The first time I visited a computer science (CS) classroom, I watched a group of second graders race across the room in a sorting network. “We’re thinking like a computer,” one student explained. “It’s like when we do a project as a group and work on different parts at the same time, we can finish faster than if we had to work alone.”
For this student and other digital natives like her, CS is not just a discipline, it’s a way to understand the world and a foundational skill, no matter what field they choose to pursue.
Over the past several years, many educators from around the world have engaged in computing activities with students and worked to embed CS across the curriculum. We know there’s a strong economic imperative to prepare the next generation of CS-literate students – a labor market opportunity to the tune of $1 billion. But CS is about more than high-paying jobs for students. It’s about giving them the tools to create their futures and find meaning in the world around them. It’s recognizing that we’ll solve some of the biggest challenges we face using code, and we need everyone to contribute to those solutions.
We commend the efforts undertaken by countless organizations and individuals to advocate for CS as an integral part of K-12 education and educator practice long before CS education held the spotlight it does today. Still, more needs to be done to give educators tools to bring high-quality CS learning to students around the globe and to design new systems with equity at the core, not as an afterthought.
Throughout 2018, ISTE will update the ISTE Standards for Computer Science Educators. This process is an opportunity for thought leaders in CS education and educators at all levels to develop the next generation of computing education standards and define a new paradigm for problem-solving in K-12. This refresh comes at a time when we recognize that if CS must be an integral piece of students’ educational experience, it must also be a critical component of educator practice. The new standards will serve the field by establishing a vision for what educators need to effectively teach CS to all students, and will also guide professional learning for all educators.
Through July, we’ll be sharing ways you can add your voice to the standards, including participating in refresh events, surveys and digital storytelling efforts. We’re looking to you to share actionable steps for putting the standards into practice. This is an opportunity for all of us – educators new to CS and veteran CS teachers alike – to set a vision for how CS can empower students to develop persistence and become collaborative learners.
Lend your voice to the refresh of the Standards for Computer Science Educators, keeping in mind that we’re not designing these standards for today, but for the competencies that will be needed in the future. So weigh in. Get involved. And share your vision at iste.org/CSRefresh.
Octavia Abell is leading ISTE's refresh of the Standards for Computer Science Educators.