Why The New Computer Curriculum Makes Educational Sense


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Slides written by Simon Peyton Jones, Chair of the Computing at School Group (CAS) showing why Computer Science is now regarded today as a fundamental science and no longer a 'geek's game'

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Why The New Computer Curriculum Makes Educational Sense

  1. 1. Keynote 2 Simon Peyton Jones Microsoft Research and The Computing at School Working Group
  2. 2. Information and Communication Technology A statutory part of the national curriculum, from primary school onwards.
  3. 3.  The most exciting discipline on the planet comes over as dull and de-motivating  “The image of IT-related degrees and careers was that they would be repetitive, boring, and more-of-the-same; for example use of IT office applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, and databases”. The next bullet says “The ICT GCSE had a major part to play in creating their (negative) impressions”. [2008 “IT & Telecoms Insight Report” published by Eskills UK]  “The assessment requirements of some vocational qualifications may actually be limiting students’ achievement. In many of the schools visited, higher-attaining students were insufficiently challenged....much of the work in ICT at Key Stage 4, particularly for the higher attainers, often involved consolidating skills that students had already gained proficiency.” [2009 Ofsted report “The importance of ICT”]
  4. 4. Maths 80,000 and rising
  5. 5. • • • • • Disciplines Principles, ideas Knowledge, laws Techniques, methods Broadly applicable Dates slowly Physics, chemistry, mathematics, English • • • • • • • Skills Technology, artefacts Machines Programs Products Organisations Business processes Dates quickly Budgeting, presentation skills, metalwork, textiles
  6. 6. Computer Science (discipline) Barely taught • • • • • • Principles Ideas Laws Broadly applicable But needs application Dates slowly No KS4 qualification at all (2009) ICT (technology focused) Dominant • • • • • • • Spreadsheets Databases Powerpoint Using the web Safety on the internet Plan communication projects Analysing and automating processes Range of 14+ different KS4 qualifications
  7. 7. Too much ICTfocused) (technology focus onDominant technology Computer Science (discipline) Barely taught • • • • • • Principles Ideas Laws Broadly applicable But needs application Dates slowly • • • • • • • Spreadsheets Databases Powerpoint Using the web Safety on the internet Plan communication projects Analysing and automating processes Not enough on ideas No KS4 qualification at all (2009) Range of 14+ different KS4 qualifications
  8. 8. What most people think Computer science is a niche university subject for sociallychallenged male geeks The reality Computer science is a foundational discipline, like maths or physics, that every child should learn, from primary school onwards
  9. 9.  What students should know: languages, algorithms, data structures and representation, architecture, programs, communication and coordination.  What students should be able to do: computational thinking, abstraction, modelling, design, problem solving, programming. What might that look like in practice? In primary school?
  10. 10. http://csunplugged.org/sorting-networks
  11. 11.  Foundational  Not just “coding" or "programming” (although that too)  Not just to get a good job (although that too)  Not just for geeks, or even future software professionals  Primarily rooted in ideas rather than technology hence using the term “computer science” rather than “information technology”  Ubiquitous: biology, ecology, design, engineering, astronomy, medicine, even law, archaeology…  A quintessentially STEM subject (involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
  12. 12.  We live in a world suffused with digital technology. Ignorance of how that technology works means being a slave to it. The choice is: “Program or be programmed” (Rushkoff).  Computing teaches unique thinking and problemsolving skills: computational thinking, abstraction, creativity, and precision.  Information and computation gives a new “lens” through which to look at the world: eg flocks of birds, cell biology, cancer propagation, economics, ecology.....
  13. 13.  Livingstone/Hope report  Royal Society Report  Review of the National Curriculum  ...and much more...
  14. 14.  New title, first teaching Sept 2014
