The Struggle for Computer Science

Being computer literate and understanding how computers actually function are two different things. Many students take basic computer courses to learn how to use different kinds of software, but computer science classes are for people who want to learn to develop software, create apps, design websites and learn about database systems. While the number of students who want to learn to code and develop numerical analysis programs is increasing, these students are coming to college unprepared for the kind of math and science skills they need.

Developing Students Who Want to Learn About Technology

Despite the fact that people live with technology every day, few people understand how it works. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022 there will be 1.3 million new computer science jobs. There is no denying that technology in the classroom will continue to grow.

Teachers need to start encouraging students to engage in technological interests as early as possible. But teachers cannot stop there because most people consider computer science a boring, male-dominated, nerdy field. There are not many students who aspire to those characteristics, so they avoid computer science classes.

Schools are working hard to overcome this perception by starting coding classes in elementary school. Coding is beginning to get good press, and it may be a good transitional course for a fledgling interest in computer science.

Hiring Qualified Teachers

Part of the reason for a shortage of computer science coursework is the shortage of qualified teachers. People who understand the computer science industry often take higher-paying jobs in the technology field. Self-taught learners end up as the only sources of tech knowledge in the classroom.

Attracting More Students

There are long-term changes that can bring more computer science to schools:

  • Increased professional development for teachers.
  • More career education for students and families interested in technology jobs.
  • Introducing online computer science classes.
  • Giving students computer science mentors.
  • Making coding classes available.

Becoming Coding Experts

In order to encourage students who want computer science classes, teachers can become coding experts so they can integrate technology into students’ daily experience. There are many coding lesson plans and programs available for free, so this does not have to be an expensive venture — nor does it need to be time-consuming. Teachers can allot thirty minutes a week or ten minutes a day for coding time and still make a successful program.

The idea is to use technology in the classroom to show kids how to develop programs that tell a computer what to do. This kind of technology is sure to engage children, and interest breeds learning. The best way to make sure coding is a success is to rally support for teachers and students. This will require good communication and a consistent message.

Dealing With Constantly Changing Technology

One of the challenges schools and colleges face is that technology keeps changing. If courses offer content in specific software or hardware and that technology becomes obsolete the next year, a gap forms between course offerings and what students need.

One of the ways around this is to offer software developing courses that do not focus on one kind software but rather on different categories of applications. In this way, students can gather foundational knowledge without needing specific software.

Making Computer Science Classes More Inviting

Colleges are working to make their introductory courses more engaging. They want to attract more women and minority students who traditionally have not considered the field. One of the primary changes is to show how collaborative and social computer science really is. When educators share their enthusiasm and excitement for the computer science field, students may find it contagious.

Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership online.


Sources:

Edutopia: Computer Science: The Future of Education

The Conversation: Explainer: What It Will Take to Make Computer Science Education Available in All Schools

Edutopia: 3 Steps to Becoming a Coding Teacher

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Projections to 2022


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