utes long. It is wonderful that there are
so many great things going on in computing education! It is challenging to
stay focused for so many reports! (Lisa
Kaczmarczyk does a better job of describing these first-day reports at her
blog post at http://bit.ly/1vHt6EU.)
One of the more interesting reports
for me was Owen Astrachan’s update
on the effort to create the new Advanced Placement course and exam
in Computer Science Principles.
The framework for the new course
is available at http://apcsprinciples.
org. The exam is being defined, with
performance tasks that students will
undertake in pairs to demonstrate
their knowledge. Astrachan also talked about the CS10K effort to develop
10,000 computer science teachers in
10,000 high schools in the U.S. One
of the challenges of CS10K is providing professional learning opportunities for so many prospective teachers.
Two groups tried MOOCs, both 4–5
weeks long, this summer.
˲ In one effort, 1,000 teachers signed
up, 500 were active, and 50 finished.
˲ In another effort, 700 registered, 60
took the final exam, and about 40 completed everything.
Completion does matter when we
are talking about teachers and curriculum—every teacher must know
and be able to teach all the parts of
the curriculum. These results do not
say to me that we cannot use distance
education to offer teachers opportunities to learn CS, but they do suggest
the current models are not going to
reach enough teachers to help with
the CS10K goal. We may need different models that attract and engage
more teachers to completion.
We held breakout groups to talk
about the pressing issues on comput-
ing education and what the ACM Edu-
cation Council might do about them.
I was in a group on improving diver-
sity in computing. We have increasing
evidence that people are choosing not
to go into computing because of the
culture in technology (see the gamer-
gate story at http://bit.ly/1yUWjyJ).
The problem of an insensitive culture
is not just in schools (see the list of
things that women in the tech indus-
try are tired of hearing, at http://bzfd.
it/1s2HyRy). Could the ACM Educa-
tion Council help to shine a light on
this problem? We have formed a task
force to address this question.
I was on a panel on Computing Ed-
ucation Research (CER), asking “How
can ACM better promote the role of
computing education research and
grow the community?” My co-panel-
ists were Jan Cuny, Josh Tenenberg,
and Heikki Topi, with Jane Prey as
moderator. The panel was fascinat-
ing. Cuny laid out the challenges of
needing to know more about learning
and teaching in computing, without
any doctorate programs helping us
do that research. Tenenberg gave an
overview of where CER is today, and
Topi talked about CER across the vari-
ations of computing: CS, IS, and IT.
I compared CER to engineering edu-
cation research (which has far fewer
international collaborations and lab-
oratory studies than CER) and phys-
ics education research (which has
surprisingly little work in broadening
participation, despite having almost
as bad a gender skew).
In response to our panel, two
members of the Council said they
saw the hot research question in
CER as: “If we teach conditionals to
grade school kids, what do we teach
them in high school, and what new
things do we teach in undergradu-
ate?” I agree that is a research ques-
tion, but it is not really hot. The top
undergraduate schools might face
it sooner, but it is not really going
to be a problem for decades yet (see
my prediction about being 100 years
behind at http://bit.ly/1kF6O1u). The
problem is that we are nowhere near
saturation (in the U.S., less than 10%
of high schools have computer sci-
ence teachers), and most of what we
are doing is not going to work. Our
best guess is only about 70% of stu-
dents in undergraduate CS (http://
bit.ly/1CQ98Yy) are learning what we
want in the first course—and that is
teaching students with an interest in
CS who were admitted into college.
We know far less about teaching pri-
mary and secondary school students
(with a much wider range of cognitive
abilities), and we are certainly reach-
ing our learning objectives with less
than half of them. We have a long way
to go before we face the problem of
most of our entering college students
knowing too much CS.
At the end of the meeting, the
Education Council came up with the
list of action items for the next year.
Plans were started to provide a work-
shop in India about ACM standard
curricula, and to develop curriculum
guidelines about data science and
about cybersecurity. CSTA asked for
a landscape study of K– 12 CS educa-
tion. Alison Clear of New Zealand is
leading the development of an inter-
national taxonomy of computing ed-
ucation terms to help with worldwide
ACM Education Council meetings
are exhausting. There are so many reports, and plans, and strategizing in
just a day and a half. They are expensive meetings to host, to bring in education leaders from around the world.
But they are important to share initiatives and results, and to promote
computing education under the banner of the world’s largest professional
organization in computing.
Mark Guzdial is a professor at the Georgia Institute of
© 2014 ACM 0001-0782/14/12 $15.00
we are talking
needs to know
and be able
to teach all
the parts of