Thursday, January 18, 2018

Time for Tech Leadership

In reading on Twitter and in the ACSE email discussion group, I am starting to see a pattern. Over the past five years I have seen this several times, a round of observations and comments on:
·      Not enough young women in technology,
·      Not enough computer science teachers in Ontario,
·      Most teachers’ colleges are no longer training CS teachers,
·      Teacher candidates are not choosing CS as a teachable.
Meanwhile (dates and numbers on employee shortages seem to vary a bit), by 2019 or 2020, there will be 180,000 or 200,000 technology jobs going unfilled in Canada due to a lack of qualified workers. Not to mention many times that south of the border.
In my job, I am in many different schools. So, my comments are really just based on our board. But I imagine they apply to other locations in Ontario.
·      In perhaps half of our schools, classes will participate in Hour of Code as a one-time event.
·      A handful of teachers are integrating coding by participating in The Learning Partnership’s Coding Trek and Coding Quest.
·      A number of schools and local community groups are involved with First Lego League, but fewer than half.
·      Most teachers are not confident in bringing coding into their programs.
·      In terms of pedagogical discussion, most teachers have not had any training in coding and/or computational thinking and/or curriculum integration.
·      Most would not be aware of existing Ministry or third-party resources.
I believe our small educational technology team (TELTs and DeLC) have been very pro-active, responding to requests and enthusiastically promoting opportunities as they arise.
However, it troubles me that in Ontario in 2018:
·      A student’s access to this learning is unstructured and completely related to the private/personal initiative of specific teachers (or schools or boards).
·      There is no continuum of study for students who wish to grow over the course of 12 years in our schools.
·      Third party providers are doing the vast majority of training, at the request or initiative of specific teachers, schools or boards (eg. Fair Choice, The Learning Partnership, First Lego, Logics Academy).
·      The ministry of education has some resources but they are not widely known.

Personally, I think it is time to see these skills embedded in a systemic way in our provincial education world.

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