Chapter 1—Introduction

Report
Designing a Modern Computing
Curriculum for Bermuda
Eric Roberts
Professor of Computer Science
Stanford University
Reed College Mathematics Colloquium
April 3, 2008
Outline
1. Setting the context: Why precollege education is important
2. Overview of the Bermuda Project
3. The successes of the project
4. Implications for education in the United States
Outline
1. Setting the context: Why precollege education is important
2. Overview of the Bermuda Project
3. The successes of the project
4. Implications for education in the United States
The Crisis in Computing Education
That there is currently a crisis in computing education is not in doubt.
— McGettrick et al., SIGCSE 2007
• Computing enrollments in the United States and most of
Europe have plummeted since 2001.
The Pipeline Problem in Computer Science
Although there are indications that the decline has bottomed out,
the number of computer science majors at research universities
has fallen by almost 50 percent since its peak in 2000.
Source: Computing Research Association, Taulbee Study, 2008
The Crisis in Computing Education
That there is currently a crisis in computing education is not in doubt.
— McGettrick et al., SIGCSE 2007
• Computing enrollments in the United States and most of
Europe have plummeted since 2001.
• This drop is of significant economic concern because those
same countries are training far fewer people than they need to
fill the available positions. In the United States, there are now
many more jobs in the IT sector than there were at the height
of the dot-com boom, with all projections pointing toward
continued growth.
Degree Production vs. Job Openings
160,000
140,000
120,000
100,000
Ph.D.
Master’s
Bachelor’s
Projected job openings
80,000
60,000
40,000
20,000
Engineering
Physical Sciences
Biological Sciences
Computer Science
Sources: Adapted from a presentation by John Sargent, Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Commerce, at the
CRA Computing Research Summit, February 23, 2004. Original sources listed as National Science
Foundation/Division of Science Resources Statistics; degree data from Department of Education/National
Center for Education Statistics: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Completions Survey;
and NSF/SRS; Survey of Earned Doctorates; and Projected Annual Average Job Openings derived from
Department of Commerce (Office of Technology Policy) analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics 2002-2012
projections. See http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/content.php?cid=22.
The Crisis in Computing Education
That there is currently a crisis in computing education is not in doubt.
— McGettrick et al., SIGCSE 2007
• Computing enrollments in the United States and most of
Europe have plummeted since 2001.
• This drop is of significant economic concern because those
same countries are training far fewer people than they need to
fill the available positions. In the United States, there are now
many more jobs in the IT sector than there were at the height
of the dot-com boom, with all projections pointing toward
continued growth.
• The reasons behind the enrollment decline are complex and
highly interconnected. One of the most important factors,
however, lies in the widespread problems associated with
computer science education at the K-12 level.
The Problem Starts Early
The UCLA HERI study shows that students have already made
their decisions before they reach university.
Source: Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 2005
CS is Losing Ground
• The Computer Science exam is the only Advanced Placement
exam that has shown declining student numbers in recent years.
CS Is Tiny Compared with Other Sciences
Outline
1. Setting the context: Why precollege education is important
2. Overview of the Bermuda Project
3. The successes of the project
4. Implications for education in the United States
The Bermuda Project
In 1998, Stanford initiated a project to design a new computer
science curriculum for Bermuda’s public secondary schools.
Since that time, many people have worked on the Bermuda
Project, from both the Computer Science Department and the
School of Education.
Faculty: Eric Roberts (CS)
Brigid Barron (Education)
Project Director: Caitlin K. Martin
Students: Rob Baesman, Shireen Braithwaite, Caroline Clabaugh,
Karen Corby, Katherine Emery, Nicholas Fang, Tom
Fountain, Maria Fredricsson, Anita Garimella, Osvaldo
Jimenez, Marissa Mayer, Jennifer McGrath, Emma
Mercier, Alex Osipovich, Ann Pan, Kristin Pilner,
Michael Ross, Tenicia Sicard, Andrew Simons, Luke
Swartz, Shane Witnov
About Bermuda
• British overseas territory lying
600 miles east of North Carolina.
• Land area just over 20 square
miles (roughly one third the size
of Washington, DC).
• Total population of only 62,000
(roughly the size of Palo Alto)
with two public high schools:
Berkeley and Cedarbridge.
• Local parliament has had a Labor majority since 1998.
• Considerable national wealth, primarily from companies that
relocate to Bermuda as a tax haven.
• The CIA World Factbook lists Bermuda as having the highest
GDP per capita in the world.
Bermuda.edu
Bermuda.edu
The Bermuda.edu movie is not posted because of copyright restrictions.
Initial Goals
The Bermuda Project was funded by a public-private partnership
linking the Ministry of Education with several Bermuda-based
companies. The initiative was originally named the XL Education
Initiative after the principal corporate sponsor, but soon broadened
to become the B.TEC (Bermuda Technical Education) project.
The goals of the initiative were:
• Support the development of technological literacy
• Prepare all students for work or undergraduate study
• Develop a cadre of highly skilled students who are globally
competitive
Principles of the Bermuda Project
• Solid foundational knowledge. Computing literacy requires
much more than a working knowledge of a particular set of
tools. The computing industry is incredibly dynamic. Today’s
tools quickly become tomorrow’s antiques.
• Individual empowerment. Many students approach computing
with a strange mixture of fear and awe: technophobia coupled
with technoreverence. In our experience, the best way to
counter these psychological barriers is to concentrate on giving
each student a sense of individual empowerment, building their
confidence and efficacy along with their technical skills.
• Equality of access. The curriculum developed for Bermuda
must take into account the diversity of the student population to
ensure that all students have the same chance to succeed.
