by Becky Palmer-Scott
It’s no surprise that there is a lot of opportunity for employment in the computer science (CS) field. Last year there were more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs across the United States that went unfilled. The White House estimates that by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs will be in CS-related fields.
We need to make sure that all students have equitable access to computer science education, to ensure that everyone gets a chance to succeed and that new software serves diverse needs. See this excellent video about equity in computer science.
In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama said, “We have to make sure all kids are equipped for the jobs of the future — which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy. In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill — it’s a basic skill, right along with the three ‘Rs.”
Since President Obama’s call to action in January 2016, strong momentum for CS education has grown in government and the private sector. This includes:
- More than $25 million in new grants awarded from the National Science Foundation to support CS education
- A new CSforAll Consortium of more than 180 organizations. to connect stakeholders with curriculum and resources, as well as track progress toward the goal of Computer Science for All, and
- New commitments from more than 200 organizations, including the Girl Scouts, Code.org and Head Start, to reach more a more diverse student body, provide professional development for teachers, and host family coding nights in diverse settings.
So what can you do?
- Introduce coding to your students today. Go to code.org/learn and/or sign up to participate in Hour of Code. The Hour of Code website and its sponsor code.org both offer free beginning coding lessons for students of all ages. The lessons and their accompanying videos have high production value, encourage diversity in programming, and draw on popular culture, such as Star Wars, Minecraft, and Disney’s Frozen.
- Find a local resource to help you. Enter your location at code.org/volunteer/local to see local volunteers who will talk to your students. In addition, CSForAll.org has compiled a list of colleges who have CS department chairs committed to supporting CS in your school.
- Learn how to teach coding through professional development. You can get free teacher guides, classroom materials, and training from code.org. code.org/educate, csedweek.org, and The Microsoft Educator Community.
- Encourage girls to code. For ideas, check out aspirations.org, sponsored by NCWIT (National Center for Women in Information Technology).
- For students with special needs/disabilities, check out
- Download a CS curriculum framework. k12cs.org has a free downloadable K-12 computer science framework, along with tips on how to get it implemented.
- Look for grant opportunities. Grants are available from the Office of Innovation & Improvement, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Corporation for National & Community Service, as well as from CSForAll.org members.
- Keep connecting with other CS stakeholders. Sign up at CSForAll.org, then check out other CSForAll members at CSForAll.org/members to see other content providers, education associations, and funders.