K-12 computer science helps students build essential skills for personal and professional success--here's how to support learning efforts.

Friday 5: K-12 computer science trends

K-12 computer science helps students build essential skills for personal and professional success

Key points:

K-12 computer science is essential, not just for students who may pursue computer science or STEM fields in college or the workforce. Computer science principles give students critical computational thinking skills that will serve them in any career field or professional endeavor.

Let’s take a look at K-12 computer science trends and where computer science education is heading across the country:

Who is a computer science educator?

The short answer: Anyone can be a computer science educator! Well-intended computer science initiatives are often met with reluctance and resistance before they even get off the ground. Teachers may see the new initiative as “just another thing” on their plate or may feel ill-prepared to tackle an entirely new discipline. To ensure a smooth transition to teaching computer science, campus and district leaders will need to empower teachers with ownership of the change, versus simply asking them to comply with it. Here are a few tips to ensure that your teachers are provided with space, support, and resources that will help them confidently assume ownership over the implementation of computer science initiatives.

Is there a demand for computer science teachers?

Computer science is a rapidly advancing field; educators have to make those changes if they are going to prepare their students for the modern world. Trying to teach a subject that’s ever-changing might feel a little intimidating to some teachers, especially if they don’t have a background in the field. Fortunately, the skills students learn in a K-12 computer science framework are evergreen, and many of the changes within the field are manageable for the educators involved. Here are three keys to preparing to teach this dynamic subject without feeling like the ground is constantly shifting under your feet.

Why computer science in K-12?

Computer science is so much more than just coding, from the basics to advanced computer science concepts. It builds foundational and transferable skills, such as logistical deduction, critical and computational thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. Most importantly, computer science is not just for older or future students to learn; it’s critical for all students to learn right now as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. When this educator set out to transform how her district taught computer science, teachers decided to start with the youngest learners. By starting with kindergarteners, teachers hoped to build basic building blocks and confidence that would carry them through their learning journey. Learn how bringing computer science to young learners can equip students with the skills and confidence from an early age to be curious in their STEAM learning and pursue more in-depth computer science learning along the way.

What are computer science practices?

Computer science practices offer simple opportunities to differentiate instruction–edtech can make these concepts even more accessible to students. Computer science is more important than ever. In the age of artificial intelligence, the study of computers and computational systems—including their theory, design, development, and application–represents a new frontier in science. New fields in computer science seem to emerge each day and now include computer systems and networks, security, database systems, human computer interaction, vision and graphics, numerical analysis, programming languages, software engineering, bioinformatics, and theory of computing. Here are some of those topics and the edtech tools I use to make these concepts even more accessible to students.

What are the essential components of computer science?

In analyzing computer science core concepts and to shift the culture in computer science classrooms, educators not only need to emphasize the value of the subject, but also need to show how computer science can be a “tool for solving problems and issues in your own community and for social justice.” That also requires educators to think more “holistically” about computer science and embed it across disciplines, she said. Teacher training has remained a roadblock. While the CS4All initiative aims to reach 5,000 teachers through a two-week summer professional development session, more substantive courses have been sparse. Here’s how teachers can address equity issues in K-12 computer science.

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Laura Ascione
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