New programs aim to lure students into digital jobs

The country needs more cool nerds — people who can use computing in ways that haven’t even been thought of yet. And high schools are starting to do their part, reports the New York Times. Hybrid careers that combine computing with other fields will increasingly be the new American jobs of the future, labor experts say. But not enough young people are embracing computing–often because they are leery of being branded nerds. Educators and technologists say two things need to change: the image of computing work, and computer-science education in high schools. Professional organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery and the National Science Foundation are pushing for these changes, but so are major technology companies such as Google, Microsoft and Intel. One step in their campaign came the week of Dec. 7, National Computer Science Education Week, which was celebrated with events in schools and online. Today, introductory computer-science courses are too often focused on teaching students to use software like word processing and spreadsheet programs, said Janice C. Cuny, a program director at the National Science Foundation. The agency is working to change this by developing a new introductory high school course and seeking to overhaul Advanced Placement courses as well. It hopes to train 10,000 high school teachers in the modernized courses by 2015. One goal, Cuny and others say, is to explain the steady march and broad reach of computing across the sciences, industries, culture, and society. That message must resonate with parents and school administrators, they say, if local school districts are to expand their computer-science programs… 

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