CS Resources Abound But There’s Still a Crisis in CS Education

Late last week I attended and spoke at the Wisconsin Mathematics Council Annual Meeting at Green Lake.  They allowed me to speak twice about computer science.  In fact, we are lucky enough to have a math organization that encourages a group of us current and former CS teachers from around the state to put together a strand of sessions.  We were able to pull together 4 other individuals to talk on a variety of CS topics.

One of the topics I explored with 10 interested attendees was entitled “Resources Supporting Computer Science and Information Technology” with the description “In recent years, many useful resources have become available to both support schools developing computer science curricula and for teachers to teach these courses. We’ll explore materials available from CSTA, NCWIT, ACM, ISTE and other groups. The resources address a range of activities including creating a program, recruiting students and supporting and enhancing quality curriculum for high schools

My intent was to talk about resources from the four groups mentioned and then move into more specific resources including languages, language environments, curricula available, videos, mobile app development and a bunch of other stuff.  As it turns out we spent nearly all of the time on the NCWIT and CSTA resources.  Fortunately, I had a number of the resources to give to the attendees. I have a wiki on which I have all of the highlighted resources referenced with links.  At the top of the wiki I also have the set of slides I pulled together for this part as well as the second part.  If you go to http://ncwitcstaresources.pbworks.com you can get both parts of the presentation and the set of links.  This will also lead you to the second part http://csitresources.pbworks.com for all of the many items I culled from the monthly newsletter I write for ISTE/SIGCT (SIG for Computing Teachers).  Actually, if you want to get at those issues, you can click here http://sigct.iste.wikispaces.net and find not only the issues to this school year but a link to the previous 5 years of newsletters.

How’s that for unabashed self-promotion.  All free all of the time.

The next day I did a session with the more evocative title  “A National Crisis: The State of Computer Science and Information Technology in Schools and Future Workforce Projections”.  The description for the session was “This session will explore the trends in the workforce for computing specialists as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, and look at the pipeline to fill the nearly 1.5 million positions that will be coming available over the next six to eight years. Then we’ll look at approaches to deal with this problem along with resources available.”

I opened the session with the slides developed by Cameron Wilson from ACM which highlight the incredible needs for Computing Specialist (US Dept of Labor term) individuals and the continued bad though slightly improving state of CS in middle and high schools (again I had about 10 attendees, some from the previous session, others new).

Aside from raising some eyebrows with the information, part way into this session I asked the attendees to sit in pairs and either take one of the CSTA posters available for them and come up with a lesson around the poster; or they could take the policy brochure and begin planning an advocacy event for a parents’ council or school board meeting.  During that time I heard and shared some incredible stores of schools just eliminating all CS courses because they thought it was enough for the students to learn to use Word and PowerPoint and, oh by the way, most programming jobs are overseas anyway!!!

Hard to believe that we still hear those kinds of statements and beliefs, but I guess that only means we have a bunch more work to do.  As an anecdote to ponder, I did point out that I sit on an IT Advisory Board for a large community college and one of the large employers of software developers announced that they’re moving all of the mobile app development back here from overseas because of much higher cost than earlier thought.  More of that is coming.

If you’re interested in the presentation slides and the wiki, you can go to http://expandingcswisconsin.pbworks.com  for that information right at the top of the wiki.  There’s other stuff there too which you might find interesting.

Onward and Upward!



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