The web pages contain new resources for CS education, including prgrammes and resources for learners, as well as programmatic resources for teachers. The educator material offers the visitor free online courses, as well as access to software programs like Pencil, in order to grow basic practical skills.
The coding and tools section of the web site makes available open source resources like Blockly, IDE’s for Chrome apps and practical collaboration techniques to explore coding through drawing art, playing music and creating games.
The research, diversity and scholarship sections of the new site are, perrhaps narturally coming from Google, very heavily influenced by U.S. curriculum and learning opportunities. However, the Open Source and collaborative software elements of the coding platform are universal.
If you have a laptop, a well motivated CS teacher and a school network then you should be able to benefit from the Google CS Education Platform wherever you are located.
This is Computer Science Education Week. Across the globe, and in the UK too, children and young people are taking part in the Hour of Code.
An attempt to harness fresh interest and excitement, as well as understanding, of the basics of web and code literacy. Important knowledge to have in the skills basket, as the world moves ever more closer to technology.
Whilst such initiatives do not address the core issue of access to this technology, for those who have a route to a point of contact with a keyboard, the enthusiasm is evident.
The lack of women entering STEM continues to be part of the science and education debate. That there are gender role-models for young wormen is celebrated in a recent on-line article from Microsoft.
…women and girls who, while representing roughly 50 percent of the world’s population, account for less than 20 percent of computer science graduates in 34 OECD countries,
17 for 17 allows seventeen female computing professionals, from a variety of academic backgrounds and interests, the opportunity to express their vision of how the world of computing and code will change society by 2027.
Microsoft in Cambrdidge, UK has members of its team illustrating the future advances in biological computation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, human centred computing and accessibility, as well as security and privacy forecasts.
Despite some pessimism about the political landscape of education, it is always welcome to see gender affirmation and success in an often difficult, male dominated arena.
The barriers may be coming down at last.
Best wishes to our readers for the forthcoming festive holiday…
A recent parliamentary report, by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee,Digital Skills Crisis, looks at the state of IT in business, education and the development of a broader UK strategy.
The report contains not only the analysis, assessment and findings of the committee, but also looks at a variety of conclusions and recommendations for the sector.
The findings of the committee declare that there is a ‘digital divide’ in the UK, with up to 12.6 million adults lackiing basic digital skills. The report finds that there are probably still some 5.8 million people who have yet to use the internet at all.
The report identifies a recent Royal Society report into Digital Skills and notes…
‘If the workforce is to be future-proofed, education systems in the UK must be designed to equip everyone with strong literacy and numeracy skills, information literacy and a mind-set that is flexible, creative and adaptive. This will be crucial to preparing today’s young learners for a future economy in which the skills needed are not only unpredictable now, but will continue to change throughout their careers…’
In the Committee report it is concluded that Ofsted have found the impact of digital technology on education standards has been varied. The variety of outcome, Ofsted argues, is due to a lack of standard investment across the sector, access to high speed broadband geographically and suitable teacher support for the cause of Digital Skills.
The report is generally praiseful of the changes to the ICT curriculum from September 2014, with stress placed on the input of industry experts and academia. However, only a third of teachers hold the relevant qualification for ICT and cites a report from the British Computer Society, which stated that only 25% of computing teachers felt conficdent delivering the revised curriculum.
Some, but not all, of the recommendations made by the Committeee include…
‘The Government has set targets for recruiting teachers in Maths and Physics. They should also make a similar pledge for Computer Science’.
‘We recommend that the Government request Ofsted to include the computing curriculum in their inspections…’
‘The Government should encourage the uptake of existing available resources by schools, many of which are free.’
‘We recommend that the Government work with the Tech Partnership to establish a regular forum for employers to raise and discuss their priorities for ensuring the computing curriculum and its teaching stay up to date, and to help ensure that other school subject qualifications provide a foundation for a broader range of digital careers.’
We recommend this comprehensive, clear headed and detailed report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to all who are interested in education and the digital economy. See the full report here.
Interestingly the RSA have recently published new research, which shows how, in the North of England, enterprise in the digital sector is booming. A veritable Digital Powerhouse in the North in fact.
Reading the two reports together, it is apparent that embedded in this second report from the RSA, is a development success in digital enterprise, that, it can be argued, runs across the grain of the pessimism of the Parliamentary report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee above.
We offer the new work, Digital Powerhouse (.pdf), using as it does the digital economy of the north of England as both metaphor and research instance to examine and make suggestions for development in what is obviously a successful arena. In spite of, not because of, education if seen through the prism of the House of Commons paper.
We had a small intake of breath when we read the headline for a web article, just published, about a state funded school in Orange County, Florida. They are intent on holding a STEM event only for boys.
No wonder some of the technically qualified, female parents began a petition to resist such a move. Which they did. In the U.S. Title IX states that…
‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance’.
(Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688, co-authored and introduced by Senator Birch Bayh; it was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002…Ed.)
The school have since issued statements stressing that the event was planned as a son and mother event, which still renders some parents speechless, the subject hanging, as it does, on a core branch of the curriculum tree. Stunning thinking in the twenty first century? See the original story on the pages of Jezebel.com here.
The issue of women and science education is part of an on-going debate in England too.
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 November 2015 at the University of Nottingham – Book on-line here.
‘What is Missing in Action about? A collaboration between the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Digital Women UK, this ‘thought space’ will allow female digital entrepreneurs, academics, creative practitioners and those interested in this field, to discuss professional challenges and concerns, share insights and learn from each other’s experiences and studies of digital entrepreneurship.
Why the title? Missing in Action reflects the fact that although female digital entrepreneurs are aspiring to start up status, or are working widely in the UK, very little is known about who they are, which communities they come from, the obstacles they face and which entrepreneurial activities they are engaged or interested in’. (Narrative source – Digital Women UK – November 2015)
Although this is a female digital entrepreneurship event, the undertow of educational neglect of women in science education is, we would argue, a clear current for discussion.