Posts tagged ‘computing education’

Guest Post: Report on a CS MOOC from a CS Lecturer

That students don’t finish a CS MOOC isn’t news.  That a CS Lecturer from a research intensive university (an expert in CS teaching) couldn’t stand to finish a CS MOOC is interesting.  Bettina Bair is a Senior Lecturer in CS at Ohio State University.  I’m posting her note to me as a guest post, with her permission.
Recently I enrolled in (and did not complete) a MOOC class from University of Maryland, delivered by Coursera. Since you’ve done some blogging on the idea of distance learning, I thought I would share the enrollment statistics and my experience with you.
The final enrollment for the course was over 220,000 students.  Then about 5000 students completed the course; they will receive a certificate.  About 40% of the students came from developing countries.  And the gender split was 85/15, about the same as for our courses.
The course was presented with canned videos of the professor standing in front of a powerpoint.  There was about an hour of video to watch each week.  The videos had questions to answer every ten minutes or so.  There were also weekly homeworks, quizzes and projects to complete.  There was an online forum for discussion.
Even though I was very interested in the subject, I found the format to be unappealing, and I probably would have learned more from reading a book. The online forum was especially hard to navigate. Imagine 220,000 vying for attention and everyone names their posts, “Help!”.
That said, 5000 people did finish the course.  And good for them.
Let me know if you’re interested in talking more about this course or seeing examples of the coursework.

 

April 16, 2014 at 8:45 am 10 comments

AP in Career and Technical Education: They go together

If states offer career and technical education in pathways (typically 3-4 courses) with a pathway completion exam, they are eligible for Perkins legislation funding to pay for staff and equipment.  If AP CS is one of those courses, it’s easier to build the pathway (2-3 courses to define, rather than 3-4) and the pathway is more likely to lead to college-level CS, if a student so chooses.  But as the below report mentions, many states believe that Perkins legislation disallows the AP to count.  It can, and here’s the report describing how.

If you’re hearing this story in your state, be sure to send your department of education this report!

Career and Technical Education and Advanced Placement (July 2013, PDF)

Traditionally Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and exams have not been recommended for students in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. This paper, jointly developed and released by NASDCTEc and the College Board aims to bust this myth by showing how AP courses and exams can be relevant to a student’s program of study across the 16 Career Clusters®.

via National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium : Policy & Legislation : Issue Briefs & Papers.

April 9, 2014 at 1:15 am 2 comments

Computer Science for Non-Majors in the CCC Blog

Nice post from Ran Libeskind-Hadas, Chair of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, on the importance of computer science for everyone on campus.

College students across all fields are quickly recognizing two important facts:  Every well educated citizen should understand something about the computationally-pervasive world in which we live.  Second, computing skills are likely to be useful across virtually all disciplines including the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Many of these students discover computing late in their college lives and/or have other constraints that prevent them from taking more than one or two computing courses.  Those students, I believe, are not ideally served by traditional CS 1 and 2 courses which are often designed as the stepping stones of a computer science major.  While implementing a queue as a doubly-linked list is probably important for a CS major (although one could reasonably argue that it still doesn’t have to be presented in CS 1), it’s almost certainly not the highest priority for a social scientist or a biologist.

via Computer Science for Non-Majors » CCC Blog.

March 25, 2014 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

2014 Annual CSTA Conference — reserve your place

I’ve mentioned before that Yasmin Kafai and Michael Kölling will be keynoters there.  Barbara and I will also be there, offering a MediaComp Python workshop.

2014 CSTA Annual Conference
July 14-15, 2014 Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois

 

The CSTA annual conference is a professional development opportunity for computer science and information technology teachers who need practical, classroom-focused information to help them prepare their students for the future.

Highlights:

  • Explore issues and trends relating directly to your classroom
  • Learn, network and interact
  • Choose from various workshops and breakout sessions

 

Some of this year’s session topics include:

  • Advanced Placement Computer Science
  • Computational Thinking
  • Increasing Enrollment in Computer Science
  • Programming
  • Robotics

 

Keynotes:

  • Yasmin Kafai, Professor of learning sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Michael Kölling, Professor at the School of Computing, University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK.

 

Pre-registration is required and will be accepted for the first 500 teachers. The registration deadline is June 26, 2014. Also, please note that you must complete the payment portion of the online form in order to be fully registered for the conference!

 

Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, the registration fee of $75 (+$60 per workshop) includes lunch, resource materials, and a closing session raffle. The 2014 CSTA Annual Conference is made possible by the generous support of Oracle and Universal Technical Institute.

Please note that all workshops are “bring your own laptop” and that workshop registration is limited to 30-40 participants; so be sure to register early to get your workshop choice.

Register at: www.cstaconference.org

For more information contact: t.nash@csta-hq.org

March 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Why Counting CS as a Foreign Language Credit is a Bad Idea from CSTA Blog

Interesting and detailed response to the decision in Texas (and proposed in New Mexico and Kentucky) to count programming as a foreign language.

