Posts tagged ‘computing education’

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

Shortage in the IT U.S. labor market? Or just a lack of graduates?

Is the shortage of STEM graduates a myth, as IEEE has been arguing recently?  Is the case for IT different than the case for STEM overall?

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.

via Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends | Economic Policy Institute.

February 13, 2014 at 1:16 am 6 comments

Are schools seeing CS as an elementary school activity?

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.”

via The Hour of Code 2013: APS students explore computer science skills and careers | Talk Up APS.

February 4, 2014 at 1:11 am 6 comments

Hiring Lecturers (face-to-face and online) at Georgia Tech

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 recruiting@cc.gatech.edu 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 recruiting@cc.gatech.edu 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.

January 24, 2014 at 9:23 am 2 comments

Taking on the challenge of creating digital technologies with an online course for teachers

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.

via Taking on the digital technologies challenge.

January 20, 2014 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

NBA Superstar Chris Bosh: Here’s Why You Should Learn to Code — Impact?

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.

via NBA Superstar Chris Bosh: Here’s Why You Should Learn to Code | Wired Opinion | Wired.com.

January 8, 2014 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

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