Posts tagged ‘computing education’
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I found the analysis linked below interesting. Most IT workers do not have an IT-related degree. People with CS degrees are getting snapped up. The suggestion is that there’s not a shortage of IT workers, because IT workers are drawn from many disciplines. There may be a shortage of IT workers who have IT training.
IT workers, who make up 59 percent of the entire STEM workforce, are predominantly drawn from fields outside of computer science and mathematics, if they have a college degree at all. Among the IT workforce, 36 percent do not have a four-year college degree; of those who do, only 38 percent have a computer science or math degree, and more than a third (36 percent) do not have a science or technology degree of any kind. Overall, less than a quarter (24 percent) of the IT workforce has at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or math. Of the total IT workforce, two-thirds to three-quarters do not have a technology degree of any type (only 11 percent have an associate degree in any field).4
Although computer science graduates are only one segment of the overall IT workforce, at 24 percent, they are the largest segment by degree (as shown in Figure F, they are 46 percent of college graduates entering the IT workforce, while nearly a third of graduates entering IT do not have a STEM degree). The trend in computer scientist supply is important as a source of trained graduates for IT employers, particularly for the higher-skilled positions and industries, but it is clear that the IT workforce actually draws from a pool of graduates with a broad range of degrees.
The Atlanta Public Schools has a short article about their involvement in the Hour of Code — and it was all elementary school children. As far as I know, there is no more AP CS in any Atlanta Public high school. I’m wondering if the emphasis on “starting early” is having an unexpected effect. Are schools seeing activities like Blockly and Scratch as elementary school activities, and computer science belongs there, not in high schools?
As members of the APS IT department went out to observe students throughout the district participating in the Hour of Code they observed computer science education at its finest. Students were actively engaged in challenges that required them to utilize high level problem solving and critical thinking skills. Students identified and found ways to correct their mistakes until they were successful in completing the activity.
Lavant Burgess, a fifth grader at E.L. Connally Elementary, stated, “I like how it made me think. I had to keep using different strategies to figure out how to get the robot to the right squares.”
The College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia invites applications for full-time, non-tenure-track faculty positions at the rank of Instructor or Lecturer (based on experience) to start in May 2014. Primary responsibilities are to provide high quality classroom teaching and service to the department. In addition, the College is specifically looking for candidates interested in performing as Instructor of Record for large online master’s degree courses with prerecorded video lecture content. Applicants must have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field. This position is renewable annually based on funding and the needs of the College. This is a 9 month contract although summer teaching is typically available.
Applications should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, teaching statement, material relevant to evaluating the applicant’s teaching abilities, and the names of at least three references. These documents should be emailed to email@example.com with “Lecturer Vacancy” in the subject line. Also, candidates are requested to ask references to send their letters directly to the search committee via electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to put your name in the subject line. For full consideration, interested individuals are asked to apply by April 15, 2014. However, posting will remain open until position(s) are filled.
Duties, Responsibilities and Assignments
The overall responsibility of the lecturers and instructors at the College of Computing is to teach such Computer Science classes as are assigned to them, usually the large first and second year classes. The specific duties involved in teaching such a class are:
1. Preparing and maintaining a class syllabus and schedule.
2. Preparing and delivering materials for each of the scheduled meeting times of the class. For Online courses monitor course progress and activity and respond appropriately to any problems.
3. Holding regularly scheduled office hours to assist students who are having any difficulty with course materials.
4. If Teaching Assistants (TAs) are required for the class,
- a. Making the selection of TAs to hire for the class
- b. Ensuring that each TA is trained with respect to their legal obligations to the students and to the technical content of the class.
- c. Ensuring appropriate conduct of the TAs.
5. Supervising the development of, and approving the content of, all assignments given to the students in the class.
6. Supervising the development of, and approving the content of, all evaluation materials given to the students in the class.
7. Supervising and ensuring the correctness and fairness of all grading activities in the class.
8. Computing and delivering to the Registrar’s Office mid-term and final grades for the class.
9. Assisting in reviews of their fellow lecturers on a regular basis.
10. Participating in committees and other administrative activities as required by the administration.
Yay Nick and Katrina!
The University of Adelaide and Google today announce a free open online course to help primary school teachers across Australia bring computer science and computational thinking into classrooms.
The course, to be available from March 2014, will help provide resources and example learning activities for the Digital Technologies section of the new national curriculum, from kindergarten to Year 6.
To be announced today at a Digital Technologies Curriculum Summit hosted by Google in Sydney, the project is bringing together the expertise of a network of teachers and industry representatives to develop materials that will help teachers meet the learning objectives of the new curriculum.