When these policy makers look at schools, they see that computer science is not part of the “common core” of prescribed learning for students. And then they hear that Texas has just passed legislation to enable students to count a computer science course as a foreign language credit and it seems like a great idea.

But all we have to do is to look at Texas to see how this idea could, at the implementation level, turn out to be an unfortunate choice for computer science education. Here are the unintended consequences

1. If a course counts as a foreign language course, it will be suggested that a new course must be created.

2. If a new course is created, chances are that it won’t fit well into any of the already existing course pathways for college-prep or CTE.

3. This new course will be added to the current confusing array of “computing” courses which students and their parents already find difficult to navigate.

4. There will be pressure brought to ensure that that course focuses somehow on a “language”. For the last ten years we have been trying to help people understand that computer science is more than programming. Programming/coding is to computer science as the multiplication table is to mathematics, a critical tool but certainly not the entire discipline.

5. If this new course is going to be a “language” course, we have to pick a language (just one). And so the programming language wars begin.

via Computer Science Teachers Association.

March 19, 2014 at 1:06 am 3 comments

Candidate for Massachusetts Governor pushing CS Ed

An interesting piece on “The importance of expanding CS Education in Massachusetts.”  I’m particularly interested in her use of AP CS data to argue for the need to broaden access to computing education.

In July, the Boston Globe reported that, of the nearly 86,000 Advanced Placement tests taken by high school students in Massachusetts, only about 900 were in computer science. This is far too low for a state that aspires to lead the world in technological innovation.

Part of the problem is that, too often, students simply don’t have the interest, or the basic computer skills, necessary to tackle higher-level computer science courses. But the greater challenge, across all levels, is that we do not have enough computer science teachers, so students who are interested are left out in the cold. In 2012, more than half of all students who passed the computer science AP exam came from just 14 high schools around the state, meaning that the other 364 high schools in Massachusetts accounted for only around 275 students who passed the exam.

via Boston Governor Martha Coakley Economy, Education & Job Creation Platform | BostInno.

March 18, 2014 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

Bard College offers an MAT with a concentration in CS Ed

Announced on the CSTA website.  There are relatively few pre-service CS Ed programs in the United States.

Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching Program, a CSTA sponsoring school, is accepting applications for the 2014-2015 preservice program.

Bard College’s preservice teaching program offers a one-year, 63 credit Master of Arts in Teaching degree and NYS Initial Teaching Certification, grades 7-12 for math, biology, history, and English. Applications are being accepted for the program now through April 30th.

Responding to a nationally recognized need for computer science curriculum in our public schools, the Bard MAT Program is offering a unique curriculum for math teachers with a commitment to teaching computer science in secondary public schools. The student dedicated to becoming a mathematics and computer science teacher values the Bard MAT Program’s commitment to the discipline with its substantive research projects in mathematics, computer science, and math/cs education. Students will work with computer science teachers in the middle and high schools in New York’s Hudson Valley, preparing for teaching careers in computer science.

Visit our website http://www.bard.edu/mat for more information
Apply online at: https://bard.slideroom.com/

March 13, 2014 at 1:16 am 1 comment

The Joy of Teaching Computer Science in the Age of Facebook: Interview with Mehran Sahami

Great interview with Stanford’s Mehran Sahami.  I think he has his finger on what’s influencing students going into CS today.

And now a lot more students everywhere are choosing to major in computer science.

In terms of that trend turning around, part of it is the recovery in the high-tech economy, part of it is a change in perception. When people see companies like Google and Facebook being founded by relatively young people, they feel empowered and think: I can do that. And there’s the realization that the demand for computing, at least looking out over the next ten years, is certainly going to be there.

What are the factors that are still holding students back from studying computer science?

The problem is the educational opportunities. You take your average high school, and kids have several years of math classes, they have several years of science classes, several years of English, options for various kinds of vocational training, or history, or economics. But very few schools actually offer real computer science classes. So students don’t get the exposure in high school, of those who go to college, some have never considered computing before because they don’t really know what it is. One of the phenomena we see at Stanford is that the vast majority of our students, 90 percent of undergrads, take computer science classes even though there’s no requirement to do so. Some of them take it and end up loving it, but it’s too late to major in computer science. Had they been exposed to computer science earlier on, they could’ve started at a point that would allow them to pursue this as a major and as a career. When you take your first class your senior year and realize you love it, but you’re going to graduate in another quarter, you can’t complete a major. If there are more of those opportunities earlier in the pipeline, it will help address this.

via The Joy of Teaching Computer Science in the Age of Facebook – Hope Reese – The Atlantic.

March 10, 2014 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

Getting politicians to support CS, when they don’t understand CS

The article below describes a political furor over appointing someone to lead an effort to support computing education — who doesn’t herself understand much about computing.

But this is a general problem, and is probably a problem for engineering education, too.  Most US politicians in Washington DC don’t have STEM backgrounds.  Few know anything about engineering.  Fewer still know anything about computer science.  Even if they really want to support STEM, engineering, and computing education, not knowing what it is themselves makes it more challenging for them to make good choices.

