Code.org grows CS Ed partnership to reduce the Babble in CS Ed

June 17, 2015 at 7:15 am 7 comments

I wrote my May Blog@CACM post on the “Babble of Computing Education,” about the wide variety of perspectives, definitions, and cross-purposes going on in the US in computing education.  At the end, I talk about the new Code.org partnership with the College Board and how this may reduce the Babble — the definition of CS Principles will become Code.org.  Owen Astrachan, co-PI of the NSF CS Principles grant, and I have a bet for dinner and beer that we made on Facebook.  I predict that in the first offering of the AP CS Principles exam, more than 50% of the schools that teach CSP and send students to the exam will be using Code.org curricula.  He thinks that there will be greater diversity.

I don’t know how the new partnerships announced below fit into our bet.  BJC, PLTW, and other curricula are now going to be promoted by Code.org as their partners.  Will a school adopt BJC because Code.org recommends it?  I think that’s likely.  Will the school believe that they are adopting a curriculum out of Berkeley or a Code.org curriculum?  I expect the latter.  From schools’ perspective, all the eleven new partners will be Code.org curricula. The definition of CS Principles will become Code.org.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing — that may provide a corporate face that will assure administrators in schools who don’t know CS.

“Code.org’s courses already reach millions of students globally in grades K-8,” Partovi said. “But as we expand in high school, we work region by region, and we can’t do it all. We’re leading a movement and we need partners to help.”

When Code.org meets with school districts, it will now also highlight the new partnerships as alternative ways to teach computer science versus utilizing Code.org’s own programs.

via Code.org inks 11 new partnerships to help expand computer science education – GeekWire.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

International Conference on Live Coding (ICLC), 13-15 July, Leeds, Registration open People (scientsts and faculty, too) don’t generally make evidence-based, rational decisions

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alfredtwo  |  June 17, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    I hope there is diversity. I think that initially people will be looking for curriculum that is already in place except for the few contrary people who always “roll their own.” It is possible that diversity will grow as those independent people have some success and share their ideas with others. I would love to see a whole strand on different APCSP curriculums at a future CSTA Conference for example. Or perhaps the prepackaged stuff will be so good that we wind up with fewer options. It’s really hard to say. HS CS doesn’t seem to be driven as much by not invented here syndrome as a lot of universities appear (from here in the sticks) to be.

    Reply
  • 2. Mike Zamansky (@zamansky)  |  June 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Hey Alfred – I’m one of those contrary people (grumble grumble).

    The reason we don’t have the not invented here syndrome is that for the most part CS is coming down from above not growing organically.

    Do we need the babble? Certainly. Will it fade? Most likely. I’ve been saying for a while that code.org seems to be as concerned about winning as about doing it right.

    Look at other disciplines – over my career I’ve seen various from above standardization of math ed with the whole CC thing being the latest and biggest incarnation. It’s what’s being pushed down onto, what we call “other people’s kids.”

    Where’s the babble? At the elite private schools that maintain the freedom to explore real education. Of course, they have the benefit of resources, small classes, students from well to do backgrounds etc.

    Reply
    • 3. alfredtwo  |  June 17, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I would argue that some public schools, especially magnet/entrance exam schools, have a lot of the same resources etc that private schools do. The key is not as much resources as a supportive administration. I have visited some very innovative public schools whose administrators leave the CS people alone.

      Reply
      • 4. Mike Zamansky (@zamansky)  |  June 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        It depends on the municipality and the school’s administration – in our case, we don’t get any special resources and our administration is so by the book that when the DOE says AP classes, common core etc all creativity dies.

        Reply
    • 5. Mark Guzdial  |  June 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      The reason we don’t have the not invented here syndrome is that for the most part CS is coming down from above not growing organically.

      I see why you see it that way, but I see the same thing very differently. What you see as CS “coming down from above,” I see as providing a scaffolding for schools that can’t grow CS organically. Most CS teachers I’ve met through “Georgia Computes!” would not grow their own CSP curriculum organically. They lack enough background, confidence, and self-efficacy. Certainly, also a lack of administrative support, as Alfred describes, but that’s a minority of teachers (literally, < 10% in Lijun Ni's dissertation study).

      You have a lot of background, experience, and confidence. Most CS teachers don't. What's more, if we get anywhere near CS10K, the vast number of new CS teachers will have even less background, experience, and confidence. The CSP curricula that are being provided (from Code.org, BJC, PLTW, Mobile CSP, etc.) make the difference between being able to offer CSP, or not.

      I run into this tension with the resources that I provide for my Python MediaComp book. I’m a CS teacher at a top research university. I expect to provide the book and perhaps an exemplar set of Powerpoint slides, and the teacher should be able to tailor the materials from there. But I increasingly get asked for a solutions manual (we did one for the 4th edition), all the book code typed in (ditto), a test bank (there’s one for earlier editions, but I didn’t update for 4th ed), and a set of labs. I totally get it — many CS teachers have a far heavier teaching load than me, and don’t have time and TA support to build or tailor everything for their course. Not everybody can build everything organically.

      Reply
      • 6. zamanskym  |  June 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

        Mark – I agree with what you’re saying here 100% – most places need the top down – just noting why we don’t see as much not invented here.

        My fear for the top down is two fold –

        One – where is it coming from – for instance, I’m not at all comfortable with the recently announced partnership between code.org and the college board – particularly as it relates to the PSAT 8/9 – I’d much rather see real local partnerships between colleges and high schools (which I understand is something you do) where it’s local and there’s some commonality even though the jobs and teaching of a k12 teacher and a college professor are different in certain respects.

        Two – I’m also concerned with what I call the “good enough” where teachers will be run through minimal training and set loose to basically teach from a script. This is a fear beyond CS — its’ part of the TFA model and I’ve seen it in many charter school models. We’ll have CS but it won’t be particularly good. This fear can be largely mitigated with direct local support.

        Maybe I’m just getting to be too much of a curmudgeon.

        Reply
      • 7. alfredtwo  |  June 17, 2015 at 11:33 pm

        For the textbooks I have written I have also been asked for answer sheets, test banks and coded solutions. I’ve done a series of project books as well and while I think the projects are all easily done by high school students (most of them have been done by my students) I still get regular requests for coded solutions. That scares me a bit.

        When I was hired for my first HS CS job I was told there wasn’t a teacher’s edition of the book handy so no answer sheet. I naively replied that if I needed an answer sheet they’d hired the wrong person. I’ve since learned that a lot of teachers need those answer sheets.

        When teachers are a chapter ahead of the students and need the answers handed them to do that what are students missing? Yes I understand that it’s hard to find and hire more experienced teachers. There are not that many out there. Most of them have either been around a long time or industry retreads who could make more money in industry. I don’t have an answer.

        Reply

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