I recently spoke at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards annual conference, Teaching and Learning 2015. In this video I cover the rationale and essential messages of the modern computer science education movement. I’d say this is a good place for the wanna-be CS advocate to start.
See the whole blog post here.
The most significant professional development experience I’ve ever had was in 2010 when I represented the United States at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum in South Africa. I presented a project that I used to recruit and retain women in my computer science classes called “Game Programming with the Microsoft Zune to Promote Women in Technology”. The professional development during the conference focused on structuring innovative, project-based learning experiences which impact society. After talking to teachers whose projects were educating their students and impacting their communities and visiting a low-income school in South Africa, I was inspired to connect my teaching to social causes. Upon return, my AP CS students were challenged to create programs which modeled the life of South African street children. My game development students were directed to make games related to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The result was not only games based on maternal health and environmental sustainability, rather than zombies and explosions, but students who understood the role that technology could play in impacting their world. Three years later, my students have just wrapped up a project creating apps for a non-profit called Legacies of War, dedicated to bringing awareness to the unexploded munitions dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War. Download Anatomy of a Cluster Bomb at the Google App store. Incorporating meaningful contexts with deep project experiences makes learning real and motivating.
Why is it is important to teach students how to code? (full interview)
PAT: I’ll start with the misconception that learning to code is what Code.org is all about. It’s a little bit broader than that. It’s about learning computer science, which is different than coding. Coding is just another word for programming, and programming is like painting. When someone studies art, they don’t just study painting, they study much more than painting, but painting is an expression of art. It’s the same thing with someone who studies music. They may learn how to play one instrument, but that’s not music. Music is much more than the act of playing an instrument, and so while we do believe that everyone should learn how to code, even more so we believe that everyone should learn computer science.
So, why computer science is really the question, and the answer is because — if I could boil it down to just a couple words — it helps you to think better. Now, lots of subjects help you to think better, but computer science is the driver for so many innovations in so many different fields that it really is the tool for the 21st century.
We live in a digital world, and kids need to learn how to interact with this digital world as creators of technology and manipulators of technology rather than just as passive users of technology. Computer science allows them not only to do that, but also to think in that manner. Whatever they want to do, whether it’s fashion design, cooking, app building, or video game design, computer science is going to help them achieve their passion, their dreams, in our current world.