Fluency vs. Literacy
• The Bermuda Project adopted the
principles expressed in the 1999
“Fluency Report” from the National
Research Council.
• The Fluency Report draws a sharp
distinction between the traditional
notion of computer literacy and the
more advanced goal of fluency,
which encompasses algorithmic and
computational thinking as well as
basic computing skills.
• Adopting fluency as a goal meant
that the students in the project
would have greater flexibility and
independence in choosing career
paths.
Components of the Project
Curriculum
Professional
Development
Assessment
Stanford Curriculum
Introduction to Computing
Computer Science 1:
Multimedia 1:
Introduction to Programming
Visual Design
Computer Science 2:
Multimedia 2:
Intermediate Programming
Interaction Design
Multimedia 3:
Digital Filmmaking
The First Course
• Required of all students during
their first year of high school.
• Includes modules on:
–
–
–
–
–
–
Basic Skills
Computing History
Computer Hardware
Internet
Web Design
Computer Ethics
The First Programming Course
• Elective, usually taken in 2nd or
3rd year.
• Includes modules on:
– Introductory Programming
– Future of Computing
– Web Programming
• The introductory programming
module uses a Java version of
Karel the Robot.
• The web programming module
uses simple JavaScript.
The Intermediate Programming Course
• Elective, usually taken in 3rd or
4th year.
• Includes modules on:
–
–
–
–
–
Problem Solving
MiniJava Programming
Animation in MiniJava
Software Engineering
Object-Oriented Design
• The programming language is
MiniJava, a teaching-oriented
subset of Java I developed at
Stanford.
Professional Development
• Professional development must be
a central component of any project
that seeks to develop a computing
curriculum in schools, since few
teachers have the necessary skills.
• Professional development efforts
must be ongoing for two reasons:
– The field changes rapidly
– Some teachers will leave education
• We offered student-led workshops
for professional development both
at Stanford and in Bermuda.
The Bermuda Teaching Team
Karen Clemons
Raquel Rose-Green
Dean Foggo
Donna Swainson-Robinson
Reggie Harris
Eric Totten
Michael Reid
Nkenge Warren-Swan
Outline
1. Setting the context: Why precollege education is important
2. Overview of the Bermuda Project
3. The successes of the project
4. Implications for education in the United States
Assessment
We undertook several different assessment strategies to determine
the success of the project, including the following:
• Students were given pre- and post-tests in several classes to
assess levels of learning
• Students completed survey questionnaires to determine their
level of satisfaction, their interest in further computing courses,
and their eventual career plans.
• We conducted in-depth videotaped interviews with 38 students.
• An independent team from Boston University evaluated the
program and found it to be “excellent.”
• The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
evaluated and certified the curriculum in 2003, making it the
first ISTE-certified national curriculum in the world.
Interviews with Bermuda Students
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Proportion of students
Projections of Future Selves
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Images of Computing (U.S.)
In 1998, sixth-graders in selected California schools were asked to
draw their image of a computer professional. The drawings are
for the most part aligned with traditional stereotypes, as follows:
Images of Computing (Bermuda)
In Bermuda, the same exercise after the Stanford curriculum
reveals different perceptions:
Outline
1. Setting the context: Why precollege education is important
2. Overview of the Bermuda Project
3. Evaluating the success of the project
4. Implications for education in the United States
Could We Replicate the Curriculum in the U.S.?
It would be nice to think that it would be possible to replicate the
Bermuda computing curriculum in the United States. Stanford
was, in fact, contacted by the L.A. Unified School District to see if
we could do just that.
Unfortunately:
• The scale is wildly different.
Bermuda has two public high
schools; Los Angeles has 248.
• Despite the limited scale, the
Bermuda Project required a large
team, a substantial budget, and
considerable ongoing support.
• The Bermuda Project had support
from an impressive array of local
industries and from the highest
levels of government.
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Computing Faces Huge Challenges in Schools
• People who have software development skills command high salaries
and tend not to teach in schools.
• In many schools, computing courses are seen as vocational rather
than academic. The NCAA has eliminated academic credit for all
computing courses on this basis.
• Students who are heading toward top universities are advised to take
non-CS courses to bolster their admissions chances.
• Because schools are evaluated on how well their students perform in
math and science, many schools are shifting teachers away from
computer science toward these disciplines. Those disciplines,
moreover, actively oppose expanding high-school computer science.
• Administrators find tools like PowerPoint more sexy and exciting. J
• Computing skills in general—and programming in particular—have
become much harder to teach.
• Teachers have few resources to keep abreast of changes in the field.
The March of Progress
If I had had to learn C++, I would have majored in music.
1536 pages
—Don
Knuth, October 11, 2006
911 pages
266 pages
274 pages
The Pace of Change
• The pace of change—particularly in terms of its effect on the
languages, libraries, and tools on which introductory computer
science education depends—has increased in recent years.
• Individual universities and colleges can’t keep up.
• In a survey by the Computer Science Teachers Association,
secondary school teachers cited the rapid pace of change as the
most significant barrier.
ACM Initiatives
—founded in 2005
The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is a
membership organization that supports and promotes the
teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines.
It provides opportunities for K-12 teachers and students to
better understand the computing disciplines and to more
successfully prepare themselves to teach and to learn.
What We Need To Do
• Recognize that the problems extend well beyond the university.
• Press government and industry to improve computing education
at the K-12 level.
• Take creative steps to bolster both the image and the reality of
work in the profession.
• Emphasize the fact that programming remains essential to much
of the work in the field.
• Encourage research into new software paradigms that can bring
back the “passion, beauty, joy, and awe” that can make
programming fun again.
The End

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