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Ensuring our nation’s security: The case for computer science education

Fox News – Hadi Partovi and Erin Seifring

“Last month, state, industry and education leaders in the United States injected a breath of fresh air into our political system. Amid escalating polarization between presidential candidates, 28 bipartisan governors and 77 leading CEOs and educators from across the country asked Congress to fund K-12 computer science education. And now bipartisan congressional leaders are getting behind this issue with over 135 Republican and Democrats coming together to ask the Appropriations Committee to prioritize K-12 computer science education funding.”(more)

Online schooling wave of the future or failed experiment?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“You have probably heard the claim, “If you choose to educate your child online, he/she will be a social misfit.” To analyze this assertion, it is important to understand online education.

There are two basic types of online education: real-time and self-paced. In real-time online courses, students attend class on a computer. Classes are held at specified times and students participate in discussions during class periods. Each real-time online class is slightly different, because students participate in the instruction.

Self-paced courses are prepared in advance. Students progress through the material at their own pace. There is no real-time class interaction. Proficiency is sometimes tested with quizzes or tests that are integrated into the learning material. In this case, students must pass a quiz/test before they move on to future lessons. In other cases, students are required to go to proctored test centers to take exams.

In general, self-paced courses work well for material that requires little discussion. Real-time classes are more effective when most of the student learning occurs during classroom dialog.

Online education is appealing, because there is less wasted time. There is no need to drive to a physical location, worry about disruptions that occur in physical classrooms, or waste time dressing for school. In addition, students and parents have the ability to work school around other things in their lives.

Self-paced instruction is more cost effective than traditional classroom teaching, because lectures are prepared in advance and are used many times. In addition, this type of course delivery can be of higher quality than traditional classroom instruction, because the best teachers can present the content and there are no interruptions.

Some students find self-paced online instruction challenging, because they can procrastinate to the point that it is nearly impossible to learn the material. As a result, there is a reasonable argument that self-paced instruction is only appropriate for highly motivated and disciplined university and high school students.

Also, it is possible for students to succeed in an online environment without learning how to interact with others. As a result, it is imperative that online students have other avenues for developing social, leadership, and team skills.

Online education is not for everyone, but is an attractive alternative for motivated, self-disciplined students who have a strong social network and opportunities to build leadership skills and learn how to work on a team outside of school.

 

How every school can promote safety in a digital world

E-School News – Harold Reaves

“Keeping students safe in the digital era — with its myriad dangers — means a proactive IT strategy. Technology has become a mainstay within the walls of today’s schools. One-to-one computing is enhancing and enriching the student experience, transforming the way we teach and the way we learn. K-12 schools were expected to spend approximately $4.7 billion on technology this past year, according to IDC, with no sign of a plateau. But as rapid technology adoption continues unabated, the safety of the students who are meant to benefit from these advances is frequently overlooked.”(more)

Students Should Learn Programming. But It Shouldn’t Count as a Foreign Language.

Slate – Valerie Woolard

“Legislators in Florida have put forth a bill that would encourage high school students to take computer science classes by allowing them to earn foreign language credits after obtaining technical certifications. While their goals are laudable, their execution is flawed. As a recent Vox article pointed out, programming languages are completely different from natural languages. Computers and the code that powers them are literal, emotionless, strict, and free of nuance or ambiguity. Human language is anything but. This is not to say that code cannot be artful, clever, and beautiful, but to think of learning code as a substitute for learning a second language completely misunderstands the point of learning both coding and foreign languages in the first place.”(more)

Coding is not a suitable substitute for learning a foreign language

Daily Titan – Gerard Avelino

“Foreign languages and computer languages are two completely different concepts, but lawmakers across the country have begun proposing that high school students be allowed to fill their foreign language requirement with coding classes…The rationale behind these proposals is rooted in the rapidly changing world of information technology. Jobs in programming and various information technology fields continue to be in high demand…The choice, however, between computer languages and natural languages draws from a false equivalence: the way humans communicate with computers is not the same way that they communicate with each other…For computers, language is — quite literally — mathematics: rules and symbols that manipulate numbers to achieve an intended result. For humans, language is used to communicate ideas and express thought.”(more)

U.S. schools have more computers than ever. But what are they doing with all that (expensive) technology?

The Hechinger Report – Nichole Dobo

“A show-stopping school of innovation today can quickly devolve into tomorrow’s has-been. Keeping track of who’s doing what in the diverse field of blended learning, which mixes online and in-person education, isn’t easy. There are few sure things in life, but the lightning-fast rate of change in education technology is a given. The Blended Learning Universe and its new website, blendedlearning.org, offer a solution for schools and those who want to track local trends. It has assembled a database of more than 300 profiles (and counting) from 175 schools districts in 38 states.”(more)