Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Five Things YOU Can Do To Help Computer Science Education

This week Time magazine ran an article: Can We Fix Computer Science Education in America? You should go read it. No problem, I'll wait.

The tech industry is one of the few bright spots in a dim economy. So why aren't we teaching kids the skills they need to participate in it?


The good news is there are a lot of folks out there working on this.

  There are of course there are programs like Exploring Computer Science and the new CS Principles pilot that offer curriculum and training for teachers trying to build computer science in our schools.

But the real question is what are YOU doing? This issue impacts all of us. It is not OK to just sit there hoping someone else is plugging away at this. Seriously, Cameron Wilson's great, but he's pretty busy already.Five things you should do NOW to help computer science education:
  1. Get every kid you know under the age of 10 hooked on Scratch or Alice or even QBasic. Let them play, and ask questions, and show off what they make.
  1. Ask if computer science is in your local schools - then ask why not. Oh, and don't just ask about your school...ask about that other one, down the block. The urban/rural/under-served school. Those kids need this too.
  1. Stop blaming guidance counselors and administrators and every other bogey man out there. No one likes whiners, and those folks are busy worrying about dropout rates and intruder drills and grumpy parents. Give them something to value in computer science. Positive energy breeds long term success. Make the Computer Science program something they can brag about.
  1. Go to a CSTA meeting. No local chapter? Start one - it's super easy. 
  1. Select one:
  • If you are in Virginia - comment on the new technology SOLs. Not sure what to say? How's this: Computer Science is the discipline underlying all innovation, especially in the STEM fields. Our students need to move beyond just working on learning computer applications to learning the computer science topics that will build their success in school and future careers. Computer Science should be included in the Computer Technology SOL's.
  • Don't live in Virginia? First, yes our standardized tests are called SOL's. No, that is not a joke. Second - find your state standards. Is computer science in there? Just figuring out where you state stands is a great first step.

So my question for you - what are YOU doing?


  1. Amazing advises, and looking at the big picture they are extremely usable. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great work here! As someone said recently, "Understanding the cyber dimension of your career is a requirement for everyone!" They also said, "Every future job WILL have a cyber dimension to it!"

    But how do we attract people with Computer Science degrees to teach? When I gave up my 23-year career as a software engineer, I gave up half my salary to become a math and computer science teacher. To me, what I get from working with my students and seeing them succeed is worth far more than what I used to be making. Plus I am making a difference in my student's lives, something I never had the opportunity to do as a software engineer.


So, what do YOU think?