Posts tagged ‘CS10K’

Design-based Implementation Research: What we need for CS10K and ECEP

This caught my eye as something that we really need to push computing education.  For CS10K to be successful, we need a mesh of education research with public policy work.  That’s what ECEP is about. In particular, this kind of multiple stakeholders work is what I think that the U. Chicago Landscape Study is pointing toward.

“Design-Based Implementation Research applies design-based perspectives and methods to address and study problems of implementation…DBIR challenges education researchers to break down barriers between sub-disciplines of educational research that isolate those who design and study innovations within classrooms from those who study the diffusion of innovations.”

From the Introduction to the forthcoming NSSE Yearbook, Design-Based Implementation Research: Theories, methods, and exemplars.

This web site presents resources related to an emerging model of research and development called Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR). DBIR has four key principles:

  1. a focus on persistent problems of practice from multiple stakeholders’ perspectives
  2. a commitment to iterative, collaborative design
  3. a concern with developing theory related to both classroom learning and implementation through systematic inquiry
  4. a concern with developing capacity for sustaining change in systems

via Home.

May 30, 2013 at 1:01 am 3 comments

What I Learned from Computing in Schools Efforts

I just did a Blog@CACM post on my experiences at three meetings over the last two weeks, learning about efforts to get computing into primary and secondary schools in two countries (Denmark and England) and in two US states (South Carolina and Maryland).

Here are those four big lessons (with more detail in the post):

  • It’s easier to have something in place and then improve it, than to convince others that computing should be squeezed in.  
  • Industry voices matter.
  • Public policy support goes a long way.
  • Economics isn’t the only argument.

 

May 22, 2013 at 1:12 am 4 comments

Heading to Denmark May 10-16

I’ll be traveling to Denmark with Barbara Ericson on May 10 to attend a conference at Aarhus University on their new computer science curriculum.  Michael Caspersen invited us out.  Simon Peyton-Jones of the Computing At Schools effort in the United Kingdom will be speaking as well.  I’m copy-pasting the program (translated from Danish) to give you a sense of what it’s all about. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the efforts to move computing into primary and secondary education in Denmark and the UK.

The purpose of the conference is to establish support for our efforts by raising political awareness at all levels of decision making in our society related to teaching computing in school (parliament, regional and city councils, high school principals, high school teachers, deans, chairs and professors in computing departments, IT organizations, journalists, etc.).

09.30 Registration and coffee

– exhibition of student projects opens

10.00 Welcome

– Peter Hesseldahl (moderator)

10.15 Digital literacy: creative and critical innovation — three perspectives

– Michael: Insight and vision through computing

– Jacob (high school teacher): Computing — a creative, critical and constructive subject

– Susanne: Why does society need digital literacy?

11.15 Break

11.45 Digital literacy in an international perspective

– Mark: Why everyone will need digital literacy in their life

– Simon: Digital literady: Why every child should learn computing from primary school onwards

12.15 Lunch

13.15 Panel: On the importance of digital literacy for high school students

– Christine Antorini, Minister of Children and Education

– Morten Østergaard, Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education

– Morten Bangsgaard, CEO, The Danish IT Industry Association (ITB)

– Anne Frausing, Principal and representative for the High School Principal’s Association

– Gitte Møldrup, Managing Director, IT-VEST — Networking Universities

14.30 Break

15.00 Simon: Computing at School: How the UK is radically reshaping its curriculum for the 21st century

15.25 Mark: CS10K: Providing access to computing education across the US

15.50 Wrap-up

16.00 End of plenary session

16.30 Exhibition of student projects ends

May 6, 2013 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

Google’s Computer Science Teach Fellows Program

At first, Google contacted us to find existing CS teachers to be part of their new teaching fellows program, but they’ve just opened it up to new grads as well.

Google is searching for talented (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering or Math teachers to join a 2-year post-graduate program designed to grow leaders in computer science education. The program targets new graduates passionate about the future of computer science education. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis for a two-year program that begins in June 2013. Applicants must be able to commit to the entire two years. As a part of the practicum, you will be working with thought leaders in education to learn the newest techniques and programs for computer science pedagogy, implementing programs with area schools and students, and creating your own innovative approaches to student learning. You can apply for the position and find more details about the program on this website. Please direct any questions you might have to TeachCS@google.com.

