Posts tagged ‘high school CS’
I’ve just started reading the new report, and I’m going to be recommending it often — lots of detail, connections to lots of literature, and useful synthesis. As usual, NCWIT does a great job with resources. They provide the report, and also a nice infographic and charts & graphs for others to use.
Girls in IT: The Facts, sponsored by NCWIT’s K-12 Alliance, is a synthesis of the existing literature on increasing girls’ participation in computing. It aims to bring together this latest research so that readers can gain a clearer and more coherent picture of 1) the current state of affairs for girls in computing, 2) the key barriers to increasing girls’ participation in these fields, and 3) promising practices for addressing these barriers.
I’ve seen EarSketch demoed a few times, and Barb is involved in planning their summer camp version. It’s very cool — goes deeper into Python programming and music than MediaComp.
The students use EarSketch, the software created by Magerko and Jason Freeman, an associate professor in Tech’s School of Music. EarSketch utilizes the Python programming language and Reaper, a digital audio work station program similar to those used in recording studios throughout the music industry.
“Young people don’t always realize that computer science and programming can be fun,” Freeman said. “This is allowing students to express their own creative musical ideas as they learn computer science principles.”
And that makes it 10.
Today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee is signing a bill that will allow high schools across the state to count the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science course as a math or science credit, making Washington one of only 10 states that counts computer science towards high school graduation.
Before today, AP Computer Science counted as an elective—making it a tough choice for students looking to pack their transcripts with math and science courses and those that might be curious about computer science. Currently, only 35 of the state’s 622 high schools offer AP Computer Science. The hope is that this change will encourage more students to take the course and many more schools to offer it.
Posted to the SIGCSE-Members list from Moti Ben Ari:
Michal Armoni and I have written a book: “Computer Science Concepts in Scratch”. (See the short description below.) It can be freely downloaded from http://stwww.weizmann.ac.il/g-cs/scratch/scratch_en.html under the Creative Common BY-NC-ND license.
The book is based on Scratch 1.4 … although Scratch 2.0 is due to be released in a few days. We are planning to prepare a supplement and / or revision for 2.0 in the future.
We’ve set up a separate email account for correspondence related to the book: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moti and Michal
Prof. Mordechai (Moti) Ben-Ari
Department of Science Teaching
Weizmann Institute of Science
I’m excited about this and find myself thinking, “So what should I do with this first?” LiveCode isn’t as HyperCard-like as it could be (e.g., you edit in one place, then compile into an application), and it has all of HyperCard’s limitations (e.g., object-based not object-oriented, lines are syntax). But it’s free, including all engines. I can program iOS and Android from the same HyperCard stack! I can build new kinds of programming languages and environments on top of Livecode (but who in the world would want to do something like that?!?) that could compile into apps and applications! It’s a compellingly different model for introductory computing, that sits between visual block programming and professional textual programming. Wow…
LiveCode Community is an Open Source application. This means that you can look at and edit all of the code used to run it, including the engine code. Of course, you do not have to do this, if you just want to write your app in LiveCode there is no need for you to get involved with the engine at all. You write your app using LiveCode, the English-like scripting language, and our drag and drop interface. Fast, easy, productive and powerful.
• Recommendation 1. All students should benefit from education in digital literacy, starting from an early age and mastering the basic concepts by age 12. Digital literacy education should emphasize not only skills but also the principles and practices of using them effectively and ethically.
• Recommendation 2. All students should benefit from education in informatics as an independent scientific subject, studied both for its intrinsic intellectual and educational value and for its applications to other disciplines.
• Recommendation 3. A large-scale teacher training program should urgently be started. To bootstrap the process in the short term, creative solutions should be developed involving school teachers paired with experts from academia and industry.
• Recommendation 4. The definition of informatics curricula should rely on the considerable body of existing work on the topic and the specific recommendations of the present report (section 4).
I read with great interest Neil Fraser’s fascinating account of computer science education in Vietnam. The efforts going on in Vietnam are really terrific, and Neil does a good job of describing what he saw there.
Then a colleague sent me a link to the Slashdot discussion about Neil’s blog post. The focus of the discussion was on Neil’s description of the state of computer science education in the United States, which is not nearly as accurate or as well-informed as his descriptions of the state of Vietnamese CS education.
Here’s what Neil says, with my responses interspersed. His original is more detailed than the bits I’m grabbing here.
The state of American computer science education is striking in comparison.
School boards fight to keep CS out of schools, since every minute spent on CS is one less minute spent on core subjects like English and math. The students’ test scores in these core subjects determine next year’s funding, so CS is a threat.
