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Computer science in high school?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Computer science has advanced considerably since the first computer programming language was developed in the 1950s. Instead of using punch cards to communicate with large mainframes, coders now work on personal computers, enjoy user-friendly programming languages, and have access to extensive libraries that include algorithms for many common operations.


Here are some of the highlights from the history of computer science from 1953 – 2016:
1953 – The first computer language, COBOL, is created.
1977 – Jobs and Wozniak incorporate Apple.
1985 – Microsoft announces Windows.
1998 – Google is founded.
1999 – WiFi is introduced.
2004 – Facebook is launched.
2007 – Apple introduces the smart phone and app developers flourish.
2016 – The first reprogrammable quantum computer is created.

During this period, Gordon Moore (Intel), Steve Jobs (Apple Computer), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Steve Case (AOL), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and many others made fortunes using zeros and ones to process and store information.

In 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced development of a new “Molecular Informatics” program that moves data processing and storage to the molecular level. Instead of using zeros and ones these molecular computers would use qualities like size, orientation, and color to process and store massive amounts of data.

If the molecular approach to computing is accepted, computer science would likely shift from a discipline within electrical engineering to a specialty of chemical engineering. In addition, there would no longer be a need for traditional circuit boards and other computer components. Most, if not all, of the current computer programming languages would be obsolete.

With the possibility of such a radical change, one wonders how education needs to morph to prepare our children for the new paradigm. Sadly, it is impossible to predict the exact direction technology will take. As a result, it is impossible for schools to develop a curriculum that provides the perfect preparation for the workplace.

Rather than trying to chase each new advance, it is probably best to encourage children to build an strong understanding of foundational subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, reading, writing, speaking, and creative problem solving. This way they will have the building blocks to adapt whether computer science is electrical, biological, chemical, or some blend.

Strange as it may seem, basic is better when the pace of technological change accelerates.

Can Big Data Change a Wicked School Truancy Problem?

Ed Surge – Tiffany Wycoff

“The Brightmoor neighborhood in the western edge of Detroit—ravaged by poverty and gang violence, riddled with abandoned homes and boarded-up schools, and lacking public transportation options—has no shortage of wicked problems that exasperate chronic absenteeism in its schools. In fact, there is only one high school, Detroit Community Schools, a charter school, left in the area after other district-run campuses were shut down or abandoned.” (more)

4 best practices for education data

E-School News – Laura Ascione

“Data can be immensely helpful to educators–but anyone who hopes to learn from data must know how to analyze and interpret it. Although the word “data” can raise red flags when it comes to protecting student privacy and sensitive information, it can help students, parents, teachers, and administrators learn from and adjust practices. The catch, though, is that these stakeholder groups need access to the education data and must be able understand what it means.”(more)

Report: Data science and analytics skills critical for today’s workforce

Education Dive – Autumn A. Arnett

“One of the strongest arguments for a liberal arts education is that it exposes students to a variety of coursework that helps develop soft skills and prepare more well-rounded graduates who will then enter the workforce more agile and prepared for the demands of the workplace. However, a push towards specialization, competency-based education and the overall condensing of the higher education experience in the name of promoting four-year graduation for affordability’s sake has compromised some of this development. There has been a shift from seeing higher education as a vehicle to create well-rounded citizens to now a need to create workers, but the two do not have to be mutually-exclusive.”(more)

The Higher Ed Learning Revolution: Tracking Each Student’s Every Move

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“On campuses today almost every educational interaction leaves digital traces. Assignments and feedback are given through online portals; debates and discussions happen via learning management systems as well as in classrooms, cafes and dorm rooms. Those and other digital crumbs give technologists the opportunities to examine the processes, practices and goals of higher education in ways that were largely impossible a decade or so ago. We’ve reported here and here on Stanford physics Noble Laureate Carl Wieman’s “active learning” revolution.”(more)

K-12 data is failing students-here’s what education could look like

E-School News – Laura Devaney

U.S. education is not effectively leveraging data to increase student performance and close achievement gaps in the same way other sectors have used data to improve work processes, according to a new report from the Center for Data Innovation. And while many have lamented education’s slow adoption of data-driven practices, there may be a hidden bonus to slow progress.”(more)