♦ “Computer Science is not Digital Literacy” →

A follow-up piece to the previous link, which argues for digital literacy over coding skills:

> Digital literacy means the the skills and confidence to take an active role in engaging in networks, and in shaping and creating opportunities – social, political, cultural, civic, and economic, and we shouldn’t be collapsing these broader rights into the relatively narrow concerns of computing science as a curriculum area.

Article via [Fraser Speirs](http://fraserspeirs.com). Mildly surprising, to me at least, is his strong support for the argument raised in the link article, given that he’s a programmer and Computer Science teacher. This [piece of his](http://speirs.org/blog/2011/12/29/three-mantras-from-the-first-two-years.html) on “technology for subjects not traditionally well-served by technology” may serve to explain why, but I’m still trying to digest all of this.

♦ BBC: ICT to be replaced by CS in schools →

From September, England’s schools will offer computer science classes instead of ICT (a.k.a. IT ‘skills’ such as PowerPoint and Excel):

> The current programme of information and communications technology (ICT) study in England’s schools will be scrapped from September, the education secretary will announce later.
>
> The subject will be replaced by compulsory lessons in more rigorous computer science and programming.

Not sure how they’ll start this up so quickly, given this glaring problem:

> “There are, of course, significant challenges to overcome, specifically with the immediate shortage of computer science teachers.”

See also [this Guardian article](http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/09/computer-studies-in-schools): “Out of 28,000 teachers who qualified in 2010, just three individuals had a computer-related degree.” Similarly the case here, although the return of A-level Computing should imply that [NIE](http://www.nie.edu.sg) will be doing something about training CS teachers.

I’m still on the fence about whether CS absolutely needs to be taught at a pre-tertiary level. There was some interesting discussion on this recently between a couple of Mac developers — see [this blog post by Guy English](http://kickingbear.com/blog/archives/272) on “Scripting is the New Literacy”, a response to [this piece by Daniel Jalkut](http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/2298/learn-to-code) encouraging everyone to “Learn to Code”.

(News via [Matt Johnston](https://twitter.com/cimota).)

♦ Codecademy Labs →

In-browser runtimes for Ruby, Python and JavaScript, by the same folks who are bringing us [browser-based programming courses](http://www.codecademy.com/courses).

Looks perfect for intro programming, albeit only on the console. Looking forward to see how it deals with exercises that are more graphical, and those which make use of external libraries.

♦ Computer Science education in the UK →

Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC argues that Computer Science education sorely needs improvement in the UK, in order to boost the country’s waning video game industry. (That’s where Tomb Raider, Fable and Grand Theft Auto originated.)

An interesting point:

> Somehow the classroom got hijacked by ICT. And that is learning about Powerpoint, Word, Excel – useful but boring after more than a week of learning it.

There isn’t a direct Singaporean equivalent of the UK ICT curriculum, but we do have the [MOE IT Masterplan for ICT in Education](http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2008/08/moe-launches-third-masterplan.php), with the [BY(i)TES score](http://cl.ly/CoRO) (3.0!) as a metric. Our requirements look a little broader than the UK’s, and cover educational technology usage in the classroom as well as “ICT leadership” (whatever that means). However, none of this says anything about delivering any “actual” Computer Science education in the classroom, which feels like a pity.

I’m still wondering what the US is doing differently that’s resulted in a [resurgence in CS education](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/11/technology/11computing.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all) — has all this been driven entirely by the very public successes of Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies?

♦ Codecademy →

Codecademy teaches JavaScript programming through the browser: follow instructions, type in code, move on to the next step. This is similar to the (slightly more amusing) [Rails for Zombies](http://railsforzombies.com/).

Browser-based code classes look promising for classroom teachers: there’s no need to install compilers or even text editors, making this environment much easier to set up in a lab. Students can also continue their work easily at home, with (some level of) instant feedback from the built-in help system.

The associated [Hacker News post](http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2901156) has some interesting suggestions, and the comments from non-programmers about the course’s difficulty can be quite enlightening to anyone trying to teach a programming course.