Week in Review: #mydigitalmaker boosts Malaysia’s efforts to keep up
By Karamjit Singh December 30, 2017
- Secondary school kids in Malaysia to be exposed to coding via Design Technology/Comp Science
- Computational thinking methodology as part of teaching tool kit expands to more teachers
ONE of the stories I enjoyed covering the most last year was the #mydigitalmaker initiative that is designed to help catalyse Malaysians to move from being a nation of consumers to producers, in the digital economy.
In particular, I was pleased that computational thinking was being introduced into the national school curriculum, as part of this initiative. That itself was a four year journey of planning, getting stakeholder buy-in, training teachers, launching a pilot, measuring results and making adjustments before computational thinking was added to the school curriculum this year.
Significantly, computational thinking was not just added as a standalone option but embedded as part of a teaching tool for teachers to use in imparting their lessons.
So it was exciting for me to catch up with Sumitra Nair, vice president, talent & digital entrepreneurship, Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) for an update of the initiative. Clearly things are moving along in this private-public-academia initiative to transform Malaysian youth from digital users to producers in the digital economy.
Like the vast majority of nations, Malaysia finds that its citizens are eager consumers but not creators in the digital economy and that means that they are not capturing must of the value being created in the digital economy.
The #mydigitalmaker initiative, led by the MDEC, is one key effort to redress this imbalance in the future. Clearly no time frame can be set for such an effort but it is good to see the urgency being shown.
For instance, in terms of the teaching curriculum, this January, computational thinking was introduced nationwide into the Standard 1 curriculum (Year 1) with Computer Science (CS) being an elective for Form 1 and Form 4 (Year 7 and Year 10). And come January 2018, we are going to see computational thinking embedded into the teaching curriculum of Standard 2 (Year 2), Form 2 and Form 5 (Year 7 and 11).
In another exciting development, while students in Malaysian secondary schools have an option to take CS or Design Technology, going forward coding and CS will be embedded into Design Technology which means that whatever a student chooses, they will be exposed to coding and CS.
And this urgency, in terms of having computational thinking methodology, coding and CS imbued in imparting learning to students is appreciated by parents as well – as witnessed by the 20,000 strong crowd that overwhelmed MDEC and its partners during the Sept My DigitalMaker Fair that was held in KL. MDEC was expecting 5,000 at most.
But Sumitra tells of parents coming with children in tow, eager to discover what some of the future jobs will be and what skills set their children will need in order to be relevant, amidst scary headlines of software, automation and robots taking over jobs.
It’s a good sign that parents are concerned about their children’s ability to compete in the future job market because I think this will lead most of them to encourage their kids to be more tech savvy, especially from a coding perspective. And, thanks to #mydigitalmaker, their children are getting this exposure and hands-on experience now, be it in school or in the Digital Maker Hubs that are beginning to pop up. These are physical labs equipped with tools such as 3D printers and Arduino, robotics and Raspberry Pi kits, and other coding and computing related tools.
I believe having basic coding knowledge and programming skills is going to become a must have foundational skill in the world school kids are growing up into. All nations in Southeast Asia have to prepare now, Malaysia is on the way, along with Singapore which just this year, introduced the Phython programming language to 19 secondary school under the subject called, Computing.
With that, let me end my final Week in Review column for the year with my customer wish for you to have a restful New Year weekend and a Blessed and Bountiful 2018.