Friday, December 22, 2017

Looking Back on Computer Science Education in 2017

Time to look back on the past year I think. I wrote a post in January about what I was watching (Computer Science Education Things I’m Watching in 2017) so I think a wrap up is called  for. So what was I watching and what did I see?

Computer Science for Everyone – I think we’ve seen a lot of progress here. States continue to write standards and develop plans for teacher certification. My own home state of New Hampshire had certification requirements approved for example. Now we’re working on K-12 standards. We’re ahead of some states and behind others. I think we’ll all be looking at the leading edge states going forward. There is still some discussion over if “for all” means it is offered to all of if it means everyone has to take it. We’ll see that continue to shake out this coming year I think.

Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles – I think the number of students who took this last May surprised a lot of people. I know it was even more than I expected. I have been teaching it this fall (I’m using the curriculum but there are other excellent ones available). My students seem to be enjoying the course and learning a lot. While I am curious to see how they do on the exam I am more curious to see what they think of the course a couple of years down the line. That is the real judge of a course in my opinion.

Enrolment in APCS A is down in my school but I am not sure if that is a result of the APCS P course (some of my APCS P students already took APCS A) or some other factor. This is something else to watch going forward.

Expanding CS Education Before High School – The #CSk8 twitter chat continues growing by leaps and bounds. My feeling is that we saw a lot more K-8 CS people at the CSTA conference this past summer as well. I think in some regards we’ve seeing faster growth here than we are at the high school level though I don’t have actual data. and organizations affiliated with the CS for All Consortium have done a lot of training.  The CS for All Consortium says they have worked with 5% of all the schools in the country. That is huge for year one.

Making and CS – I haven’t seen as much here as I had hoped. Where I do see it most is in K-8 though. I think that makes sense as K-8 CS curriculum is starting from a much smaller base and has a lot less inertia from existing CS curriculum to work around. Plus younger students are used to making things in school.

There are some curriculum resources using making but they tend to cover the range of grades 6 through 9 (or maybe 10). That’s good as far as it goes but I’d really like to see an advanced CS course involving the Internet of Things or serious making that is different from robotics. The AP courses may be more of a barrier than a help there though.

What Else? Looking back I see that government interest in CS education continues to grow. Even the Trump administration seems in favor of it. They may not be pushing it as hard as the Obama administration but they are doing more than just not getting in the way. Real progress requires work at the state and local levels and that support seems as strong as ever.

What were the highs and lows of computer science education that you observed in 2017? And what should I be watching in 2018? That blog post comes out after the first of the year.

1 comment:

Garth said...

The Making and CS is sort of interesting. I have been watching and reading about the trend. From what I have seen there is not a lot that can be done at the high school level that does not break the bank. Most of the non-robotics projects seem designed for the 4-8 grade level. I have talked to teachers that are using 3-D printers but what they are printing, or even capable of printing, is just so trivial. Toy cars and chess pieces. They are not even designing the models, just downloading the image from the internet. I have a friend who teaches tech at the local public school. Designing on the computer then cutting with a laser cutter or a 3-D mill. He is doing some great things but his budget is 5 figures. When schools are unwilling to budget a CS teacher I can only see Making as a fun direction for those little middle school projects or for the big buck industrial arts programs.