The role: Computer Science Teaching Fellows, New Grad 2013

Minimum Qualifications:

• Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field

• Some form of teaching or instruction experience (e.g., teaching assistant, tutor)

• Able to commit to a 2-year program and start June 2013

• Willing to relocate to/within South Carolina

http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/students/tech/fulltime/uscanada/computer-science-teaching-fellows-new-grad-2013-berkeley-county.html

April 25, 2013 at 1:14 am 5 comments

Special issue of ACM TOCE on Computing in Schools

The ACM journal Transactions on Computing Education is going to have a special issue devoted to Computer Science Education in K-12 Schools.  Well worth exploring.

Recent activities in several countries, for example in the USA, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South Korea, show a growing awareness of the importance of rigorous computer science education (CSE) for a successful, self-responsive and self-deciding life in the modern world. Consequently, serious efforts are made to introduce or to improve CSE in schools that will be followed by other countries, as we hope. Yet, for any country that wants to improve CSE in schools, it would be advisable to learn from the experiences that were made somewhere else. Nevertheless, those experiences were gathered under preconditions and circumstances that usually differ strongly from country to country. Unfortunately, the short format of conventional scientific papers prevents most reports about such experiences from covering all relevant aspects of the respective context. To produce relief, this Special Issue of TOCE aims to collect extensive, detailed case studies that discuss as many relevant aspects as possible, for example regarding the category system that was proposed in 2011 by the ITiCSE Working Group about Informatics in Secondary Education [1].

via Computer Science in Schools Solicitation Letter.

February 7, 2013 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

£3m investment in Computer Science and Digital Literacy in Wales

New Zealand, Denmark, Israel, Computing at Schools England, and CS10K here in the US — there is a growing movement to improve computing education at the national level. Wales just announced a large investment to improve computing education there, too.

Computer science touches upon all three of my education priorities: literacy, numeracy and bridging the gap. It equips learners with the problem-solving skills so important in life and work.

The value of computational thinking, problem-solving skills and information literacy is huge, across all subjects in the curriculum. I therefore believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn concepts and principles from computer science.

Indeed, computing is a high priority area for growth in Wales. The future supply and demand for science, technology and mathematics graduates is essential if Wales is to compete in the global economy.

It is therefore vitally important that every child in Wales has the opportunity to study computer science between the ages of 11-16.

via £3m investment in Computer Science and Digital Literacy in Wales « Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything.

November 13, 2012 at 7:20 am 4 comments

“Florida is killing Computer Science”

“Florida is killing Computer Science,” was the first thing that Joanne Barrett told us when we asked her how things were going in Florida. Barbara and I went to Orlando to give the Technology track keynote (joint! It was fun!) and two breakouts at the FCIS Conference on Thursday. Joanne ran the Technology track at FCIS. (Our travel was sponsored by CSTA and Google – thanks!) The mood of the CS teachers we met was dismal.

Currently, computer science is part of the academic high school degree in Florida — the classes that one would take as College preparation. It’s mostly taught by mathematics teachers. This year is the end of that. This is the last year that the current CS classes will be offered.

As of next year, all the computer science classes in Florida will be moved into business, as part of career preparation. As we understand it from Joanne, they literally won’t count for credit towards an academic high school degree. The AP CS will stay in the academic track, but all the other computer science courses will move to business.

Why? Exactly the same issue as in Georgia: Perkins funding will pay for hardware, so career prep has the computers, and it gets computer science. We spoke to one business teacher who is desperately seeking professional development to prepare herself for teaching all these new computing courses. We met one of the teachers at the Florida Virtual High School (which has a really cool CS sequence, and an astounding success rate for their students on AP CS), and she said that they may not even be able to offer any CS next year. FVHS is about academic subjects, and CS is being re-classified. Florida is also looking for industry certification for the end of the Perkins-funded pathway, and the teachers we talked to said that they’re currently considering an IEEE Certification — which is explicitly for graduates of four year degree programs, not high school students.

