Most teachers agree that computer science education is critical to students’ future success in the workplace, but not all teachers feel qualified to teach the subject, according to new research.

The Microsoft and YouGov survey, released in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, reveals that while 88 percent of teachers say computer science will play a pivotal role in students’ workplace success, 30 percent say they feel under-qualified to prepare students for a more digital future, and 20 percent feel overwhelmed.

Two in 10 teachers say their students aren’t taught computer science at all, and of that 20 percent, the primary reasons are: computer science isn’t a part of their school’s curriculum (60 percent), there is a lack of funding (30 percent), and it’s not a subject on which students are tested (25 percent).

Fifty percent of parents in a previous survey say they believe that among certain skills, coding and computer programming is the most beneficial to their child’s future employability.

Teachers say computer science education reaches beyond coding and can help students build important skills. Thirty-eight percent say it helps students with problem solving, and 31 percent say it can help students build logic and reasoning skills.

Teachers also see the act of coding as being a great way their students can learn skills that aren’t traditionally associated with the topic: 83 percent of teachers believe coding can build students’ creativity.

Teachers believe computer science can aide to their students’ success, but 75 percent are concerned the federal and state governments aren’t doing enough to equip schools to build students’ skills. Teachers also believe big tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple should help schools build those skills.

An October report from Code.org examines the state of K-12 computer science education and notes that, despite half a million computing jobs sitting open in the U.S., schools still have a lot of progress to make.

Across 24 states, just 35 percent of high schools in the U.S. teach computer science—and minority, rural, and economically disadvantaged students are even less likely to go to a school offering computer science.

To make coding instruction a bit easier, Microsoft launched a new Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial, the Voyage Aquatic, which takes learners on an aquatic adventure to find treasure and solve puzzles with coding. Voyage Aquatic encourages students to think creatively, try different coding solutions and apply what they learn in mysterious Minecraft worlds.

Minecraft: Education Edition also launched a major update this month, which is intended to make it easier to learn and teach coding using Minecraft. The Code Builder Update is now available for all users on Windows 10, macOS, and iPad. Users can code with Microsoft MakeCode and Tynker, and open Code Builder directly in-game with a simple keyboard or touch command. Minecraft Education offers professional development, tutorials and free lessons for all educators—no matter a user’s experience level.

Microsoft also announced a new commitment of $10 million to help Code.org ensure every state will have passed policies to expand access to computer science, and that every school in the U.S. will have access to Code.org professional development—all by 2020.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura