just eight per cent of Australians had a university degree; by 2018, that number had climbed to 27.3 per cent. Meanwhile in New Zealand, graduates made up 12.8% of 20-24 year olds in 2012, rising to 20.5% in 2018.
Today’s classroom is already very different from its equivalent a generation ago, with teachers using technology in schools such as electronic whiteboards, collaborative tools, Skyping remote students and distributing texts via PDF rather than on paper.
“Computers and technology do not reduce the importance of the teacher. In fact, the exact opposite is true,” says US tech teaching expert Matt Miller.
Shifting to a different style of teaching
Growing evidence suggests that reading comprehension is better when it is paper-based rather than screen-based, prompting a push towards making better use of a range of technologies in appropriate ways, rather than just transposing old style learning straight onto screens.
Wearable tech is one example of a potential game-changer in education, with devices like Fitbits and VR (virtual reality) displays used in classrooms and in the field. At the University of Technology, Sydney, computer science students use the 360-degree interactive data visualisation facility which allows students and researchers to immerse themselves in data. Meanwhile students and researchers at Macquarie University’s Body Perception Lab are able to track brain signals while using VR displays.
Technology seems to work best when it is applied to a task. Predictions of holographic teachers, for example, fell somewhat short when the real-life practice showed that the technology affected teacher-student interactions and learning.
However simple technology in schools that is transforming classrooms include smartphone quizzes with the Kahoot app, interactive visual tools like Popplet for design and mindmapping – and even a collaborative video making tool such as Flipgrid – all great ways to focus student attention on a central collaborative task.
While computer science and digital technology continue to change how we learn and how classrooms are run in often-unexpected ways, the one thing we can be sure of is that classrooms of the future will be quite different to those of today.
READ MORE ABOUT VR
New Augmented Reality app brings the Periodic Table to life
Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) recently launched a new, free Augmented Reality (AR) app that brings the dusty old Periodic Table well into the digital age.
Using the app, you scan a special ANSTO periodic table poster and the elements are brought to life – they jump off the page, sharing key facts about their properties. “This app is set to change Australia’s science classrooms as we know them,” says ANSTO CEO, Dr Adi Paterson. Find out more: bit.ly/ANSTOapp
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Code 2019.
START YOUR CAREER HERE
CS + EDUCATION STUDY
Bachelor of Teaching / Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Science, University of Adelaide, bit.ly/UniAdBachTeachMathCS
Bachelor of Education (Hons) and Bachelor of Science (Computational Science), Monash University, bit.ly/MonUniBachEduCS
Bachelor of Education / Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) (Conjoint), Victoria University of Wellington, bit.ly/VUWBachEduCS
Bachelor of Education (Technology), University of Waikato, NZ, bit.ly/UniWKTBachEduTech
CS + EDUCATION JOBS
Secondary school teacher, technology and computing:
A$49K–A$97K / NZ$48K–NZ$80K
Corporate trainer, software: A$51K–A$93K / NZ$40K–NZ$88K
Software developer, education apps: A$50K–A$99K / NZ$48K–NZ$91K*
*Source: salaries according to payscale.com
Author: Fran Molloy
FRAN MOLLOY is a freelance journalist and university lecturer whose career has spanned newspapers, radio and online publications. She writes about business, careers, research, science and environment.