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This afternoon I listened to the recording of our third colloquium speaker, Rebecca Vivian, from Adelaide University, since I had missed the event due to a year 5 school camp. The conversation focused on computer science. It was interesting and an eye-opening account on different levels.  Rebecca first asked my colleagues for their thoughts on ‘what is computer science?’. It really is amazing, that it is an area where we are still challenged with such stereotypical images. Rebecca connected the dots. CS does not stand alone, but rather is a transdisciplinary field that extends across all careers, combining with art, fashion, business, medicine, conservation, healthcare, security, music, gaming, education et al. Yet, surprisingly only 16% of college/university students are choosing ITC or engineering pathways, when CS has already been mooted as one of the career sectors that will be one of the necessary sectors which will experience a shortfall.

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Rebecca posed both the questions and challenges that CS + Education need to address. They are many, extending from how to engage young females, other …..students, parents, teachers and community to promote and connect with CS?  How to change the culture and broaden the curriculum so students are interested, engaged and motivated to follow computer science? What are the solutions to train teachers and provide classroom support within a scaleable way?

Professional development continues to be a contentious issue. In order to attend to this area, the research team adopted Lloyd and Cochrane’s model. Teachers have advocated for sustained learning (over time), and not just ‘once off’ PD. They need both the practice and theory, and to apply and reflect on what they have learned, which is clearly demonstrated in the Lloyd & Cochrane model.

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The research team have created a MOOC, partnered with Google, which provides free online learning based on a community model. To date over 3000 resources linked to the Australian curriculum have been shared by educators, with over 5500 teachers enrolled in the course. The project continues to expand to incorporate face to face learning opportunities in order to boost engagement and provide ‘hands on learning’ opportunities. A project officer is to be appointed in each Australian state to provide these opportunities. The project has also initiated a national lending library so schools who may not have access to equipment and digital technologies can trial them (as well as access other print resources).

I will be looking further into other resources that Rebecca mentioned during the colloquium, such as the Piazza.com which is a tool to help students learn using the power of community.  Pedagogy was also discussed – we need to move away from traditional practice and lecture format to incorporate pedagogical practice as pair programming, active learning, design thinking and computational thinking skills, collaborative learning and teamwork and self-regulated learning. As well as following up on resources that were recommended by my colleagues who participated in the colloquium – as always, part of my communities of practice, where my own ideas and thought processes are extended by their conversations and questions!

I am especially interested in the Teamwork Analytics that has been developed as part of the ongoing research. The analytics allows researchers to track a collaborative group, as well as the progression of their feelings and emotions, as they move through their inquiries. I would love to be able to use this for my case study!

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Perhaps one of the most significant points Rebecca made was the necessity to enable teachers to look at their role, as no longer the knowledge producer and ‘sage on the stage’, but to become the facilitator. Stepping back, and empowering students to be creative and solve their own problems.

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RIP Seymour Papert

Resources:

Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies Curriculum  

https://csdigitaltech.appspot.com/course

The Water Cooler

CSER Digital Technologies Education

Further reading (recommended by Rebecca Vivian):

Frieze, C & Quesenberry, J. (2016). Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University, Dog Ear Publishing: Indianapolis.

Vivian, R. (2015). A Look at IT and Engineering Enrollments in Australia, Available at: https://blogs.adelaide.edu.au/cser/2015/07/03/a-look-at-it-and-engineering-enrolments-in-australia/

Australian Government (2013). ICT workforce study: Meeting Australia’s future ICT skills needs, Available at: https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/ict-workforce-study-key-messages-web-2013.pdf

Papert, S. (1993). Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas. The Perseus Book Group: New York.

Liben, L. & Coyle, E. (2014). Developmental Interventions to Address the STEM Gender Gap: Exploring Intended and Unintended Consequences, Advances in Child Development and Behavior, vol. 47,  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065240714000111

WiPSCE 2016 – Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education, http://www.wipsce.org/2016/index.php

Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), Available at: http://toce.acm.org/

Journal of Computer Science Education, Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ncse20/current#.V6KrHZN95Bw

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