An extract from our latest e-book: Computer Science in the National Curriculum.
These are exciting times for Computer Science Education. In Great Britain, the US and an increasing number of other countries, we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in developing pupils’ understanding of how computers work, how they’re programmed and the fundamental ideas underpinning computation. The work of Computing at School in the UK,the code.org campaign and the number of universities offering Computing for non-specialists courses in the US, great on-line resources for learning about Computer Science (CS), such as the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and some brilliant programming tool-kits that make it easier than ever for users to take control of their computers have all played their role in this. There are several reasons why this trend should be welcomed:
There’s an economic argument, at both national and individual level more programmers in the workforce makes it easier for technology companies to recruit locally; it might mean more tech-based start-ups and might also improve the chance of managers making sound decisions when it comes to technology. At an individual level, a grasp of coding opens up pathways to further academic and vocational study as well as career options in, and beyond, the IT industry: it’s certainly not just programming jobs where the ability to program is useful. The demand for those with a sound grasp of current IT systems and programming languages, acquired through academic courses, apprenticeships and courses leading to industry certification seems to be ever increasing, with many positions unfilled due to a lack of training and certification. There’s an opportunity here for the education system to teach more relevant and job-related skills.
There’s also an argument around empowerment: ‘program or be programmed’ as Douglas Rushkoff memorably puts it. Given the role that digital technology already plays in our lives and society, those who understand how computers works, and who can program computers themselves, almost inevitably enjoy greater autonomy and can be more active, and indeed critical, participants in an increasingly digital society.
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