Coding, foreign language of the new era

Hürriyet Gazetesi (26 Ekim 2015)


 It can be a huge loss to realize that after 15-20 years, coding does not mean learning how to write a set of commands. The coding skill, which means telling the computers what to do, makes more sense than writing a few commands one after another. Jeremy Rifkin, in his book ‘The Third Industrial Revolution’, mentions that energy production will become individualized over the next 20-30 years.

The reason for this is that, oil and natural gas-like sources in the past 120 years was in the hand of certain powers in certain regions, while the sun and wind are providing energy production all over the world. Rifkin, says that every house and every garden will become an energy production center with the help of the developing devices. Similarly, it is mentioned today that three-dimensional (3d) printers intensively individualize the ‘industry’ concept.

Even if it is a technologically new product, today 3d printers have entered our houses and offices right away. 3D printers will allow us to create our products in dozens of different sectors from medicine to the aircraft industry, from alimentation to the automotive industry without leaving our house.

Internet of Things Concept

We started to see a similar process of individualization in the world of information. You must have heard the concept of “internet of things”. The computerized devices powered by sensors (sensors) started to surround us so we could interact with a smart ‘thing’ every step we take.

Dozens of different objects and places such as homes, clothes, offices and cars that start with “smart” adjectives provide service by using sensors, processors and the Internet. While these devices provide their services, they analyze the data they store and they even take a decision for us. This process will continue to grow geometrically. Large, very large data warehouses have begun to be formed in relation to the fields of health, production-consumption, transport, education, entertainment, institutions, communities and societies.

The coding and systematic thinking skills are important for the new generation

Every day business and social life have begun to be surrounded by intelligent devices, the tasks that require muscle power are being carried out by computerized machines,  large data warehouses have caused a seemingly remote skill for previous generations mandatory for new generations: Coding! A person who knows coding can program the computers and computerized machines to give them the necessary commands and can add new features and tasks to these devices. Besides, when today’s children grow up, they have to deal with ‘big data’ stored for long time and analyze that big data to reach meaningful results in order to make decisions in every area.  One of the most important mental tools that adults of near future must have is the coding and algorithmic thinking skills. In a sense, the coding skills will be a new ‘language’ skill that allows the children to communicate with computer machines and large data stacks surrounding them, to tell them what to do and to understand the signals that come from them.

We have to introduce the productive side of the informatics to our children

Many countries that are aware of this situation are developing various methods for their children to acquire the foreign language coding and algorithmic thinking skills. The main goal of the adding coding lessons in the primary school curriculum, organizing coding and robotic festivals and competitions is to ensure that today’s children, who will take part in social life and business in 10-15 years, begin to use coding as a basic tool.  We must introduce the projects and activities that will help our children to quickly recognize the “productive side of the informatics” starting with the earliest possible age.

STEM: The natural evolution of education ecosystem!



The changing forms of energy, communication tools and even the concept of labor force has changed the 200 years of education system. Recently, discourses and actions have increased in our country and in many countries to move towards to STEM approach of education. Finland says that the discipline, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry or history, will no longer be a lesson, and that the learning will take place in interdisciplinary studies within the framework of themes. The STEM pilot schools in the US are designed as a direct production base rather than the maker lab or workshops. This change can be seen as the trashing of the old and the beginning of the use of the new method. In education, a working system is never trashed and replaced by unrelated new methods. In fact, education systems continue to evolve in a completely natural process. We see that the transition from the behavioral approach to the cognitive approach and from there to the constructivist approach has transformed each component of the “educational ecosystem” according to the needs that arise over time.

The expressions such as “STEM is a fashionable concept, it all come out in the wash” somewhat show individuals with  “eyeglass” perspective that unfortunately does not bother to think about the periods in which communities and educational systems change, only to connect the phenomenon to the use of computers in classrooms. Mankind has undergone transformations in energy resources and in the tools of communication in history. From utilizing animal power to coal-based steam power, from petroleum-based motor power to electricity, transformation in energy sources has caused radical changes in the social and economic life of individuals and communities. Similarly, changes from telegraph to the wired telephone, radio, television, fax machine, pager, mobile phone and finally internet have caused radical changes in the behavior of social structures and economies. Now the incredible advances in computing technologies, 3D and even 4D printers, unmanned aerial and land vehicles, Industry 4.0 as the Germans called, are about to reduce the need for the oldest power source in history, “muscles” . What I’m trying to talk about here is not only the reduction in the need for human power in industrial production. In many business areas, we are entering a period of time that resets or reduces the need for people physically.  Almost every profession has begun to leave the production and services to the robots, smart devices and softwares. There is nothing to be surprised about if we define the technology as “artificial organs complementing the organs that humans naturally do not possess.” Mankind has always been in search of a mechanism that can do the work that humans cannot do or that can operate in its place. Especially from energy sources in the hands of monopolies like oil towards the renewable energy sources that are always accessible and their increasing efficiency are beginning to accelerate this search. The signals from northern European countries show that these searches are beginning to yield results. After Sweden, some other countries have begun to discuss the shortening of their weekly working hours. After all, they have smart technologies to do business instead! And of course a new generation who can produce them!

Generations that can produce! But what?

S – Science

T – Technology

E – Engineering- Production and Design

M – Math (Even though math is a branch of science it is emphasized because of its importance)

The STEM abbreviation (although we see derivatives such as STEAM, STEM-C in this evolutionary process) gives the message that all basic social sciences and mathematics  with emphasis on informatics technologies need to be involved in production and design activities with interdisciplinary understanding using all kinds of tools available to us. So what do we produce exactly? In short, do our children will make a lot of projects at school ? Perhaps you need a new letter that will help to combine the letters S, T, E and M more meaningfully, which is: E! The letter E we add to the headline as the first letter represents entrepreneurship of the Entrepreneurial word. It would be erroneous to recognize the entrepreneurship simply as merchandising. In the SEECEL project supported by the European Union, entrepreneurship is defined as “using initiative to make your dreams come to life”. The commercial aspect of the project is a secondary concern than the development of a solution or a product. In the process of developing a solution or a product, children will be able to incorporate mathematics, basic and social sciences, information technology, and all kinds of tools into the project. In other words, the aim of the learning will be “learning for curiosity” rather than “learning to learn” which is not inherent to the human being. The critical point here is to ensure that students are able to navigate through a variety of environments where they can explore their own problems and have plenty of observation or designing and presenting the problems in such a way that could encourage the curiosity of the children and designing them as “problems in problem”.

So, why do we need to design an educational method, merging mathematics, social sciences, with informatics and entrepreneurship? Maybe we can explain this in the following image.

In conclusion, rather than trying to identify what STEM (or STEAM or STEM-C or E-STEM) is, we have to use our energy as educators to try to figure out why it is needed and why education is evolving that way .There is not much value in discussions like “STEM is not that but this.” because there is no one who can have an exact description in the world yet. A lot of practice and research will help us keep this evolution process much healthier.

Prof. Dr. Selçuk ÖZDEMİR

Bilişim Garajı Kurucusu

Gazi Üniversitesi Öğretim Üyesi


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