Posts tagged ‘computing education’
So cool! There is a petition on the linked page (below) if you would like to express your support for this bill.
In overwhelming fashion, the Washington State House voted 95-3 to pass a new bill in the Washington State Legislature that may allow computer science classes to count as a math or science requirement toward high school graduation.
The bill now moves onto the Senate.
Currently, Washington high schoolers who take a computer science class don’t receive a math or science credit. HB 1472 would enable this and “provide initiatives to improve and expand access to computer science education.”
At the ACM Education Council meeting this last weekend, I heard about changes in the accreditation criteria being considered for computing disciplines (e.g., Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology). The committee has asked for feedback on several issues that they’re considering, e.g., how much mathematics do students really need in computing?
That question, in particular, is one that I’m reading about in The Computer Boys Take Over by Nathan Ensmenger. Ensmenger tells the story of how mathematics got associated with preparation of programmers (not computer scientists). Mathematics showed up on the early aptitude tests that industry created as a way of figuring out who might be a good programmer. But Ensmenger points out that mathematic ability only correlated with performance in academic courses, and did not correlated with performance as a programmer. It’s not really clear how much math is really useful (let alone necessary) for being a programming. Mathematics got associated with programming decades ago, and it remains there today.
The Committee is inviting feedback on this and other issues that they’re considering:
This survey was developed by a joint committee from CSAB and the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission, and is designed to obtain feedback on potential changes on the ABET Computing Accreditation Criteria. We are looking for opinions about some of the existing ideas under discussion for change, as well as other input regarding opportunities to improve the existing criteria.
Respondents to the survey may be computing education stakeholders in any computing sub discipline, including computer science, information systems, information technology, and many others. Stakeholders may include professionals in the discipline, educators, and/or employers of graduates from computing degree programs.
The survey may be completed online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/caccriteria2013.
Please send inquiries to email@example.com.
Thank you for your participation.
From the US yesterday to the UK today, there’s a similar theme connecting computing education and cybersecurity. Maybe the next round of government investment in computing education is going to happen with a goal of providing more warriors (and defenders) in the cybersecurity wars. The UK is worried (below) that the lack of computing education in schools means that not enough kids are getting interested in computing to work in cybersecurity.
A new report by the National Audit Office claims the IT security skills gap will take up to 20 years to close, and leave UK PLC at risk of attack.
The IT security skills shortage could hamper the UK’s ability to protect itself from cyber threats, as the “decade-long decline” in computer science teaching in schools and universities takes its toll.
A congressional committee heard about the importance of computing research, and what the committee members responded with was a need for more cyber-security and more computing education.
Lazowska spoke about the NITRD program’s history and the role of computing in the US economy. He showed an NRC chart on research and IT sectors with billion dollar markets. Lazowska also talked about the need to integrate security into the building of systems and not added on at the end as a defensive measure when questioned about cybersecurity by Congressman Steven Stockman R-TX. Stockman, who credits support from the fiscally-conservative Tea Party for his election, had the quote of the hearing, when after having pressed Lazowska for an order-of-magnitude estimate on how much additional investment in fundamental cyber security research would move the needle seemed surprised that the number PITAC requested back in 2005 was “only” $90 million. “Well, I’m interested in getting you billions, not millions,” he said, indicating he was very concerned about the U.S. vulnerability to cyber attack.The Subcommittee members were very interested in how to tackle the education problem in computing as well as how they could help researchers address cybersecurity moving forward.
The UK has achieved something that the US has not yet accomplished (but is trying through the Computing in the Core effort). Computer science is now included as part of a national UK curriculum. Computer science is not yet part of most US state curricula. Neil Brown does a great job (in the blog post linked below) considering the strengths and weaknesses of the new curriculum. In particular, he considers seriously what every student needs to have — certainly some CS (like in the CS:Principles effort), and trying out programming, but with ICT and digital literacy as probably the most critical for everyone.
