Archive for June 7, 2013

Cameron Wilson -> Code.org: Getting serious about a public policy impact

This is big news — Code.org has hired Cameron Wilson for a year.  Take Code.org’s reach and combine it with Cameron’s understanding of how public policy works. Cool!

Cameron Wilson, long-time Director of Public Policy for ACM, has been given a special assignment for 12 months to work at Code.org as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Government Relations.

Code.org was founded by Seattle tech entrepreneur Hadi Partovi to create, launch, and lead a new initiative for scaling K-12 computer science education.  A phenomenal video produced as part of the launch attracted widespread attention.  Today, 9 out of 10 schools nationwide don’t offer computer science; in 40 states, computer science does not count towards math or science graduation requirements; the NCAA doesn’t consider computer science as an academic credit for aspiring student-athletes; the recent National Research Council “Framework for K-12 Science Education” ignores computer science, as does the “Next Generation Science Standards” document derived from this framework.

We need to change this.  Computer science teaches you to think – it needs to be viewed as an essential component of STEM.

via Cameron Wilson -> Code.org » CCC Blog.

June 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm 2 comments

How to repel kids from science: By shackling curiosity in cuffs

One year, I gave an assignment in my Objects and Design class (in Squeak!) to construct a personal newspaper by reading bits of news (based on user interest) from local news sites.  The night before the assignment was due, so many students tested their buggy fetch-and-scrape code on one poor site that they killed the site — a pedagogical denial-of-service attack.

Should I or my students have been arrested and taken away in handcuffs?  It seems like the direct computing world analogy from the story quoted below.

Fortunately, the student has now been cleared of charges. It’s still a scary story.

It’s a sad commentary on our alarmist society that a similar deed would probably land a modern day budding Oliver Sacks in jail. That is exactly what it has done to a young aspiring scientist named Kiera Wilmot from Bartow High School in Florida, and in the process it has almost certainly deprived this country of exactly the kind of scientist whose shortage its politicians and educators are so fond of lamenting. The student conducted a common experiment mixing Drano and aluminum foil on the grounds of a school. The exact details are unknown but the incident led to a minor explosion, hurt nobody and damaged no property. This relatively harmless bit of curiosity led to Ms. Wilmot being handcuffed, arrested and expelled from the school. Irrational State Overreach: 1, The Much Touted American Edge in Science: 0. Whatever else the school was trying to achieve, it definitely succeeded in squelching independent scientific curiosity in its students.

via How to repel kids from science: By shackling curiosity in cuffs | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network.

June 7, 2013 at 1:28 am 2 comments

Interaction between Geek-Boy Culture, Gender Diversity, and Education

A nice piece making the argument that we can’t fix the computing employment shortage without diversifying our labor pool.

I found this quote (further along from the quote and link below):  “Geeks often have a hostile relationship to formal education. Rather than sit through a pre-programmed curriculum with problems and solutions laid out in advance, geeks like to tinker and hack to solve new problems and innovate.”  If that’s true (and I believe it is), why are geeks advancing MOOCs, which are as formal and pre-programmed as you can get?

Despite a deserved reputation for progressiveness, the tech sector is highly exclusionary to those who don’t fit the geek stereotype–and this tendency is getting worse, especially in Silicon Valley. You might have heard, based on 2011 numbers, that only 25 percent of the U.S. high tech workforce is female, and the percentages have been in steady decline since the nineties. The numbers for minority women are even more dismal. Hispanic women represent 1 percent of the high tech workforce, and African-American women don’t fare much better, at 3 percent. The better the jobs, the lower the proportions are of women and non-Asian minorities. Despite the diversity of the population of the region, Silicon Valley, which boasts the highest salaries among tech regions, fares much worse than the national numbers.

via The Geek-Boy Irony Behind Mark Zuckerberg’s Tech Lobby ⚙ Co.Labs ⚙ code + community.

June 7, 2013 at 1:27 am 3 comments


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