What will this do to CS education in Florida? it won’t be “killed,” but it will be changed. I worry about the quality, when swapping out all the experienced math teachers for inexperienced business teachers. I can’t the impact on CS10K goals.

Can AP CS succeed (in particular, the new CS:Principles effort) as a standalone AP, with all the other CS courses in another track? Maybe. I wonder how much effort school districts will put into AP CS, if they have a different, funded CS pathway. I also wonder if CS:Principles can meet its goal of helping to broaden participation in this context — the career prep programs that I’ve seen are far more heavily under-represented minority than the college prep programs. What if the minority students you want to draw into computing via AP CS are off taking the career prep classes?

November 9, 2012 at 8:12 am 11 comments

The Need for an Industry-based Java Exam: Guest blog post by Barbara Ericson

Barbara has been facing a challenge in dealing with the State of Georgia lately that could impact other states. I offered my blog as a forum for raising the issues more broadly.

We have a real need in Georgia for a certification exam for high school students that is similar to the AP CS A exam in content and price, but is industry-based. Georgia is pushing career pathways and wants to have each student who completes a pathway take some type of exam where they can earn an industry certification. They claim this is due to the Perkins legislation that passed in 2006.

The purpose of the Perkins legislation is to develop students for “high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations in current or emerging professions” which certainly matches computing jobs. It is also intended to “integrate rigorous and challenging academic and career and technical instruction, and link secondary education and postsecondary education for participating career and technical education students”. It goes on to say that the goal is “designed to provide students with a non-duplicative sequence of progressive achievement leading to technical skill proficiency, a credential, a certificate, or a degree.” Since students can receive academic credit for the the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) A exam from postsecondary institutions, the AP CS A exam should count as leading to a degree.

In Georgia, we have created a computing pathway which has 3 courses: Computing in the Modern World, Beginning Programming, and Intermediate Programming. The committee that created the computing courses had recommended that that pathway end with AP CS A instead of Intermediate Programming, and that the students pass the AP CS A exam to prove that they have learned the material. But, Georgia won’t allow the AP exam to be used as an end of pathway exam. I recommended the Oracle Java associate exam, but it is $300 and that is just too expensive. The AP exam is $89. Georgia has picked a Skills USA computer programming exam (see description here) that covers Java, C++, and Visual Basic. That exam doesn’t match the standards in the pathway courses, and we don’t want the teachers to have to teach 3 different languages. We are having a hard enough time getting them up to speed on Java, since most have no computer science background. The Career and Technical Education Department in Georgia thinks it is preparing kids for programming jobs right out of high school, which is not realistic. Students will need to at least an associates degree if they want a career in computing.

Georgia is poised to force every rising 9th grader to pick a career pathway. They are currently thinking about changing our computing courses to match the Skills USA test, since they can’t find a cheaper test that gives industry certification in Java. This is a huge problem. We have been working for years to improve computing in Georgia, and this would reverse many of our gains. We have introduced interesting and engaging courses using Scratch, Alice, Media Computation in Java, CS Unplugged, Greenfoot and App Inventor. Teachers would have to go back to boring, cookbook programming to get through 3 languages in 3 courses.

The Georgia DOE says is not going to change to allow an AP exam as an end of pathway exam. They claim they can’t since their efforts are part of the Race to the Top grant that Georgia won. They interpreted the Perkins legislation to mean that students must earn an industry certification. Other states may also use this same narrow interpretation and could end up in the same situation. This could be a major road block to the National Science Foundation’s plan to prepare 10,000 teachers (CS10K) to teach the new AP CS Principles course by 2016.

I recommend that Oracle create a new certificate only for high school students that is based on the AP CS A exam material and costs about $89. It could be a subset of the Java Associate material that matches the AP CS A material (extra topics to remove are: Java Development Fundamentals, Java Platforms and Integration Technologies, Client Technologies, Server Technologies).

