K-12 educators in the U.S. are struggling. Like everyone else, they know that computer technology is a well-paying, in-demand field that’s desperate for a more diverse workforce. But many have had a hard time figuring out exactly how to prepare kids for tech careers and provide them with a basic understanding of computer science. Until now, that is.
A coalition of computer science organizations — led in part by the Seattle-based nonprofit Code.org — recently released the K–12 Computer Science Framework. The document provides a roadmap for educators eager to expand beyond lessons in how to use a spreadsheet or build a PowerPoint deck.
And perhaps most importantly, the framework aims to make computer science welcoming to all students — including female, black, Hispanic and other kids who have been disproportionately absent from these classes and, ultimately, the tech industry.
“We’re at that point where districts all around the country are looking around and thinking [computer science] is huge,” said Greg Bianchi, STEM Curriculum Developer for the Bellevue School District.
But without guidance, “how does someone in a K-12 system navigate that, and make the right choices to say, ‘Here is what we want to do at K, here is what we want to do in third grade?’” said Bianchi, who’s also a project consultant for Washington STEM, an educational nonprofit.
And while the framework could better prep kids for tech careers, it’ll do more than that, supporters said.
“The reason for kids to learn computer science is not that they’ll enter the software industry workforce — although certainly some will,” said Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, via email. “It’s that no matter what career you choose, knowledge of computer science is increasingly essential — it’s a life skill in the 21st century, not vocational training.”
Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, endorsed the framework.
But it’s an area of academics that has been dominated by white and Asian male students.
A study just released by Gallup and Google found that middle and high school girls say they are less interested in computer science and less confident that they can learn it than boys. The survey also found that black students were less likely to have a computer science class at school than white peers, and that both black and Hispanic students spend less time on computers at home.1
Read more here: www.geekwire.com/2016/kids-really-need-know-computer-science-new-roadmap-wins-widespread-support/