“Our ultimate aim is to enable Australia’s future as creators of digital technology, not just consumers,” says project leader Associate Professor Katrina Falkner, Deputy Head and Director of Teaching in the University’s School of Computer Science.
It is cool to have a professional basketball player promoting learning to program in Wired. This connects to an idea that I’ve been exploring with Betsy diSalvo. What is the impact of this kind of image? I don’t think it’s negligible. It’s not sufficient to get a kid into computing, but I wonder if it’s the hook to get them to consider computing.
Being a kid of the 1990s and living in a house run by tech-savvy parents, I began to notice that the world around me was spinning on an axis powered by varying patterns of 1s and 0s. We’d be fools to ignore the power of mastering the designing and coding of those patterns. If brute physical strength ran one era, and automation the next, this is the only way we can keep up. Most jobs of the future will be awarded to the ones who know how to code.
We use code every time we’re on the phone, on the web, out shopping — it’s become how our world is run. So I take comfort in having a basic understanding of how something as big as this works.
I like that “software designers” is part of the story.
The first lady will add that whether students want to be doctors, teachers, mechanics or software designers, “you have got to do whatever it takes to continue your education after high school — whether that’s going to a community college, or getting a technical certificate, or completing a training opportunity, or heading off to a four-year college.”
Aides in Mrs. Obama’s office said she would visit other schools around the country and use social media to appeal to students, conveying the message that higher education is a door to a wider world.
I wrote up a report on our Summit on Computing Education in South Carolina for Blog@CACM (and here’s the link back to my original post on the summit). It went well, in that we got the kind of attendees we wanted and had the kinds of discussions we wanted. I was particularly pleased with the energy up through the final session.
Barbara Ericson did a nice job of collecting a bunch of URL’s to resources for new Computer Science teachers, and then created a PowerPoint tour of them. I’ve posted these on a new Resources for New CS Teachers page here on the blog.
I learned a lot at the Summit. The issues in South Carolina are different from the ones in Georgia, and they’re different again in Massachusetts and California. That’s what’s making this ECEP Alliance work interesting and complicated.
What’s interesting is that we’re starting to see some common themes. I wouldn’t call these experimental results, since you can’t easily do experiments comparing states. Instead, these are some observations from our first four case studies.
Having a statewide organization is an enormous advantage: We work in California through Debra Richardson who heads up an organization called ACCESS with an Executive Director focused just on CS Ed in the state, Julie Flapan. ACCESS is about making computing education policy reform happen in California. That’s a huge advantage — a single point of contact to other efforts, a coordinating point for the state.
We started work in South Carolina because of IT-oLogy, a public-private partnership for advancing IT. As we started planning for the summit, we realized that we need more connections, so we formed a Steering Committee with representatives from across the state, from the Department of Education, to high schools, from Universities to private industry. That Steering Committee was very helpful in getting the word out about the summit and helping us to understand the issues when assembling the program.
Statewide meetings and summits help to make things happen: We launched the higher education part of Georgia Computes in 2007 at a meeting for CS department representatives from across the University System of Georgia. The summit in South Carolina has really got discussion going there (here’s a nice piece in the Columbia The Free Times after the summit). Massachusetts just held a statewide meeting of everyone offering CS professional development across the state. These meetings aren’t a waste of time — they get people focused on the issues, at high-bandwidth, and attract attention to the issues. We’ve already been contacted by people in other states who want to organize similar summits.
A full-time statewide organizer is key: We couldn’t have done what we’ve done in Georgia without Barbara Ericson. Having full-time staff has similarly been key in Massachusetts, California, and South Carolina. Maybe you could you get a state to reform its computing education without a full-time person, with volunteers contributing their time. We’ve just seen how valuable it is to have a professional being the point of contact and focusing on making change happen.
Nice to hear that computing education will be at SXSW.
I’m pleased to announce that my SXSWedu proposal “Engaging Students with Computer Science Education” has been accepted as a panel discussion! Here is a brief abstract describing the purpose of the session:
“Current trends show a loss of student interest in computer science careers and degrees across the U.S., especially among women and minorities, even though the need for qualified candidates in this field has never been greater. Across the country, computer science experts, computer science educators, researchers, and even policymakers are developing initiatives that address these problems.
In this panel, the leaders of three such initiatives will share their perspectives on computer science education, gender and diversity in the field, and high-quality instructional design for computer science students and teachers alike. Their respective programs, Project Engage (University of Texas, Austin), Exploring Computer Science: Los Angeles (UCLA), and New Mexico Computer Science for All (University of New Mexico) represent the latest large-scale efforts in computer science education. Educators, practitioners, and researchers can all learn from their collective expertise.”