November 5, 2012 at 7:15 am 12 comments

Rebooting Recruiting to Get More Women in Computer Science: Chronicle

A nice piece (with interviews with Barbara Ericson, Jeff Gray, Dan Garcia, and Maureen Biggers) on getting more women into computing.  I like that the story reflects current thinking and research on best practices for drawing more women into computing.  For example, we used to think that having more female professors was critical to provide role models.  But Joanne Cohoon’s work showed us that male professors can motivate women to consider graduate work in computing as well as female professors.

Experts on the gender gap in computer science have increasingly come to believe that a multipronged strategy is needed to close it. The tactics would include the following:

  • More-diverse programming activities, to seize the interest of middle-school girls, in the same way that role-playing video games are embraced by boys.
  • A revamped introductory course, whether taken in college or as an Advanced Placement course in high school, to provide a broad overview of the real-world applications of computer science.
  • Early exposure to research projects during the first year of college. (Ms. Lamm was paired with her mentor, Mr. Gray, during her first month at Alabama.)
  • Opportunities for undergraduates to interact with women who have enjoyed successful careers in technology.

via Rebooting Recruiting to Get More Women in Computer Science – Diversity in Academe – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

October 31, 2012 at 9:36 am 5 comments

BBC News – Computer science teachers offered cash incentive

Great news that the UK is putting up cash incentives to draw in CS teachers! This move addresses the biggest concern that I have for the CS10K project — where are we going to get the teachers? What will motivate them to study CS? A cash reward would certainly help.

Isn’t it a little surprising that Facebook, Microsoft, and IBM are being asked to design the training for the new teachers? Why them? Because they have so much experience training teachers? Or teaching people about CS? They may do a wonderful job. It’s just not an obvious set of choices.

High-flying graduates are to be given a £20,000 golden handshake to train as computer science teachers.

Ministers have asked Facebook, Microsoft and IBM to help design the training for the new teachers.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said current information and communications technology (ICT) teacher training courses would be axed from next year.

The move “could not be more welcome or more necessary”, said Prof Steve Furber of the Royal Society.

via BBC News – Computer science teachers offered cash incentive.

October 26, 2012 at 5:56 am 2 comments

CSU Alumnus First to Earn new Computer Science Teaching Endorsement

One teacher down, 9,999 to go for CS10K!  Seriously, this is a positive thing — Georgia has a CS endorsement (an add-on to an existing teaching certificate), and here’s the first person to earn it.

A LaGrange High School teacher for a decade, Mike Evans might not strike the casual observer as a pioneer.

But, thanks to Columbus State, a coincidence and his initiative, Evans has become Georgia’s first teacher with a computer science endorsement — meaning he now has special expertise to share with his many students who are curious about pursuing a career in computing.

via CSU Alumnus First to Earn new Computer Science Teaching Endorsement.

July 4, 2012 at 5:18 am 2 comments

Ben Chun asks, “What is the CS Education ask?”

Ben Chun posts an interesting article critiquing the NSF CS10K project, which is worth reading. (Thanks to “Gas stations without pumps” through which I first heard about Ben’s post.) i don’t agree with all of it — I’m not sure that it’s such a significant concern that the papers describing the CS10K project are “behind a paywall.” — most of the information is readily available at the CS:Principles site (and I believe that the articles from the recent InRoads will be made available soon).

But his main point is a valid one: This is a huge project, and it’s not obvious that it’s even possible, let alone whether it’ll be successful. He asks what specific policy changes are necessary. I don’t think anybody knows, because it’s not knowable in a general sense. Policy changes that impact high schools have to be made on a state-by-state basis. I know what we have done and would like to do in Georgia, and I know what’s going in Massachusetts, South Carolina, and California, but all four of those are completely different. Ben calls the desired policy changes “a unicorn,” but I think it’s closer to “that animal I can hear in the other room, thumping around, but can’t tell what it is yet.” I also agree that we need to figure out how to engage the whole community. I believe that that is happening, through CSTA Chapters and efforts like the AP attestation. I don’t know how to make it happen faster or more broadly, but I do believe that NSF is bringing together a team of people who do.

