Handing out iPads to students isn’t enough

Schools need to focus on what makes computers work, not just on how to use them.

By Jane Margolis and Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco
Student gets help as she and her teacher explore the possibilities with their new LAUSD-provided iPads.

Student gets help as she and her teacher explore the possibilities with their new LAUSD-provided iPads. (Los Angeles Times / August 27, 2013)

Computer science is driving innovation across all fields, so it makes sense that the Los Angeles Board of Education wants to provide its students with access to the latest technology. Students who develop expertise in computer science will have automatic career advantages. But is the district taking the right steps?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that computing occupations are among the fastest-growing job categories in the United States and that such jobs pay about 75% more than the national median annual salary. Unfortunately, only a narrow band of students — predominantly white and Asian males — is developing the necessary skills to step into these high-paying jobs in computer science. Latinos, African Americans and girls of all ethnic backgrounds are being left behind. In 2013, 29,555 students took the Advanced Placement computer science exam, but only 18% were female, 4% African American and 3% Mexican American.
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With shortage of computer science classes, students in Bell code after school

by Annie Gilbertson, Southern California Public Radio

Students coding

These Bell High School students meet after school twice a week to practice basic coding and cyber security. The high school canceled it Computer Science course this year. (Annie Gilbertson, KPCC)

CyberPatriot is possibly the geekiest high school club in history. Sponsored by the Air Force Association, a dozen teens from the city of Bell meet after school to learn to code.

Like most of the club members, senior Erika Aguiluz aspires to become a computer scientist. Aguiluz said if it weren’t for the couple of hours she’s spent coding after school, she may not have considered the career.

“You grow up in your community: you are kind of blinded to the whole world,” said Aguiluz. “For all you know, there could be green people out there.”

Half of this group is young women and everyone is Latino – faces rarely seen in a high tech world dominated by white and Asian men.
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Want To Get Girls And Minorities Into Coding? Stop Making Computer Science An Elective

By Jessica Leber, FastCo.Exist

White males are most likely to take computer science classes in high school because they have mostly white male role models to look up to. Maybe it’s time to start giving incentives for everyone to take the subject.

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[Image: Schoolgirls via Shutterstock]

With this week’s star-studded “Hour of Code” and Computer Science Education Week, hundreds of thousands of schools around the country are introducing children to computer science and working to get them interested in a field that is almost guaranteed to be in high demand when they hit the job market.

But there’s just one snag: Computer science may not help them graduate high school and or even help them meet the minimum requirements established to attend public colleges and universities in tech-centric states like California. Neither a core math or science subject officially, computer science falls in an awkward middle ground that has kept it an “elective” at the high school level in most states.
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Hundreds of Teens Attend Computer Science Education Day at Cal

By Theresa Harrington, Contra Costa Times (CA)

BERKELEY — Hundreds of high school students from throughout the Bay Area got firsthand practice programming computers during UC Berkeley’s annual Computer Science Education Day on Tuesday, and just maybe, they’ll be inspired to major in computer science.

CAL COMPUTER SCIENCE DAY/METRO

(Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

“We are a new generation and we all use computers for basically everything,” said Brandon Ye, a 16-year-old junior at California High in San Ramon, after learning the Snap visual, drag-and-drop programming language. “This could give us a new understanding. Like, when you post something on Facebook, why does it show up like that? It feels empowering.”
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Technology training key to innovation

By Debra J. Richardson and Julie Flapan, Orange County Register

Have you ever seen a toddler with a smartphone swiping their little fingers across the screen as if they were born knowing exactly how to use it? Or heard a teenager’s quip: “There’s an app for that”? As these cyber-native kids mature, they will require far less instruction on how to use technology and more education that prepares them to be the creators of it.

Computers are everywhere – in our pockets, on our TV screens, in our cars, in the movies. They’re a critical piece of our infrastructure from power grids to financial markets. And all of these computers have one thing in common: they depend on software to tell them what to do.

But who is writing this software and who is creating new technologies?

Considering how fast our world is being transformed by technology, you might expect the number of students studying computer science in K-12 education today to be at an all time high. That is not the case. Fewer students are studying computer science, and fewer schools are teaching it, than a decade ago. The problem begins in our middle and high schools. Last year in Orange County, Advanced Placement Computer Science was offered at only 15 of 69 public high schools.
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UCLA, Code.org, LAUSD, and SiliconBeachLA Kick Off “Hour of Code” in Los Angeles

By Kathy Wyer, Ampersand

Key Los Angeles stakeholders come together
in support of computer science education
to prepare students for 21st Century job market.

UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the nonprofit Code.org collectively launched the Los Angeles segment of National Computer Science Education Week at the UCLA Community School on Dec. 10 at the Paul Schrade Library at UCLA Community School, with local and state lawmakers, and industry leaders from Microsoft, Apple, Google and other Los Angeles–based technology companies in attendance.

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GSE&IS Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco watches UCLA Community Students as they learn to code.

GSE&IS Dean Marcelo Súarez-Orozco kicked off the event, with speakers Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, senior policy advisor and director of education and workforce development for the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti; California Assemblyman Ed Chau (49th Dist.), Gerardo Loera, executive director of curriculum and instruction for LAUSD; Jane Margolis, senior researcher at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies; author of “Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing,” and James Gwertzman, chief evangelist at Code.org.
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