Humans have an amazing ability to project forward but then not do much in the near term to prepare for the future. For example, nearly everyone knows that humans are living longer and longer, yet not enough people are investing in their physical health. Closely related to the benefits of health investment is the need to have financial security that lasts for an even longer period after retirement. However, people still aren’t demonstrably spending less than they make and investing the difference to grow their retirement accounts.
In reality, what often happens is that as the future state becomes closer and more readily visible, we do things to try to achieve the desired outcome in an accelerated period of time that would have been far easier to accomplish over a long period of time. So, people may begin exercising more frequently in their 40’s or 50’s after a major health scare. Or, they may begin investing a larger amount of their income into their retirement savings after running an analysis a few years before they retire that shows their projected nest egg isn’t going to last very long.
While this later stage exercising and investing will be meaningful, it’s not going to favorably compare to someone who began prioritizing their diet and exercise in their 20’s. Or from a financial perspective, it won’t compare well with someone who has always carved out a portion of their check after college for their retirement account. The math has been clear on this for decades. The biggest benefits in investment don’t come from big wins in a short period of time. Instead, those with the most healthy retirement accounts are those who consistently invested in them over a long period of time.
With education, a similar dynamic can exist. For decades, it has become increasingly clear that the need to have knowledge on how to build with technology will be a major part of the economy going forward. Yet, many students do not take many classes on this topic until much later in their schooling.
For example, if a student has shown an interest in technology, their parents may enroll them in classes in high school or they may choose to major in engineering or computer science in college. However, when we contrast this with a student who started taking education technology classes in elementary or middle school, we can see how their can be a big experience and expertise delta between when these students are now in the same high school class.
In my personal experience, I had always shown an interest in technology as a kid. But, no one ever pulled me aside and suggested that I take specific classes to further develop my technology skills. And, my mother who didn’t have experience in technology wasn’t knowledgeable enough to guide me down the right path.
So, when I got to college and began taking classes, it was clear that there was a group of students who had been building their technical skills for a period of many years. Not only was it intimidating but I also started to question if engineering was right for me because it was so challenging.
When I compare that experience to some of the students that I work with now in Pre-K, Kindergarten or 1st or 2nd grade, it’s apparent that they are already going to benefit from the cumulative gains that come from early and consistent education technology investment. In our first few experiences, they are learning the basics of logins and how usernames/passwords work. While that might seem like something basic for those who are more experienced with technology, I took that as an opportunity to talk about databases and how information is stored in computers.
From that initial example, they are going to learn about several examples of database storage and data access over the years. By developing this cumulative fluency and experience, if they are every asked to design a database they will have an intuitive sense for the structure that should be utilized.
In a similar way, when students are building a series of hardware and software projects across a variety of platforms, they aren’t just building a spaceship game or a Minecraft Mod, they are developing insights into what is involved in building with technology. As they move beyond structured projects in their developmental years, it becomes much more straightforward to pull from that knowledge base when they are asked to work independently on a next level mobile application to solve a problem they are facing or to design a novel solution to a difficult technical issue.
We see a similar dynamic of investment and cumulative gains across a variety of different areas. From learning to play an instrument to becoming a successful investor. Cumulative gains occur over a period of decades from people taking time on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to develop deep knowledge about a topic of interest.
In conclusion, across a wide variety of disciplines, outcomes are cumulative. While there are some people that win the lottery, by and large those who are most successful picked an area of study and stuck with it for years.
At Digital Adventures, we create the sandbox for future inventors and innovators to learn, play, fail and grow. Although, our classes only meet for an hour each week. When you consider this time spent learning to build with technology over a period of many years, you can start to see how this educational investment will ultimately pay dividends over time.