Posts tagged ‘K12’
Useful piece that helps to explain how the US can be doing so well in terms of education and so awful at the same time. The problem is our enormous variance, in part explain by our enormous size. Averages are way different than individuals.
Part of this is easy to explain: The United States is big. Very big. And it’s a far bigger country than the other members of the OECD. We claim roughly 27 percent of the group’s 15-to-19-year-olds. Japan, in contrast, has a smidge over 7 percent. So in reading and in science, we punch above our weight by just a little, while in math we punch below.
But the point remains: In two out of three subjects, Americans are over-represented among the best students.
If we have so many of the best minds, why are our average scores so disappointingly average? As Rutgers’s Hal Salzman and Georgetown’s B. Lindsay Lowell, who co-authored the EPI report, noted in a 2008 Nature article, our high scorers are balanced out by an very large number of low scorers. Our education system, just like our economy, is polarized.
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.”
It’s out! Yay!
That may change, however, as it’s much easier to get started in Scratch thanks to a new release of the platform that lives entirely in the browser.
You can try the programming language here and the new version allows for webcam interaction with the on-screen sprites and you can now add vector-based graphics that will scale without losing resolution. You can also create your own programming “blocks” and add new logic to your programs or games.
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
• 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).
MUST READ: Hacking at Education: TED, Technology Entrepreneurship, Uncollege, and the Hole in the Wall
Audrey Watters has an insightful essay that show how the “Hack Education” and TED movements misunderstand school. Public school is not better than learning on your own. Public school is about making sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn. I believe that the issues are the same for MOOCs, which tend to draw a well-educated, majority-class, and male audience. I highly recommend reading her entire essay linked below.
“I’m the first MacCaw not to go to Cambridge,” says one of the informant. This and a myriad of other utterances are rather mind-boggling markers of privilege, markers that Hacking Your Education fails to examine and that the book seems extraordinarily unaware of.
One hack it offers for the young uncollege-er: “take people out for coffee” — budget $150 a month to do so. Another hack: “go to conferences.” Sneak in. “Hardly anyone will notice.” Another hack: “buy an airplane ticket.” “You can go anywhere in the world for $1500.” “Collect frequent flyer points.” Too bad if you’re big or black or brown or a non-native English speaker or the working poor or a single mom. Just practice your posture and your grammar and your email introductions, and you’re golden.
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!”
This is stunning: New York City Schools are going to teach computer science and software engineering in grades 6-12 in 20 schools starting this Fall. By 2016, they plan to more than triple the number of children enrolled in the “Software Engineering Pilot program.” I’m really curious about how they’re going to ramp up professional development to this scale. It’s a great test for the future CS10K plans by NSF. It’s not clear to me the goal — that these children will be ready to enter the IT workforce with their high school diplomas, or that these children will have the skills to succeed in later certificate and degree programs?
“We know it’s vital to prepare our children to succeed in an increasingly technology-centered economy and the Software Engineering Pilot will help us do just that,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This groundbreaking program will ensure that more students receive computer science and software engineering instruction so that they can compete for the tech jobs that are increasingly becoming a part of our city’s economy. We’re creating the home-grown workforce our city needs and teaching our students skills that will open up new doors for them and their future.”
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.
What a strange story! Are there really “kids” using coding skills to hack accounts? Or is there one case of one 11 year old Canadian boy, which has AVG concerned about coding instruction? And who’s calling C# “elementary”? What elementary schools are teaching “C#”?
Why would AVG be concerned about kids learning to program? It’s not the case that most CS classes cover “How to make a virus 101″ or “Advanced how to cheat other gamers.” I wonder if this is another case of “Don’t learn to code — leave it to the experts.” Is it really threatening to IT firms that more teenagers are learning to program?
Kids as young as 11 are using coding skills to hack accounts on social media and gaming sites, according to one report. Antivirus firm AVG says children are writing malware to steal data and virtual currency from friends.
However, the hacks are still in their infancy, as researchers found errors that trace back to the original source. One author included his exact email address, password and additional information, revealing an 11-year-old boy in Canada. Most programming languages researchers found in the study were elementary, such as C# and Visual Basic. Check out the video, above, for more.
One of the challenges of being a social science researcher today is anonymizing your data. In our project at Georgia Tech, we are asking the Human Subjects Review Board about sharing a data set that we created in an anonymized form. There’s some question as to whether it was sufficiently anonymized. ”African-American, female, 15 years old, Hall County” feels pretty anonymous, but when you add “in a computer class” or “taking a Girl Scout animation workshop,” we’re now talking about a very small number of people. It might be possible for someone to identify the student. The Board is trying to decide if that’s anonymous enough. The dataset becomes much more anonymous if we leave out the school district or county, but if we do, we lose our connection to socioeconomic status, school district performance on tests and high school completion rates, and other factors that do matter to our analyses. If we provide those other variables and not the district, it becomes possible to triangulate the county.
I recently received this message from CSTA:
Code.org is a recently launched public 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to the vision that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn to code. (see recent features on TechCrunch and in the NY Times)
We’re building a database of every classroom that teaches computer programming – whether in elementary school, college, full-time, or afterschool/summer. However, we’re only looking to list classrooms that teach programming (as opposed to computer usage/literacy)
You can search the existing database and if your class/course/university isn’t listed, PLEASE submit it at http://www.code.org.
(your private contact info won’t be shared, spammed, or sold. But the other info is listed publicly to help students and teachers find the class)
I checked with our external evaluators, and they’re worried. With even “female, 15 years old, Hall County,In a CS class,” you can go look up in Code.org where all the CS classes are in Hall County. This wouldn’t be a big deal if there were hundreds of classes, but there aren’t. The number of programming classes for most counties and school districts will be countable on your fingers. (You probably won’t need your toes). This is a huge deal for researchers. We won’t be able to share our data and collaborate on analyses anywhere near the same way, not without breaking federal guidelines about anonymizing participants data.
It’s not at all clear if the data that Code.org is assembling about schools is at all useful. Sure, there’s a high school in your school district offering programming. You may be able to send your kid there rather than local school district, but it depends on the policies of your school district. Let’s say that you learn that there’s an elementary school the next county over that’s offering programming. You definitely can’t enroll your kids there without moving. I don’t see how getting schools to make public where they are offering computer science helps us promote computer science. (I’m also wondering who vets and maintains this database — a spotcheck shows several errors already.)
I exchanged email about this blog with Hadi Partovi, the founder of Code.org. His argument is that if there are computer courses in every school, his database is not a problem, and that’s where he wants to get to. I agree with the goal, but the database creates a short-term stumbling block. It prevents the researchers from studying and improving computing education while it’s growing.
I love the idea of making sure that people can find learning opportunities. I believe that this national database of programming courses creates more privacy and research ethics problems than it solves.
From his February 14, 2013 Google+ Hangout, President Obama discusses the importance of computer science in preparing the nation’s future workforce.