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FROM OUR PARTNERS: Acer CloudProfessor fosters STEM growth

 

 

Skills are critical to preparing students for a rapidly changing workforce. Acer explains how its CloudProfessor technology will equip students for the jobs of the future. 

Contemporary research shows 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations will require science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to a 2014 report by the federal government statutory authority, the Office of the Chief Scientist.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s future report noted that strong performance in STEM is critical to the education sector, and demand for these subjects is only set to grow.

For those unaware of STEM, it stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The subjects are closely aligned in primary and secondary schools across the country, as innovation and digital skills become increasingly important to equipping students for a rapidly changing workforce.

A critical component of STEM is the ability for students to learn computer coding across a range of different year levels in Australian schools. According to the Foundation for Young Australian’s New Work Order 2015 report, at least 50 per cent of workers will need advanced skills to configure and build systems. Coding involves the algorithmic language of computers, and teaches children how computers are built, how they work, helping them to construct their function and behaviour.

Recent data also shows the Australian workforce is rapidly changing. Data compiled by KPMG shows between May 2011 to the same month in 2016, more than 100,000 jobs have been created in professional, science and technology industries.

Acer has taken many of these factors into account when developing the Acer CloudProfessor – a technology that facilitates a range of coding programs. The company says some of its many goals are to create a school culture where the importance of STEM is recognised and valued, expose students and teachers to a wide range of career options, and build on students’ curiosity and connect STEM learning to solving real-world problems.

“We hope to ensure all students nish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills. Part of that involves increasing student’s STEM ability, engagement, participation and aspiration. This is why we have designed the Acer CloudProfessor,” Acer says.

CloudProfessor helps students hone their coding skills by giving them the option of working with a variety of programming languages. The programs include JavaScript, English-like LiveCode, as well as Blockly, which gives younger learners the visual interface they need to begin innovating in the new Internet of Things (IoT) era. The ability to connect to multiple devices at once forms the basis of IoT, which is a system of interrelated computing devices that have the capacity to transfer data over a network.

A variety of devices including PCs, mobile phones and tablets can all connect with CloudProfessor to begin utilising cloud technology and development. The idea aligns with the Australian Curriculum, which notes on its website that students need the knowledge, skills and confidence to make ICT work for them at school, at home and in their communities in order to participate in a technologically sophisticated society now and into the future.

The CloudProfessor App similarly allows students to write down their code ideas wherever they are, teaching them to use multiple devices in the classroom. Acer explains that its CloudProfessor technology is the world’s rst IoT start kit, combining hardware, software and the Cloud.

JavaScript is the programming language of HTML and the Web, which can be used to design the program and how web pages behave, an essential part of computer programming.

LiveCode is a multiplatform development application that allows students to create apps that run on every major device, including iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. Blockly provides a visual way to learn code, by using interlocking, graphical blocks to represent code concepts, a key element for students who learn visually.

CloudProfessor also contains the Arduino development board, which is capable of supporting a wide variety of sensors, including light to temperature and other elements. Acer CloudProfessor features eight different application packages for students to work with, including LED lights, temperature sensors, light sensors and fans.

As computer technologies become embedded in our working lives, it will be critical children are adept in ICT programs to meet skills shortages.

In 2013, Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency’s National Workforce Development Strategy predicted that by 2025, there may be an undersupply of qualifications in the ICT sector. They predicted the industry would grow between 64 and 72 per cent faster than overall employment growth, and accounting for around 5 per cent of all employment in 2025. Critical to this is an understanding of cloud computing, which is a type of internet-based computing that provides shared resources and data to computers and other devices on demand.

“Acer CloudProfessor is the world’s rst IoT starter kit, combining hardware software and the Cloud.”

“It is the easiest way for teachers and students new to the Cloud to learn what it is and how to bring their unique creations into the world,” Acer says.

With a variety of sensors already provided, Acer says its plug and play functionality allows you to easily plug the hardware in and begin using the device.

“Our code and make allows you to explore the cloud over your phone with intuitive and easy to use languages such as JavaScript and LiveCode.”

Acer realise the importance of connecting technology and activities in the classroom to the Australian Curriculum and have therefore partnered with Harvey Norman Business & Education to utilise their education team (that consists of qualified  and experienced classroom teachers) to help with implementation of CloudProfessor in schools. Activities vary from class to class, but will include areas like technology in sustainability to create energy ef cient smart lights, smart fans and more, that link directly to existing Australian Curriculum topics. This helps make students aware of ‘real world’ examples while focusing on creative design and innovative technology solutions.

CloudProfessor also comes with an optional Arduino Robotic Arm, which makes coding and programming in the classroom fun, while allowing them to physically create and program things like factory production lines or execute repetitive tasks that human hands might normally need to do. After all, robotic arms are now being used in a significant number of industries from factory production right through to previously impossible medical procedures!

To achieve their goals, the company is focused on targeting private, independent and public schools. Acer’s national strategy hopes to reach more than 1000 private independent schools nationally, including in excess of 43,000 full-time-equivalent staff and 500,000 students. Another segment of its strategy is public schools, with 116 primary and high schools across the country receiving funding grants to motivate schools to partake in STEM related activities with the aim of improving outcomes.

“Our focus is also on enhancing the professional development of schools across the country,” Acer adds.

“We want to ensure students are comfortable with taking risks and thinking outside the box. For this to happen, teachers need to ask for feedback so that they can reflect on their teaching practice.”

Should you have questions around the content in this editorial or would like to explore a discussion in greater detail please reach out to our Education Team at: education.aca@acer.com