Computer Science Courses that Don’t Exist, But Should https://t.co/mVgJd8HIwi
— The Practical Dev (@ThePracticalDev) January 8, 2017
I saw this article today and wondered why? Why is the conclusion that students should share their expertise? Students who perform at the top, whether because of higher self efficacy or practice are not utilized for this in every other area. Why not stand the model on its head and PAY for an educator with both salary and time. Research in Math shows that students who do well, continue to work hard, they do not have the time to “share”. This is an A/V model, not CS.
Why not provide time for a CS teacher and appropriate pay? Why not admit this isn’t the same as all other teaching? Other educators do not have to spend the same time every week to keep up with and work on projects with this kind of depth. When was the last time these teachers didn’t just get training, but time to do an app or a project. Why would the kids listen to someone who doesn’t.
A survey of UK schools carried out by Microsoft and Computing at School reveals some worrying statistics that are probably more widely applicable.
The UK is working hard to introduce a new emphasis on computer science at school but, as always, the problem is getting the teachers up to speed. With computing there is the added difficulty that if a teacher is a good programmer or just a good sys admin then they can probably earn a lot more elsewhere.
The survey revealed that (68%) of primary and secondary teachers are concerned that their pupils have a better understanding of computing than they do. Moreover the pupils reinforced this finding with 47% claiming that their teachers need more training. Again to push the point home, 41% of pupils admitted to regularly helping their teachers with technology.
On the plus side, 69% of the teachers said that they enjoyed teaching the new computing curriculum and 73% felt confident in delivering it. However, 81% still thought that they needed more training, development and learning materials.
Interestingly, only 41% of the pupils wanted to learn more computing than was already being taught in schools, and only 40% thought that their teachers knew more than they did about advanced things like coding and building websites.
This isn’t all due to the teachers being new at the task – 76% had taught computing before the new curriculum was introduced. It seems that switching from an approach that emphasised computer literacy to one that actually wants students to do more difficult things is the reason for the problem.
To try to help, Computing At School with some funding from Microsoft has created QuickStart computing a training toolkit.
Last week pupils and teachers were invited to the Microsoft Showcase Classroom in London for a Computing At School workshop ahead of the launch of QuickStart Computing
The real problem is that people who know about computing aren’t generally lured into teaching. This contrasts with other subjects where graduates find it more difficult to get jobs that pay as well. Getting teachers who know more about computers than their pupils seems to be a tough thing to do. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that pupils do know more and find ways of enabling and encouraging them to share their expertise.
AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools,” lamented The White House last December as President Obama kicked off CSEdWeek. “China teaches all of its students one year of computer science.” And the U.S. Dept. of Education has made the AP CS exam its Poster Child for inequity in education (citing a viral-but-misinterpreted study). But ignored in all the hand-wringing over low AP CS enrollment is one huge barrier to the goal of AP-CS-for-all: College Board materials indicate that the average 11th grader’s combined PSAT/NMSQT score of 96 in reading and math gives him/her only a 20%-30% probability of getting a score of ‘3’ on the AP CS exam (a score ‘4’ or ‘5’ may be required for college credit). The College Board suggests schools tap a pool of students with a “60-100% likelihood of scoring 3 or higher”, so it’s probably no surprise that CS teachers are advised to turn to the College Board’s AP Potential tool to identify students who are likely to succeed (sample Student Detail for an “average” kid) and send their parents recruitment letters — Georgia Tech even offers some gender-specific examples — to help fill class rosters.
Please read the original post, much better conversation, links, serendipitous continuity. I have captured the article below as I want to use it in class and you know how things tend to disappear just when you want them online. Silly editors, school takes place on a longer timeline.
From this article at ReadWriteWeb on the Ladies Learning Code team come the story of them starting HackerYou and pursing other opportunities for women to learn to code and not in a University setting. Read the article, it is an interesting team of women tackling a difficult problem.
A university alternative
As to the need of a private alternative to the university system, Payne points to a survey finding high demand for software developers from startups. A paper presented at the European Conference on Information Systems in 2009 confirms the need for information technology workers, even in a down economy.
Still, a 2008 study found that enrollment in university computer science programs in all but one Canadian region was actually down between 36% and 64% from its peak in 2002.
Computer science education has its issues in the U.S., as well. The University of Florida planned to cut its computer science department, and though the most drastic version of that plan has since been withdrawn, students and faculty are still fight to save the department.
Regardless of what you think of the merits of universal code literacy, HackerYou and similar programs in other cities – such as Code Academy in Chicago, General Assembly in New York City and Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco – have an opportunity to help close the talent gap.