Friday, January 01, 2016

Computer Science Education Things to Watch in 2016

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” I was thinking about writing a post with predictions but realized that I’m not smart enough for that. What I do have are some things I think are worth keeping an eye on over the coming year.

Very Inexpensive Computers – There are a growing number of under $20 computers coming on the market. They are being touted as amazing teaching tools but I’m not so sure. I addressed some of my concerns in How Much Does a $5 Computer Cost? If I were to make a prediction I would predict they will not live up to the hype.

BBC:MicroBit – one could argue that this is included in the very inexpensive computer category but I think it deserves to be called out on its own because it is different in some important ways. One is that it is really being rolled out in a huge way. Another is that there are a good number of cool looking tools created for using it. And a third reason is that there is actually being a lot of professional development being provided. Will that be enough to make it really succeed? I don’t know but I’ll be watching from across the pond and so will many other people.

MOOCs and other Online CS Teaching tools – I expect the evidence to continue to show that these do not increase or broaden participation of girls and minorities. On the other hand, I expect a lot of people to promote them as “the answer.” They are low cost “solutions” to a problem a lot of people in government and education administration want to check of their lists. Saying “it’s available online” helps them avoid spending real money on real teachers and real programs that really work. We’ll see.

Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles – This course and test goes live in 2016. How will adoption go? Will it draw students away from APCS A or will it increase the total number of AP CS students? What will be the popular curriculum? There are a bunch of them out there. Many don’t use traditional programming languages but use things like Scratch, Blockly and Snap!. Will universities give AP credit? So many questions. I go back and forth in my mind as to how I think they will be answered a year (or year and a half) from now. Keep watching. It’s going to be important.

Python vs Java vs drag vs drop programming – Python has been growing in popularity in K-12 CS education for the last several years. I tend to think that the APCS A course is mainly what is keeping Java in schools. Will APCS P pull attention away from Python? Yes, some of the curriculum out there will likely use Python. Some even Java but there seems to be a movement to Snap! and similar.

Computer Science for Everyone – I’m thinking especially of large school districts and states that were talking about spreading CS everywhere last year. Can they pull it off? A lot is going to depend on professional development. Can they recruit and train enough teachers? What will curriculum look like? It’s going to be interesting watching.

Well that is the big six for me. What are you looking to see succeed or fail in 2016? Have I listed your concerns? Do you have predictions or anything else to add? That’s what comments are for.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I think (and hope) there will be even more structure and organization around teacher training and lobbying to administrators.