Please do consider coming to the Birds of a Feather session (#20) this Thursday (see SIGCSE 2014 Program) from 6:10-7:00 where Rick Adrion (my ECEP friend and co-PI) will be hosting a discussion on state-level change to education policy in support of computing education. Here’s what we have in mind:
6:10-6:40 Choose Group that is most important to your state (or you). Complete short questionnaire and hand to Group Leader.
- Making CS Count
- Getting Computing into K12: curricula, standards, promoting
- K12 Teacher Certification/Licensure
- Teacher Professional Development
- Creating/Expanding State-Based Alliances for CS Ed Reform
Groups will identify 3-4 Action Items and/or Best Practices (30 minutes)
6:40-6:55 Report Out (5 minutes each)
State-Level Advocacy for Computing Education Reform
While it is exciting to see an increasing number of national efforts to reform computing education, such as those led by CSTA, Computing in the Core, ACM, NCWIT, code.org and many others, real change at the state, district and school level requires the active participation of individuals and local organizations to engage policy makers, superintendents and communities. The U.S. education system is highly distributed, with critical decisions pushed more to the community level and less at the national (or even state) level – with large differences between neighboring states. The system is organized along pathways of elementary schools, middle and high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. A reform process for improving computing education pathways will take place at multiple levels and state by state. This birds-of-a-feather session will bring together emerging leaders at the state level with representatives from national initiatives to share best practices for implementing change.
Briana Morrison and Betsy DiSalvo use theory about gaming and media to analyze how Khan Academy “gamifies” the study of computer science. What do they get right? What are they missing? Thursday from 10:45-12 in Room Regency VI.
Gamification is the buzzword for adding gaming elements such as points or badges to learning experiences to make them more engaging and to increase motivation. In this paper we explore how Khan Academy has incorporated gaming elements into its CS learning platform. By mapping the literature on motivational processes to popular games we critically analyze how successful Khan Academy is at gamifying their site.
SIGCSE2014 Preview: Engaging Underrepresented Groups in High School Introductory Computing through Computational Remixing with EarSketch
EarSketch is an interesting environment that I got to demo for Jason Freeman and Brian Magerko at the Dagstuhl Livecoding conference. It’s Python programming that creates complex, layered music. The current version of EarSketch isn’t really livecoding (e.g., there’s a “compilation” step from program into digital audio workstation), but I got to see a demo of their new Web-based version which might be usable for live coding .
I got to see the preview talk and was blown away. The paper is about use in a 10 week programming unit in a high school course, with significant under-represented minority and female involvement. The evaluation results are stunning. The authenticity angle here is particularly interesting. In the preview talk, Jason talked about “authentic STEAM.” They have audio loops from real musicians, and involve hip-hop artists in the classroom. Students talk about how they value making music that sounds professional, with tools that professional musicians use.
In this paper, we describe a pilot study of EarSketch, a computational remixing approach to introductory computer science, in a formal academic computing course at the high school level. EarSketch, an integrated curriculum, Python API, digital audio workstation (DAW), audio loop library, and social sharing site, seeks to broaden participation in computing, particularly by traditionally underrepresented groups, through a thickly authentic learning environment that has personal and industry relevance in both computational and artistic domains. The pilot results show statistically significant gains in computing attitudes across multiple constructs, with particularly strong results for female and minority participants.
I’ve been excited to see this paper get published since Betsy first told me about the work. The paper described below (by Betsy DiSalvo, Cecili Reid, and Parisa Khanipour Roshan) looks at the terms that families commonly use to find on-line resources to help their children learn about computer science. They didn’t find Alice or Scratch or Blockly — none of the things that would be our first choices for CS education opportunities on-line. Betsy and her students show how we accidentally hide our resources from the uneducated and under-privileged, by presuming that the searchers are well-educated and privileged. They point out that this is one way that open education resources actually actually increase the socioeconomic gap, by not being easily discoverable by those without privilege. I got to see a preview of this talk, and the results are surprising — a video of the preview talk will be available here. Friday March 7, 3:45-5, in Room Hanover DE.
They Can’t Find Us: The Search for Informal CS Education
In this study we found that search terms that would likely be used by parents to find out-of-school computer science (CS) learning opportunities for their children yielded remarkably unproductive results. This is important to the field of CS education because, to date, there is no empirical evidence that demonstrates how a lack of CS vocabulary is a barrier to accessing informal CS learning opportunities. This study focuses on the experience of parents who do not have the privilege of education and technical experience when searching for learning opportunities for their children. The findings presented will demonstrate that issues of access to CS education go beyond technical means, and include ability to conduct suitable searches and identify appropriate computational learning tools. Out-of-school learning is an important factor in who is motivated and prepared to study computer science in college. It is likely that without early access to informal CS learning, fewer students are motivated to explore CS in formal classrooms.
It is widely acknowledged that for New York City to prosper in the 21st century, its middle and high schools must teach computer science. What is not so well known is that there are no computer science teachers in New York—at least not on paper.
The state does not recognize computer science as an official subject, which means that teachers do not get trained in it while they are becoming certified as instructors.
That’s one reason public-school students have little exposure to the skills needed to snag computer software programming jobs, which are expected to grow faster than any other profession during the next decade.
Out of 75,000 teachers in New York City public schools, fewer than 100 teach computer science. While state officials are trying to modernize the education syllabus, industry leaders have been filling in the gap with a handful of innovative efforts that illustrate the ad hoc nature of the solution to the shortfall of qualified teachers. But it will be years before all 800 of New York’s middle schools and high schools can offer even a single computer science class.
Check out the headline “Can early computer science education boost number of women in tech?” Then read the part (quoted below) where they show what works at Harvey Mudd. I don’t read anything there about early CS education. I do believe that we need CS in high schools to improve diversity in computing, but I’m not sure that much earlier than high school helps much. I worry about higher education giving up on issues of diversity, by changing the discussion to K12.
I wish that Mercury News would have really said what they found: University Computing Programs, you have the power to improve your diversity! You can change your classes and your culture! Don’t just pass the buck to K12 schools!
“The difference is, females in general are much more interested in what you can do with the technology, than with just the technology itself,” says Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe, a computer scientist herself.
So administrators created an introductory course specifically for students without programming experience. They emphasized coding’s connection to other disciplines. They paid for freshman women to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a chance to meet programming role models in diverse fields. And they provided early research opportunities for women students to inspire them to stick with the field.
The result? The percentage of female computer science majors at Harvey Mudd increased from about 10 percent before the initiatives to 43 percent today.
An interesting blog post by an important CS researcher in programming languages and software engineering, but with a deep misperception about teaching. Teaching is not presentation. Making “production” better doesn’t make the teaching more effective. Student engagement pedagogies are likely to make teaching more effective, but it’s still an open question how to make those happen in a MOOC.
But the presenter of a MOOC is not likely to be a passive player in the same sense. Video is a dynamic medium, that used well can establish a significant emotional connection between the speaker and the audience. This is already clear in some MOOCs, and as production gets better and better this emotional quality of the courses will only improve.
What’s more, MOOC instructors are always at their best. They never have an off day. They never have a pressing grant deadline. All those bad takes got edited out. The students will also always hear them clearly, and when they don’t, the MOOC instructor will patiently repeat what they said. As many times as the student wants.