Creative technologies and future careers

CTD picIan Thompson, University of the Arts London’s Head of Extended Schools Partnerships, coordinated the schools’ engagement in Creative Technology Day 2014. Here, he takes a moment to feedback on aspects of the event.

“It was fantastic to be part of an event that brought together people with different expertise, backgrounds and ages around a common curiosity:  How can technology be put to creative use.”

“It was not only inspiring to see the work from Thornhill, Winton and the Bridge School where young people are getting to grips with coding languages and developing innovative projects within classes and extra curricular clubs, but it was also exciting to watch the primary school pupils interrogating other participants about work that they had on show – people such as computer scientists from Arup, and robotics engineers from Imperial College London.

Show and Tell interactive space with people, robots, microcontrollers, mini-museums, arse prints...

In an excellent discussion about careers within creative technology, participants explored opportunities and challenges of an emerging educational and professional sector that as yet is without a clearly defined and understood career path, but that will almost certainly involve navigating a network of employers and projects – a culture of career-long ‘up-skilling’. There were parallels drawn to the film industry forty years ago, that from the outside appeared incomprehensible and incoherent, with unclear roles and products.

When considering how education prepares young people for this world, we considered the impact of a certain democratisation of educational technology through free products and trial periods, and heard about the Brit-School’s successful vocational approach to training students for digital careers involving placements and connections with industry. Whilst acknowledging the complexity of personal devices in schools, we also talked about apparent nervousness and issues around control within schools with regard to digital technologies, and the possible missed opportunities in, for example, not allowing students to use the smartphones in their pockets in the classroom.

We considered if Higher Education was currently the best route to employment and delegates were intrigued to hear about opportunities such as those offered by the Peter Thiel Foundation where young people are paid to develop entrepreneurial digital projects rather than go to University. Paradoxically, Microsoft’s research facility is run in a similar way to a University Computer Science department, with professors leading research projects and success measured in part by academic publication.”