The row over Tory cronies in taxpayer-backed positions look set to intensify after it emerges the boss of the government’s coding education initiative cannot code — or even give a decent explanation of what is involved. Figures behind the scheme include Michael Gove, who is at the centre of the furore over Conservative placemen in Whitehall and the ‘quangocracy’.

Conservative activist Lottie Dexter was ridiculed by IT experts and educationalists for her clueless performance on Newsnight — in which she claimed that teachers could be trained how to educate students in computer programming “in a day”

via Tories’ ‘Year of Code’ boss Lottie Dexter can’t code | Political Scrapbook.

March 6, 2014 at 1:54 am 1 comment

New ACM Report on the Need for CS in K-12

ACM has just released a report arguing for the need for computer science in K-12 schools.  They are very strongly making the jobs argument.  The appendix to the report details state-by-state what jobs are available in computing, the salaries being paid for those jobs, and how many computing graduates (including how many AP CS exams vs other AP exams were taken in 2013) in that state.

The report Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States calls on education and business leaders and public policy officials in every state to take immediate action aimed at filling the pipeline of qualified students pursuing computing and related degrees, and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. The report provides recommendations to help these leaders join together to create a comprehensive plan that addresses K-12 computer science education and that aligns state policy, programs, and resources to implement these efforts.

via ACM Report – Rebooting the Pathway to Success.

March 5, 2014 at 11:55 am 2 comments

SIGCSE 2014 Preview: How Khan Academy gamifies CS

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.

via SIGCSE2014 – OpenConf Peer Review & Conference Management System.

March 2, 2014 at 1:21 am 1 comment

There are no computer science teachers in NY

Here’s the next step after the Hour of Code and plans to implement comprehensive CS reform (like in Chicago): Where are you going to get the teachers?

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.

via There are no computer science teachers in NY | Crain’s New York Business.

February 27, 2014 at 1:38 am 8 comments

Are MOOCs the New Textbooks? Misunderstanding the role of the teacher

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.

via Are MOOCs the New Textbooks? | Flexible Learning.

February 26, 2014 at 1:56 am 5 comments

Massachusetts prepares K12 CS education standards

Thanks to Ben Shapiro for the pointer.  My ECEP colleague, Rick Adrion, is part of MassCAN.  Massachusetts has just decided to develop K-12 standards that will include computer science.

These discussions have led to a vision of expanded computing education opportunities for all students. To realize this vision, the Department will be collaborating with MassCAN on the development of voluntary Computer Science Standards for Massachusetts schools. The current Technology Literacy standards will be analyzed and updated and a decision will be made whether to fold Technology Literacy standards into a single document with computer science (Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards), or to produce two separate documents.

The standards development committee plans to present draft standards to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education about a year from now, in winter 2014-15. Given the significant education initiatives already underway, I would recommend putting the standards out for public comment no earlier than fall 2015, and would ask the Board to vote on adopting the standards no earlier than spring 2016.

via Briefing for the February 24, 2014 Special Meeting and the February 25, 2014 Regular Meeting – Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

February 25, 2014 at 9:55 am 3 comments

NPR: A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age (with listener pushback)

Nice coverage in NPR, including Barb’s AP CS data, with interviews with Hadi Partovi and Chris Stephenson.

What’s most striking about this piece are the comments.  These are NPR listeners, and by and large, they are a reasonable group.  But by and large, they are against  teaching computer science in elementary school.  Their arguments are interesting. Many are of the form “In my day…”  Others are pushing back against the idea of teaching kids in elementary school something that is supposed to be a job skill.  Still others are making an argument that I made this month in CACM: If the goal is more CS graduates, and there’s nothing in high school or middle school, what’s the point of making a significant effort to get computer science into elementary school?

Part of the problem here is the kind of argument that we’re making for CS in schools, including this NPR piece.  I believe that the strongest argument is that most professions need computing, so it makes sense to build up that literacy.  But it’s a hard argument to sell, and we keep falling back on the “CS jobs are going unfilled” argument.

A handful of nonprofit and for-profit groups are working to address what they see as a national education crisis: Too few of America’s K-12 public schools actually teach computer science basics and fewer still offer it for credit.

It’s projected that in the next decade there will be about 1 million more U.S. jobs in the tech sector than computer science graduates to fill them. And it’s estimated that only about 10 percent of K-12 schools teach computer science.

So some in the education technology sector, an industry worth some $8 billion a year and growing, are stepping in.

At a Silicon Valley hotel recently, venture capitalists and interested parties heard funding pitches and watched demonstrations from 13 ed-tech start-ups backed by an incubator called Imagine K-12. One of them is Kodable, which aims to teach kids five years and younger the fundamentals of programming through a game where you guide a Pac-Man-esque fuzz ball.

via A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age : All Tech Considered : NPR.

February 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm 27 comments

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