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Years ago, not too many people knew what computer science was or how it would impact education and careers in future years. Computers were once limited to business and scientific industries. These were large machines that took up full rooms. Now every adult and a majority of teens have a computer in their pocket. Computers that are filled with apps and coding capabilities.
Every industry has practical and innovative applications with computer technology and it’s not changing. As we see more jobs replaced with computer technology it is important to get ahead of the trend and make sure our students and teachers are able to pivot. Currently, if students do not leave school with at least some basic applicable knowledge of computers and computer systems, they are already behind their peers.
In order to give their students a leg up on others, 33 states have now made changes and require some form of computer science in their curriculum, more states will more than likely follow their lead.
As schools incorporate computer science into their curriculum, districts and states will need to create a plan on what should be taught, learning expectations and how they can expose all students, no matter the location of their school, to the same technology and learning opportunities. Most states do not have the same definition or expectations for this new subject area, so it is hard to track data across the country.
This is a new subject area being added into schools, so more teachers must become certified to teach these classes. The problem is there aren’t many programs in place at this moment to certify those interested teachers. Educators need to be well-versed and prepared to teach next steps in computer science for this to benefit students and schools.
According to 2019 State of Computer Science Education Equity and Diversity (2019), “Most states have developed their own state-specific K–12 computer science standards. State-specific adaptations include emphasizing aspects of the standards to reflect the local economic priorities or implementation scenarios. Joining Maryland and Virginia’s emphasis on cybersecurity, North Dakota adopted the nation’s first Computer Science and Cybersecurity Standards, embedding cybersecurity knowledge and skills across all grades and strands in the standards.”
Teachers that see the importance of computer science and are already incorporating it into their classrooms are locating their own resources, team planning and creating lessons based on student needs. This isn’t happening across all settings and schools though. As districts are investing in technology, teachers are taking charge and learning how to incorporate the programs into their classes before districts are able to provide training.
Underrepresented communities are less likely to be offered or exposed to computer science education for a multitude of reasons. Lack of resources, lack of planning, lack of qualified teachers. This extends outside of public schools to colleges and professional environments as well. Knowing the opportunities this additional skill set gives, it should be a priority for all districts, but especially districts that serve these families. Some states are including equity guidance into their standards but more need to keep this in mind as their curriculum is developed.
Educators know students learn in different ways. This is an additional way to tap into their creativity and critical thinking skills. From basic coding and graphic design to app development, using computer science to reach students that might otherwise not be interested in school or extra curricular programs.
Considering the endless possibilities and potential of computer science education, educators should encourage growth in their schools and districts. Not only will students have a better chance of working in the computer science industry but because this is a new endeavor within districts, additional opportunities will arise for teachers.
Curriculum development, in-school training, district coaches and instructional leaders will be needed to implement the new programs. Working closely with other academic departments to share ideas and help incorporate technology into the curriculum that is already there.
Finding creative and innovative ways to work together as a teaching community is the first step in this exciting nationwide initiative. Interested in learning more? Make sure to check out our professional development opportunities for computer science.