Archive for February 28, 2013

IT Research Hearing Focuses on Security and Computing Education

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.

via IT Research Hearing Focuses on Security, Education.

February 28, 2013 at 1:26 am 6 comments

Georgia proposes reducing CS in high school curriculum

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!”

February 28, 2013 at 1:16 am 3 comments


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