I have never heard of a school board fighting to keep CS out of their schools. Describing it like that paints a picture of a poor group of School Board members fighting against the hoards of computer scientists. A more accurate analogy is School Board members riding on the backs of lumbering elephants, and every once in awhile, a pesky computer scientist mosquito tries to annoy the elephant. If there ever was a massive battle for the schools’ curriculum, the CS army would have lost, because it never showed up!
Computer science does not count toward Annual Yearly Progress, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t. It’s absolutely true that computer science is not part of the Common Core — that’s the goal of the “Computing in the Core” group. Computer science does count towards high school graduation in nine states now. It could be more, but it hasn’t happened yet. There’s a big effort going on in Washington and in Massachusetts now. I don’t know of any organized effort anywhere to keep CS out of schools. Rather, there’s not enough effort to get CS into schools yet. (There is no school suffering the problem of too many hours and too few things to teach!)
There’s an implicit assumption here that School Boards make the decision on what gets taught and what doesn’t. I keep learning how different each and every state is. Decisions about what gets taught (and what doesn’t get made) at the State level, the district level, and the individual school/teacher level, and what gets decided at what level differs from state to state.
Teachers often refuse to teach real CS because more often than not they don’t understand it. Instead, they end up teaching word processing and website construction, while calling it CS.
I have been involved several studies of high school teachers (e.g., DCCE and Lijun Ni’s work and through GaComputes). Teachers want to teach what they know and what their students need and want. Absolutely, they are unlikely to know real CS, but not knowing something isn’t the same as “refusing to teach” it. Professional development to prepare high school teachers in computer science is a huge international problem. Absolutely, applications and keyboarding skills often get misclassified as computer science. I recommend the CSTA report Running on Empty to see where this is happening and about the efforts to explain what is real computer science.
Parents often oppose CS classes since the grade has no direct benefit on their child’s academic prospects. This is compounded by a lack of understanding of the difference between their child playing video games and their child writing video games.
Absolutely, I believe this happens. I have heard similar stories. I don’t know how widespread it is. I have not seen any data showing that parents oppose CS classes in enough numbers to influence participation in a significant way. I have never seen any data that parents are confused about the difference between playing video games and writing video games. In general, we know that parents influence students’ educational decision-making processes, but we don’t know that parental recommendations away from computing prevent computing education from growing.
Students intentionally tune out of CS class since there are few things worse in American high school than being labelled a nerd.
Studies like the ACM-WGBH image of computing, Stuck in the Shallow End, and Betsy DiSalvo’s work with Glitch all say that students value computing and want computing courses, but rarely get access to it. Agreed that nobody wants to be labelled a “nerd,” and Betsy’s work shows that “face-saving” is an important part of her efforts. But that’s not the main reason why students aren’t taking computer science. The real problem is a lack of access. Remember that there are 2K AP CS teachers for 24K high schools in the United States. If students WANTED to be “labelled a nerd” and take a CS course, they are unlikely to get a chance.
The result in America is a prefect storm of opposition from every level. Effecting meaningful change is virtually impossible. I work for the education department at Google and the stories our external educators return with are as shocking as they are unpublishable. We’ve been spending enormous resources with frankly minimal impact.
I am absolutely sure that Neil is hearing all kinds of awful stories, but that’s not the same as careful studies. Those are anecdotes. Efforts to measure what’s going on paint a somewhat different picture.
At the ACM Education Council meeting last month, we learned that China is spending $25 BILLION per year on computer science education. Those are enormous resources. The United States has barely started.
All these efforts to draw in more girls to computing are great, but the last sentence is a big deal. How do we keep them? How do we help girls to survive the thousand paper cuts?
Girls Who Code is among the recent crop of programs aiming to close the gender gap in tech by intervening early, when young women are deciding what they want to study. With names like Hackbright Academy, Girl Develop It, Black Girls Code and Girls Teaching Girls to Code, these groups try to present a more exciting image of computer science.
The dearth of women in the tech industry has been well documented. Even though women represent more than half the overall work force, they hold less than a quarter of computing and technical jobs, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology based at the University of Colorado, Boulder. At the executive and founder levels, women are even scarcer.
I firmly believe that a strengthening computer science education program has to be one of the most obvious and cost effective things we can do to ensure future economic prosperity. Israel has the highest rate of startup per capita anywhere and that in part stems from its strong computer science education program. Estonia, another country with both a strong tech sector and economy, recently announced a plan to expand teaching of computer science to all primary school children. Do we want to be left in the dust by these countries, or left unable to compete with the growing economies of India and China? What is it going to take to get computer science education moved up the agenda in the USA and here in the UK?