I say that because if you’re actually putting together a “large-scale, collaborative project bringing together stakeholders from wide-ranging constituencies”, you don’t bury all the information about it behind a paywall. I happen to be teaching at UC Berkeley this summer, but otherwise I wouldn’t even have access to the paper that describes the CS10K project. And I think I’m the kind of person that might be able to help. I actually teach high school computer science! I want more colleagues! I believe CS education is vitally important for young people! The fact that the first result for “cs10k” in Google takes you nowhere is a problem. The lack of open, public discussion of the issues and plans is a problem. The lack of savvy about engaging the whole community — including high school teachers and administrators — is a problem.

But dire as it is, that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that we don’t agree on what we’re asking for. It’s not that we disagree. We just have no idea. But at least the goal has been made clear, even if not effectively publicized: A new AP course in 10,000 high schools by 2015. (Or maybe 2016 or 2017, I now hear.) In 2011, there were only 2,667 high schools in the world with students taking the AP Computer Science A exam. Today, I think there are about 2,100 high schools authorized to offer the course in the US (not that all of them actually do). There are about 40k total public and private high schools in the US.

via What is the CS Education ask? « And Yet It Moves.

P.S. I’m in Oxford now, and start my classes this afternoon (early this morning for East-coasters, VERY early for West).

June 25, 2012 at 1:06 am 7 comments

BBC News – Google funds computer teachers and Raspberry Pis in England

Sally Fincher came to the CS10K Professional Development workshop last week, and I asked her why she thought Google was doing this.  She suggested that it’s probably because the UK doesn’t gave an effort like NSF’s CS10K, so Google is trying to play that role.  (Maybe the UK should try to clone Jan Cuny — if anyone can build up a nation of high school CS teachers, she can!)

He announced that Google would provide the funds to support Teach First – a charity which puts “exceptional” graduates on a six-week training programme before deploying them to schools where they teach classes over a two-year period.

Many stay on beyond that term while others pursue places at leading businesses associated with the programme.

At present the scheme is limited to seven regions of England: East Midlands; Kent and Medway; London; North East; North West; West Midlands; and Yorkshire and Humber.

“Scrapping the existing curriculum was a good first step – the equivalent of pulling the plug out of the wall” said Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google

Mr Schmidt said the donation would be used to train “more than 100 first rate science teachers over the next three years, with the majority focused on computer science”.

via BBC News – Google funds computer teachers and Raspberry Pis in England.

June 7, 2012 at 6:27 am Leave a comment

Blog Post #999: Research Questions in Computing Education

The 999th blog post feels like a good point to think about where we’re going.  Here’s how I define the big question of computing education research:

Computing education research is the study of how people come to understand computing, and how we can make that better.

But that’s the big question.  There are lots of research questions inside that.  Here are some of the ones that I’m intrigued by.  This is an overly-long blog post which I’m using as a place marker:  Here’s what I’m thinking about right now at the end of the first 1000 blog posts.  Skip around to the parts that you might find interesting.

What are the cognitive processes of learning to program?

Why is learning to program hard? The empirical evidence of teaching computer science suggests that it is. Failure rates worldwide of 30-50% in the first class have been reported for decades. The misconceptions and challenges that students faced in Scratch in Israel (ITICSE 2011) are quite similar to the same ones documented in Pascal at Yale in the 1980’s (Soloway et al.).

Are there cognitive challenges to learning programming that are unique among other disciplines? Perhaps so. Consider these two possibilities:

  • Agency: Writing a computer program is the task of providing instructions to another agent to execute, but a non-human agent. Miller in 1981 found that humans found it hard to describe task processes to another human, and the produced instructions required human understanding to interpret them. People do not naturally produce instructions at a level detailed enough for a computer to execute.
  • Time: A program uses a variety of notations to compress time, e.g., iteration and recursive constructs. These notations describe a process in brief which will execute repeatedly many times (perhaps millions of times). We know that these notations are among the most challenging for students to grasp.

Both agency and time notations are unique to the challenge of programming. Perhaps these factors (among others) help to explain why programming is so hard, and understanding these challenges will lead to new insight into how humans conceive of agency and time.

Where do problems/difficulties/misconceptions in learning programming come from?