  15. 15.  The POS does not abandon ICT. The thoughtful and purposeful use of computers to get stuff done remains super-important.  Coding does not equal computer science. Programming is to CS as lab-work is to physics. Getting fixated on coding focuses attention on technology rather than ideas.  Technology-enhanced learning is also superimportant -- but is a totally different matter to Computing, and a whole-school responsibility.
  16. 16. CS Academic CS GCSE Age 16 Age 14 Age 11 Age 6 Apprenticeships A range of qualifications at age 16 Technical vendor quals Eg systems administration, network management, database (Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, etc) Computer Science ICT FE Colleges ICT Applied ICT GCSE/BTec Technology Enhanced Learning A levels
  17. 17. Awarding bodies Number of GCSEs in Computer Science Sept 2009 0 Sept 2010 OCR 1 Sept 2012 AQA, WJEC 3 5 Sept 2013 CIE, Edexcel  All awarding bodies are now offering a Computer Science GCSE, to complement their ICT GCSE  Computer Science is an EBacc subject
  18. 18. It’s no good writing a Programme of Study that schools cannot deliver Two massive challenges Equip, support, affirm, encourage our ICT teachers to teach computer science Attract qualified computer scientists into teaching, now that their subject is actually on the curriculum
  19. 19.  Vital to attract teachers with computing subject knowledge into the profession  DfE has now announced (Oct 2013)  A hundred £25k scholarships for high-flyers in Computing  Bursaries for ITT for Computing teachers at the same level as Maths or Physics  School Direct
  20. 20.  Old model: DfE rolls out national training programme  New model: DfE sets policy framework, we do the work
  21. 21.  Simply a group of individuals, concerned about the state of computing education at school in the UK  Varied backgrounds, common concerns         Teachers Industry (eg Google, Microsoft) University academics (incl CPHC, UKCRC) Members of exam board (eg AQA) Members of professional societies (eg BCS) Parents Local educational advisers Teacher trainers  Now fully part of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT  Few staff, little money, no office. Many volunteers
  22. 22. Now 3,158 4,517 5,682 6,642 members 453 572 joined in the last 30 days
  23. 23. Grass roots organisation Membership   Not all teachers! But a lot of teachers
  24. 24. Apps for Good Raspberry Pi Hack to the future Young Rewired State Greenfoot cs4fn YouSrc Computing at School CoderDojo Technocamps Code Club Make Things Do Stuff NextGen skills campaign
  25. 25.  Inspiring kids about computer science worldwide  Print magazine, webzine, school shows  Present interdisciplinary computing research with off-beat twists  Learn computing through magic, chocolate, beheaded queens, mazes, 'badly designed' babies...  Magazine sent to thousands of schools  Major impact over 8 years+
  26. 26.  Massive challenge 250,000 primary teachers 20,000 secondary teachers  Computing at School (CAS) and the British Computer Society (BCS) have launched a national Network of Excellence for Teaching Computer Science  800+ schools signed up  Single goal: support and equip our teachers to teach Computing  Primary and secondary  Modest DfE funding
  27. 27.  Most ££ funds Master Teachers, half a day/week, to develop and deliver CPD to neighbours  Sept 2013:  64 secondary MTs, 14 primary  770 schools, of which 208 lead schools  Aiming for 600 MTs  75+ university CS departments and schools of education involved  Corporate support: Microsoft, Google, Morgan Stanley, Ensoft, OCR, Metaswitch....
  28. 28.  The new POS is, in effect, launching an entirely new school subject (good, but challenging)  Turbulence and “ICT bad” messages have led to fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  Teachers have little time and less money. Getting cover for teacher absence is hard.  New CS GCSEs are (by design) demanding. What will that do to your league table results?  Scaling up CAS from a bunch of volunteers to a serious organisation capable of training the computing teachers of the nation
  29. 29.  ..we can do this!  So much energy  So much goodwill We are riding an unstoppable wave of creative enthusiasm Do not wait for someone else to do it. We have to do it. And we can, if we put our minds to it.  "We" = schools, companies, professionl bodies, IT professionals...
  30. 30. Air cover from the Head is absolutely crucial  Treat the new Computing curriculum as a strategic opportunity for your school  Invite your Head of Computing to put forward a plan for exploiting that opportunity; discuss with SLT and governors  Join the Network of Excellence (as a Lead School); partner with nearby schools; run a hub.  Be pro-active, not re-active http://www.computingatschool.org.uk