UK: Compulsory programming from age 5

What’s changing?

The UK government has overhauled the way it teaches computing to children by adding mandatory programming classes.

Why is this special?
The UK is the first G20 nation to put computer science at the heart of its curriculum.

Why are they doing it?
The country is projected to have a shortage of 249,000 workers for technologically skilled jobs by 2020.

Will it work?
When kids reach 14, it will be up to them to choose whether to continue studying the subject.

We (NZ) don’t even have compulsory computing at Year 9! I suspect that our relative skills shortage will be just as great as that of the UK. I recall having my last year at University paid for by the NZ Government – to complete a Computer Science degree. We has a skills shortage even back in the 1980’s. Deja Vu. 

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Doctor Who club

Doctor Who is popular at WEGC. There appears to be a correlation between DT students and Doctor Who club membership. Maybe there is some merit in using science fiction to teach computer science – as this article suggests. The Doctor Who club communicate via a public  Facebook page . Feel free to have a look. Note the tardis dress.

I decided to attend the latest meeting and ended up in the annual picture.

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Killer Whale Flash file

 

A little source of amusement… sent to me by a student.

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N4L managed network YEAH RIGHT

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WEGC recently switched from the Loop to N4L . The Loop may not have been perfect but I cannot recall having very poor performance for 24 hours+ (2 minutes to load stuff.co.nz). This is totally unacceptable in my view. Can we get serious about having robust broadband to schools. We are rapidly moving to an environment of BYOD, meaning if the network goes down then “the learning” goes down also.

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Hour of Code

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I asked my Year 10 students to undertake the “Hour of Code” tutorial for Beginners. Not that they are beginners, they have been using Scratch the last few weeks. But it did serve three advantages:

  1. They got to have  a break from Scratch.
  2. They got to experience a slightly different programming “language” Google Blockly
  3. With the review code option they got to see the Javascript code generated from Blockly.

And it was quite fun. A few of the students even printed of the Completion certificate. I have sent the link to my wife to try it out in a Primary school perhaps they can undertake the formal Hour of Code scheduled for December 2014.

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THINK

photo (22)Seen at the Computer History Museum in San Francisco. This slogan represented the IBM culture of THINK first espoused in 1911 by Thomas J Watson. Not terribly different from what we would like our students to do today!

 

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Judging IITP Excellence Awards

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I had the privilege of being one of three judges for  the Education category of the IITP Excellence Awards. There were three outstanding finalists but unfortunately only one could win. The winner was Tim Bell a key player in the development and promulgation of computer science resources nationally and internationally. I will be attending one of his sessions CS4HS in Christchurch in December this year. A great opportunity to learn from the master.

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