At the core of computing is the science and engineering discipline of computer science, in which pupils are taught how digital systems work, how they are designed and programmed, and the fundamental principles of information and computation. Building on this core, computing equips pupils to apply information technology to create products and solutions. A computing education also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.
I hear all the time about the decline of interest in computing among high school students in the US. Not surprising, but still disappointing, to see that the problem is also in the UK.
Between now and 2020, according to an October report from the Royal Academy of Engineering, the U.K. will need 10,000 more new graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) each year just to fill current employment needs.
It’s difficult to see where they’re going to come from, especially in tech, judging from January data from the U.K Department for Education. Only 3,420 British students, or 0.4%, took a computer science A-level (similar to a U.S. high school diploma) in 2011-12, compared to a high of 12,529 in 1998.
The gender gap is another concern here, as a mere 7% — 255 total — of computing A-level students were female in the 2011-12 school year.
From his February 14, 2013 Google+ Hangout, President Obama discusses the importance of computer science in preparing the nation’s future workforce.
Code.org is aimed at making programming cool, and they’re going to do it with a documentary:
Code.org’s initial effort will be a short film, currently being edited, that will feature various luminaries from the technology industry talking about how exciting and accessible programming is. Two of the most famous programmers and entrepreneurs in history — Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, and Bill Gates, the chairman and co-founder of Microsoft – were among the people interviewed for the film, according to a person with knowledge of the project who wasn’t authorized to discuss details about it.
Lesley Chilcott, a producer of the documentaries “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “An Inconvenient Truth,” is making the film.
While Ben Shapiro’s chair says “Engineering Education,” his PhD in Education and CS and the kinds of projects he works on says to me that we can claim him as a CS Ed guy. Which makes this the first (as far as I know) Endowed Chair for CS Ed. Ben will be part of CEEO at Tufts — they have a new MAT for teaching engineering that I wrote about earlier, and I visited them last month and wrote about here. A win for Ben, Tufts, and the CS Ed community!
The James S. McDonnell Family Foundation has donated $3 million to Tufts University in Medford, Mass., to fund an endowed chair at its school of engineering, university officials announced.
The gift will also support the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) to expand research into educational technologies to help children in grades K-12 learn engineering and technology concepts.
R. Ben Shapiro will be the inaugural holder of the McDonnell Family Foundation professorship in engineering education (pending university provost and trustee approval), and he will be a faculty member of CEEO.
A nice piece describing reasons to learn code. What makes this one particularly noteworthy is how it talks about art, architecture, and aesthetic — learning to code as a way of connecting to our world.
Both aesthetic and rooted in physics, sturdy yet beautiful, containing both purpose and artistic intent. Code is now a core part of the architecture of the world we live in.
It both powers and shapes finance, business, and entertainment; it is embedded in our homes and in our pockets. And so “architecture” feels like the appropriate metaphor for the skills needed to master it: for architecture both shapes its inhabitants and is shaped by them.
Computer programs can make people more efficient in day to day life
It can’t really exist without people inside it. And we can’t separate code from people; from the people who write it; from the people who are shaped by it.
(Thanks to Beth Simon for pointing this out to me!) A new paper from Carl Wieman reviewing the literature on science education is always worth reading, but the one linked below is particularly useful to us in computer science. One of the issues that Carl addresses in this paper is whether competitions and other informal science learning efforts really do help with student learning. We do have a lot of different kind of competitions in computing education, from the First Robotics league to the USA Computing Olympiad. His finding (quoted below): “there is little evidence that such programs ultimately succeed, and some limited evidence to the contrary.”
We use competitions in “Georgia Computes!” but for a very different purpose, not considered in Carl’s analysis below. As he points out later in the article, most efforts at improving teacher quality through in-service workshops fail because the teachers don’t have enough STEM knowledge to begin with, and content knowledge precedes pedagogical content knowledge. What Barbara Ericson has found is that competitions inspire the teachers to learn more. Competitions inspire students, but even more, teachers are inspired to learn in order to support their students. When we have Alice or Scratch competitions, teachers start showing up for our Alice and Scratch professional development, because they want to learn in order to help their students. While the impact of the competitions on the students might be short-lived, I would love to see some measure of the longer-term impact on the teachers.
