The Importance of Coding Education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Importance of Coding Education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Prof. Lee Tae-wuk
  • 승인 2019.10.18 15:09
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Prof. Lee Tae-wukDepartment of Computer EducationKorea National University of Education
Prof. Lee Tae-wukDepartment of Computer EducationKorea National University of Education


The modern society is changing faster than ever before. The main concepts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR): superintelligence, hyperconnectivity, and convergence are already making their way into our everyday lives. At a time like this, a time of revolution, it is of paramount importance to positively adapt to the pace of change and maintain a flexible and tolerant mindset. Following the needs of this era, the educational community is making various preparations to foster young talents with flexible software thinking skills.
The keywords for education that emerged from this social background are ‘coding education’ and ‘computational thinking’. The importance of these keywords has been gradually increasing over the past few years, primarily being emphasized through various policies and media. This movement is not just of Korea’s; rather it is a worldwide trend that intensified as the 4IR accelerated. This phenomenon is due to the expectations that information science will expand its influence over other fields as the society enters the future, and as a result, information science is being more acknowledged as a standalone field of study day by day.
Take a look at the global trends: Israel has adopted software education as a regular subject since 1994, and Japan has also designated software education as a compulsory subject since 2009. In addition, according to a 2016 UBS report on preparedness for the 4IR, countries that ranked higher than Korea, such as Singapore, Finland, the U.K., Canada, and Australia, have already incorporated computer science education into public education.
To prepare for the future, Korea has also made coding education mandatory in the 2015 revised national curriculum, and as of 2019, coding education is currently ongoing nationwide at elementary and secondary schools. The term ‘coding’ is generally used interchangeably with programming and represents the act of translating a series of problem-solving algorithms into programming languages that the computer can understand.
In general, a computer is a digital-based tool that operates in a completely logical manner. Computational thinking is the way computer scientists solve problems and also the act of using computers to solve problems. Computational thinking is usually comprised of abstraction and automation. In the example of cooking instant noodles, preparing the ingredients is abstraction and repeatedly cooking multiple bowls of noodles is automation. Because commands must be issued in a very systematic way, the ability to analyze problems by order and sequence is required in coding education. These procedures will naturally develop students’ logical creativity and computational thinking. Above all, because coding is a tool that can encourage the development of artificial intelligence, the importance of coding education and the value of coding are being more emphasized.
As a trend, ‘maker’ education is expanding day by day on school grounds. Maker education is considered an effective form of education in the 4IR, along with Kahn Lab School, Matchbook Learning, MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), micro-teaching, and nanodegree. Maker education can be applied in all areas of traditional offline and online education, not just science and engineering; it is gradually expanding the scope and variety of education.
‘Learning’ in the 4IR no longer resembles a simple transfer of knowledge from the teacher to the student; it is rather the student obtaining information from hyperconnected online networks, reconstructing it from his or her point of view, and reconstructing knowledge. In this perspective, the first step of maker education can be seen as the ‘stage of thought’ where the student selects the subject or theme of study. This is in line with the ‘stage of story thinking’ where the student imagines the story leading to the result of this project and also the ‘stage of abstraction’ to solve the problem in hand. The second step is the ‘stage of storytelling’ where the procedural process is outlined to solve the problem. In this stage, students can link real-life experiences about the subject to the story. The third and final step is ‘the stage of story doing’. Students solve the problem through ‘making’ and using technology. Through this experience of actually creating something themselves, students become real developers and achieve real education.
Examples of coding-based maker education in school are prototyping ideas using cheap and small Arduinos and modeling 3D figures and printing them using code. A variety of edu-techs can be applied to maker education; augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and smartphone applications, which is highly extensible and rapidly growing in the market, can be used for education. Apart from these, one-on-one intelligent systems can be used to personalize education and reduce the skill gap between different students, and flipped learning systems can be used to encourage the organization of knowledge by increasing exposure to various experiences.

Coding education should be recognized as a universal education for fostering core competencies in the future. The harmony between analog and digital is gradually being more and more required across all fields of study. Coding education can also serve as the catalyst that helps shift from theory-driven to production-oriented maker education. Only under these circumstances can an educational environment that encourages creativity and logic be developed that is suitable in the new digital era.