Grok Academy and Wisetech discuss their new partnership that’s preparing more students for digital futures, supporting further development of computer programming in Australian schools, and funding better tools for in-class computing education.
Cultivating curious and agile minds that make the world better through technology is an important part of Grok Academy’s ethos – an Australian educational tech company that specialises in developing cohesive education programs for teaching computer programming at the primary and secondary level.
Following Wise Tech Global’s recent commitment to a five-year partnership pledging an annual sponsorship of 1% of its before-tax profits, Grok Academy announced that all of its computing courses, content, and resources will be free for every Australian student, teacher and parent from 2023.
As part Grok Academy’s mission to make computer programming education more accessible to Australians, the funding boost is enabling the company to remove all barriers to its computing education programs and pour more funding into better tools and technology for in-class computing education in Australian schools.
“We are excited to make our platform free for all Australian students, to help us achieve our goal of making digital literacy an integral part of every student’s education,” Ms Christie McMonigal, Marketing Manager at Grok Academy, tells Education Matters.
“One way we have achieved this is by creating engaging in-class programming activities that facilitate meaningful learning experiences for students and encourage them to solve programming problems creatively.”
Ms McMonigal said this includes exposing a wider and more diverse group of students to computing education than in the past.
“Historically, many schools would hesitate to reach out to us because they assumed that they could not afford to invest in our programs,” she explains. “But WiseTech’s funding has allowed us to remove those economic barriers and make our learning platform universally accessible to students and teachers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Grok Academy also offers a flexible range of digital and “unplugged” resources for teachers to build a computing curriculum. In places where internet connection may be an issue, Grok provides resources and activities that teachers can provide to keep students engaged in learning about technology, even if they don’t have access to computer.
Since the announcement reached Grok Academy’s digital channels, Ms McMonigal says there has already been a significant increase in teachers signing up to the platform to explore the options available to them. Additionally, more students have been signing up for the competitions that Grok Academy hosts, such as the flagship NCSS Challenge and Cyber Comp. Cyber Comp runs twice a year – a competition encouraging cybersecurity skills and investigating ways to ensure students aren’t sharing too much information online and that their information is secure.
“We have seen a lot of new schools signing up and teachers are excited about what this will allow them to do in the classroom. Groups are forming across our platform to organise after school coding clubs, run by teachers and students,” says Ms McMonigal.
“This is equally exciting for us because we want to inspire students to code outside of the classroom too. Ultimately, we want computing to become a life-long passion for young Australians.”
A LONG-TERM SOLUTION TO THE CURRENT SKILLS SHORTAGE
According to Mr Richard White, CEO and Founder of the ASX-listed tech titan WiseTech Global, the technology sector in Australia is growing at an unprecedented rate. Therefore, he says it is critical that educators focus their efforts on fostering computer programming skills in students at the primary and secondary level to ensure Australia has a robust pool of future-ready, local tech talent.
The Tech Council of Australia forecasted that Australia would require an additional 653,000 tech workers by the end of the decade, and tech job vacancies are expected to triple during that period. In line with the tech sector’s growth, a diverse range of new and exciting career paths are also expected for those entering the workforce, according to Mr White, who underscores the benefits of working in tech.
“The tech world gives people the opportunity to combine creative thinking abilities with problem solving skills to address real-world challenges,” he says. “In addition to this, the tech industry also offers better job security, greater work-life flexibility, and more diverse areas of interests and specialisations – everything from software development to cybersecurity to data analysis and engineering.”
Mr White’s passion for technology education is evidenced by the depth of his knowledge in the field. To cultivate a passion for technology, he suggests that early exposure to digital and technology in the classroom will be critical for encouraging students to discover a passion for technology.
“Our research has shown that positive learning experiences in primary school and in the early high school strongly influences what students elect to study in tertiary education, and it is our hope that through our partnership with Grok Academy, we can have a positive influence on the next generation,” he concludes.
To learn more more about Grok Academy’s learning platform, visit grokacademy.org