Friday, May 2, 2014

Making the Technologies Curriculum Attractive to Australian Students

At the "Byte Sized Digital Technologies", workshop James Curran from University of Sydney, suggested the new "Australian Curriculum: Technologies" was an opportunity to make computing in schools attractive to more students, particularly girls. As well not being popular with the students, universities do not have it as a prerequisite (unlike maths). One issue was how immature a discipline computing is, with the essentials not having been distilled into something to teach.

However, I suggest that there have been some attempts to distil what computing is, both as a discipline and as a essential set of skills. Examples are the bodies of knowledge of the ACS, ACM/IEEE and the European Computer Driving Licence.

James pointed out that there is less involvement by practitioners in professional associations and the members are getting older. Also he pointed out the minimal budget provided education departments for teachers. He criticised education department for leaving most teacher professional development to teacher's associations, but this seemed to me a positive. If teachers claim to be professionals, then they must take responsibility for their own professional development. Even if their employer does not provide resources, the professional has to ensure they keep their stills up (at their own expense).

James proposes a two day workshop for teachers followed by online PD. In my view this is the wrong approach, instead this should be "flipped" with the online PD first, followed by optional face-to-face workshop, if the resources allow. James aims for a $22M budget, which seems unrealistic. A lower cost online course would be much more achievable.

The ACS provides PD events for its members. Also the obvious way to do PD for technology is online with technology.

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