We’ve talked about the UK and the US worrying about having enough cyberwarriors to deal with future cybersecurity issues. CMU is helping to build a game to entice high school students into computing, with cybersecurity as the focus.
Carnegie Mellon University and one of the government’s top spy agencies want to interest high school students in a game of computer hacking.
Their goal with “Toaster Wars” is to cultivate the nation’s next generation of cyber warriors in offensive and defensive strategies. The free, online “high school hacking competition” is scheduled to run from April 26 to May 6, and any U.S. student or team in grades six through 12 can apply and participate.
David Brumley, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said the game is designed to be fun and challenging, but he hopes participants come to see computer security as an excellent career choice.
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.”
A nice upbeat piece! I hadn’t talked about the Code.org video here — I recommend checking it out. (I will point out that Chris Bosh who “coded in college” according to the video, was at Georgia Tech for his one year in college.)
America’s elite institutions came out in full force for computer science education. First, the House of Representatives voted to update its traditional students arts competition to include a nationwide mobile apps competition. Then, to top off the day, the nation’s leading geeks, from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, helped launch a national nonprofit to encourage young programmers.
The biggest challenge to computing education in the United States is finding the teachers. Turns out that the issue is the same in the UK. I read on the Computing at Schools discussion boards, and part of the explanation for the ‘collapse’ described below is confusion about the curriculum. What’s going to be offered? ICT or Computing? The bigger picture remains — just as we’re having a hard time getting the students engaged about computing, we’re having a hard time engaging the teachers, too.
The government’s plans to revolutionise computer science in schools are in jeopardy after a “collapse” in the number of applications to teacher training courses, experts have warned.
Graduates are shunning courses designed to prepare teachers for a new curriculum backed by technology giants including Facebook, Microsoft and IBM, figures reveal, despite scholarships of £20,000 for the best recruits.
The number of people applying for computer science PGCEs in England is down by a third compared with applications for the old ICT course at the same time last year. The number of applicants last year was itself down by more than 50 per cent on 2011, which suggests a continuing crisis in recruitment.
Shuchi Grover and Roy Pea (Stanford) have a review of the field of computational thinking in K-12 schools in this month’s Educational Researcher. It’s a very nice paper. I’m excited that the paper is published where it is! Educational Researcher is the main publication venue for the largest education research organization in the United States (American Educational Research Association). Roy has been doing work in computing education for a very long time (e.g., “On the prerequisites of learning computer programming,” 1983, Pea and Kurland). This is computational thinking hitting the education mainstream.
Jeannette Wing’s influential article on computational thinking 6 years ago argued for adding this new competency to every child’s analytical ability as a vital ingredient of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. What is computational thinking? Why did this article resonate with so many and serve as a rallying cry for educators, education researchers, and policy makers? How have they interpreted Wing’s definition, and what advances have been made since Wing’s article was published? This article frames the current state of discourse on computational thinking in K–12 education by examining mostly recently published academic literature that uses Wing’s article as a springboard, identifies gaps in research, and articulates priorities for future inquiries.
Georgia’s Department of Education is revising their curricula for computer science. You can see the existing pathway definition for “Computing” (here), and the definition of the existing first course “Computing in the Modern World” (CiMW). CiMW is based on the CSTA Standards, and includes computing topics like data representation, Moore’s Law, algorithmic thinking, and problem solving.
The proposed new first course is linked here, as part of the now-called “Information Technology” Pathway. It’s called “Introduction to Digital Technology.” It does include computational thinking, but removes most of the computer science pieces.
Why are they doing this? We are not sure — Universities have not been involved in the revision, only high school teachers and industry folks. One theory is that the Department of Education wants to better align high school courses with jobs, so that high school students can graduate and go into the IT industry (perhaps same goal in NYC?).
I suspect that another reason for the change is the challenge of teaching teachers about CiMW topics. Teachers can’t teach everything in CiMW because (I suspect) many of them teaching the course don’t all know the content yet. Some of the high school teachers involved in the redesign told us that they were asked to use fewer computing buzzwords, because the teachers don’t know all those terms. The teachers in this pathway are Business teachers, often with little STEM background. Professional development budgets in Georgia have been slashed since 2007 when the Computing Pathways was launched. It’s disappointing (if I’m right) that the decision is to reduce the scope of the curriculum, instead of helping the teachers to learn.
The new course is open for public comment (here). If you are interested, please consider leaving your comments on the changes in the questionnaire.
Overall, this feels like the last time that Georgia un-decided to let AP CS count towards high school graduation. Two steps forward, one step back. “Constant vigilance!”