Competitions and other informal science programs: Attempting to separate the inspiration from the learning. Motivation in its entirety, including the elements of inspiration, is such fundamental requirement for learning that any approach that separates it from any aspect the learning process is doomed to be ineffective. Unfortunately, a large number of government and private programs that support the many science and engineering competitions and out-of-school programs assume that they are separable. The assumption of such programs is that by inspiring children through competitions or other enrichment experiences, they will then thrive in formal school experiences that provide little motivation or inspiration and still go on to achieve STEM success. Given the questionable assumptions about the learning process that underlie these programs, we should not be surprised that there is little evidence that such programs ultimately succeed, and some limited evidence to the contrary. The past 20 years have seen an explosion in the number of participants in engineering-oriented competitions such as First Robotics and others, while the fraction of the population getting college degrees in engineering has remained constant. A study by Rena Subotnik and colleagues that tracked high-school Westinghouse (now Intel) talent search winners, an extraordinarily elite group already deeply immersed in science, found that a substantial fraction, including nearly half of the women, had switched out of science within a few years, largely because of their experiences in the formal education system. It is not that such enrichment experiences are bad, just that they are inherently limited in their effectiveness. Programs that introduce these motivational elements as an integral part of every aspect of the STEM learning process, particularly in formal schooling, would probably be more effective.
I did a Blog@CACM post on the value of combining Education and Engineering. I was impressed by my visit to Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. Then when I got back to Georgia Tech, I attended a meeting that was explicitly asking, “What should the relationship be between Engineering and Education?” Thus, this blog post, where I argue that the relationship is important and deep, and benefits each.
Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas makes an impassioned plea for kids to learn to write code.
STEM education has become one of his great passions, to such an extent that hes said that he wants to do a college course himself next year. He wants to learn how to write code. “We all rely on technology to communicate, to survive, to do our banking, to shop, to get informed, but none of us knows how to read and write the code.” Its like the middle ages, he says, when only the clergy could read and write.So, youre going to do a course? “Yeah! I want to learn to read and write code! I want to be one of the clergy. I want to be one of the folks who contribute. Everyone should want to be.” I did an introductory course on coding, I tell him. And it made my brain ache. “I want brain ache!”
I’m a fan of Peer Instruction. I’m sharing this announcement that Beth Simon just made on the SIGCSE mailing list about a new resource for CS teachers who want to use Peer Instruction:
This website serves to support computing instructors implementing Peer
Instruction — a very specifically designed pedagogy developed by
Harvard physicist Eric Mazur (read more under “About”). In findings
to be presented at SIGCSE 2013, we report on Peer Instruction’s impact
in reducing class fail rates by more than half and present results
from a quasi-experimental study where students in a course adopting
Peer Instruction scored 5.7% better on the final exam than a control
section using standard lecture approaches.
We hope you might find these resources helpful and discuss them with
your colleagues. In particular: If you are interested in participating in an e-support
program for faculty adopting PI, we encourage you to sign up on our
web site. Not only can you get feedback from experienced PI
instructors, but you can also share things that worked with others and
complain about things that didn’t work!
Interesting that the ACM is taking an active role in this education public policy issue. I’ve seen them do this in the US before, but not in the UK. It’s great to see!
Vint Cerf – the founding father of the internet – is backing the BCS’s call for computer science to be included in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).
In 2015, the EBacc is set to replace the current GCSE examination system in five core subjects: English, maths, a science, a foreign language and one or other from history or geography. Students wishing to take subjects outside of the EBacc will continue to take GCSEs until new syllabuses for other subjects are constructed.
Cerf, the vice-president and chief internet evangelist for Google and a distinguished fellow of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, decided to air his views following the publication of The case for computer science as an option in the English Baccalaureate report from the BCS.