Computing in Schools- A Call for Action from Informatics Societies
1. Computing in Schools: What is at Stake
As ICT increasingly pervades society and the economy, the demand for IT personnel is growing fast, outpacing the current supply of qualified professionals and producing chronic shortages in the computing industry. The low numbers of students choosing computing as a career is exacerbating the situation.
Immediate action is needed to better integrate Computer Science in the school system and change the perception of computing among young people.
- Students: Children and young people now use computers, smart phones and tablets every day to communicate with their peers, play music, access information and media. However, they are rarely encouraged to understand the basic principles upon which this global phenomenon of personal devices is based. Where computing is indicated as a separate subject on the curriculum, it often focuses on the necessary user-level skills often through programmes such as ECDL.
Students need digital literacy and digital competence to equip them with the skills they need for a technology-enabled workforce, where an estimated 90% of jobs require such skills. However to encourage more students towards computing as an option that is seen as a dynamic and challenging career, even in the current crisis, an introduction into computational thinking should also be provided. The adoption of a more holistic approach should be encouraged in which digital literacy skills, and those that make up Computer Science, such as programming, are delivered in a complementary fashion.
- Teachers: The proliferation of games and social media has motivated the young to become familiar with the use of technology. As a result students are perceived as more proficient in the use of devices and teachers are embarrassed by their lack of expertise in the field. Many do not even use the technology available as a teaching tool. Very few have any formal education in computing since teacher training does not normally require any fundamental knowledge of computational thinking.
Consequently most teachers are ill-equipped to encourage students to understand the fundamentals of hardware and software. They have little perception of the nature of work that is carried out in companies which are significant users of computing, and most have almost no understanding of the work in companies which design or build computer hardware or software.