Most students have no experience in programming computers before they enter their first computer science class.  So, no prior conception of assignment, memory allocation, WHILE and FOR loops, linked lists, or recursion — yet these are way up there on the list of things that are hard about learning to program.  They haven’t changed in decades, across multiple languages.  Where did those problems come from?  Do we teach them wrong?  Exactly where so that we can fix it!  Do students have some prior knowledge that is interfering?  What knowledge are students bringing to bear in learning to program?

Can we teach computing without a programming language?
Can someone learn what a computer is, how it works, and what its limitations are simply through non-programming activities?

Mathematicians did. Turing defined what a computer is, without a programming language. Instead, he defined a machine and a language.

I’m increasingly coming to believe that those are outliers — Turing and mathematicians who figure out computing without a computer are unusual, and we can’t do that at-scale.  Learning to understand computing is learning to understand a notional machine (duBoulay), to construct a mental model of how you expect the notional machine to work (Norman), and that mental model consists of decontextualized parts (deKleer and Brown).  It’s very hard to think about those parts without having names or representations of them.  It can happen, but it takes enormous cognitive effort.  It’s not going to be effective and efficient to reach our learning goals without a language.

Challenges for CS10K

The CS10K effort (to have 10,000 high school teachers capable of teaching CS:Principles in 10,000 US high schools) requires answers to some significant research questions. Some of these include:

What kind of pedagogy will fit into the lives of in-service high school teachers and other working professionals?

Computer science pedagogy today is mostly apprenticeship-based: Students get a bit of instruction (perhaps some modeling of good behavior), and then are expected to learn through doing, by programming in front of an IDE. While the apprenticeship-based model is effective, it’s inefficient if the goal is understanding about computer science, as opposed to expertise as a software engineer.

In-service high school teachers are a particularly challenging audience. Most likely, they will never be professional software engineers, and they are full-time (overworked) professions, so they have neither the motivation nor the time to engage in apprenticeship-based learning. How do we teach CS to these teachers in the small bits of time that they have available?

How do we create sufficient, high-quality on-line materials to lead to successful CS learning at a distance?

The best distance learning programs in the world (such as the Open University UK) rely significantly on text-based materials, because we know how to control costs while creating and maintaining high-quality content. CS is not best taught with printed text, since visualizations and simulations play a key role in student learning. How do we create sufficient (e.g., at reasonable cost), high-quality materials to support CS learning at a distance?

What will motivate high school teachers to take classes in computer science, to be engaged with the content, and to sustain their interest?

The existing CS teaching programs in the United States are woefully undersubscribed, e.g., Purdue’s CS methods course has never had more than one student enrolled each term that it is offered. What will drive more teachers into CS education?

What do teachers need in order to develop into successful computer science teachers?

High school teachers will not need to be professional software engineers. They do need to be able to present CS ideas, to assign and assess student work, and to mentor, e.g., to help facilitate student debugging and guide development. What are the learning objectives for CS high school teachers? How do we assess that development?

CS PCK: What is Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge?
In most disciplines, there is a body of knowledge of how to teach that.  How People Learn has a whole chapter on domain-specific teaching practices, and points out that those are much more powerful for effective teaching than domain-general teaching practices.  For example, science educators explain how to support inquiry-based learning, and mathematics educators know how to build on innate understanding of number.  We call that knowledge pedagogical content knowledge.    How do we best teach computer science?  How do we help future educators develop the unique skills to teach computer science?

May 3, 2012 at 6:16 am 18 comments

Two CS Endorsement programs in Georgia!

Exciting that Kennesaw University now has an approved high CS teacher endorsement program!  That makes two in the state, the other being the original at Columbus State.  This doesn’t fix the problem of getting teachers into these programs. Maybe a program in the Atlanta area may draw a different audience than an on-line program in West Georgia.  In any case, it is a positive for CS10K, in that it increases the potential production of teachers.  Now we just need more teachers taking these programs.

This endorsement is intended to prepare computer science teachers (grades 6 through 12). It will lead to teacher certification in the teaching field of computer science in Georgia. As an endorsement, the teaching candidate must already have or simultaneously obtain a teaching certification in another field.

via Endorsement In Computer Science Education – Department of Computer Science.

February 17, 2012 at 9:34 am 4 comments

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