With technological advancements influencing nearly every aspect of one’s life, a significant overhaul is also taking place in the education systems. Coding education, which has been considered as the key to power the digital generation, has been integrated in the school curriculums of many countries. In fact, a recent survey by Euractiv showed that 15 European Union countries including Austria, Denmark, Spain, Portugal and the UK have already integrated coding in their curriculum. On the other side of the globe, 40% of American schools now offer coding classes with New York, city with largest public school system pledging to offer computer science classes to all 1.1 million students by 2020 and Los Angeles also promising the same by 2020, according to a Gallup report.
While the rise of digital revolution certainly pushed coding into classrooms, it is not the primary reason why so many countries are implementing coding into their education systems. According to Burning Glass, there is a growing number of job openings requiring coding skills, with the rate of coding jobs growing 12% faster than the market average. Coding promotes a new way to think and rationalize the world and also encourages computational thinking so that the next generation can apply the algorithm whenever facing problems.
With the aim to develop the easiest yet most effective package for programming, SK Telecom launched a smart learning robot named “Albert” in 2012, which not only features a friendly design but also includes numerous features for interactive learning such as embedded speaker/microphone, navigation/voice recognition, and Bluetooth connection with a smart device.
As the company continued its development, applying ICT-technologies like sensors, SK Telecom was also able to introduce a special block-based programming language called STACK and applied it to Albert in 2014. STACK challenges users with missions for software programming and gradually advances to higher levels in a game-like format, adding fun to the learning process, thereby allowing users at every age and level to learn and enjoy coding more easily.
Furthermore, in 2014, SK Telecom launched Smart Robot Coding School, the world’s first total learning package that provides coding education for children aged between 6 and 10 years through Albert, STACK, diverse learning tools and materials. The company made it possible for children to learn coding while solving game-like challenges, and naturally develop reasoning, problem solving skills, and creativity.
A total of 20,000 units of robots have been exported worldwide so far including China, Taiwan, France, Spain, Vietnam, UAE, and South American region, and the Smart Robot Coding School program is also currently being supplied to many countries including France, Spain, Taiwan, China, Brazil, and the UAE, primarily targeting schools, institutions, and governments.
The successful coding education system has also been presented at many exhibitions and conferences where it was praised for its innovation. As an example, SK Telecom brought its smart robots at the ‘Mobile Explorers Club’ for children at MWC 2015, providing young science lovers with hands-on experience of robot coding education using its smart robots.
SK Telecom also demonstrated technologies applied in smart robot’s usages in education during Mobile Learning Week, a global summit discussing the impact of mobile telephone on education and learning, for three years in 2011, 2013, and 2014, as requested by UNESCO. The innovation success continues with the company being the very first network provider to be invited to the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA).
Most recent recognition was made in Barcelona, Spain during GSMA’s Youth Mobile Festival. In February 2017, SK Telecom introduced Smart Robot Coding School to the children in Spain, inspiring the young generation in Spain to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, art/design, and math (STEAM) disciplines. SK Telecom also is currently in talks with the Government of Peru to launch the program for children of Peru.
As the only company that both develops coding products and runs educational programs, the needs of users are deeply reflected in the development stage, making coding education applicable to a wider group of consumers. As part of the effort, SK Telecom is currently in the process of developing a new innovative coding education method through voice by applying voice recognition technology to Albert.
Globally, SK Telecom plans to expand its project conducted with IDB to all regions of Latin America, including Costa Rica, and to cooperate with the New Zealand government to join its project for kindergarten and elementary school students’ education using ICT. The company thereby plans to contribute to the improved software education of children worldwide.