Computer Science: Every Classroom, Every Age

January 31st, 2018


 

It was last October that I sat across from Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight and former UTC board member, as he shared his vision for Utah’s educational future. The goal: computer science offered in every classroom at every age.

As our economy changes, our education must change as well. Utah needs to invest in the digital future, to ensure that all our students have exposure to the skills desired in future workforces. Computer science is more than coding, it is creativity and innovation – problem solving through experience where the solutions are as unique as each individual student.

For more than 20 years, UTC has been dedicated to educating Utah’s future workforce to meet the growing demands of innovation economy. From STEM in k-12 to Engineering initiatives in our colleges and universities, UTC has brought together stakeholders in the private and public spheres to solve Utah’s problems. This is no different.

Thanks to our amazing partners at the State Board of Education, a task force has been created with the goal of ensuring access to every school in the state. Duties will include doing a gap analysis of the computer science offerings currently available and how rural areas can better provide access. It’s a heavy lift to meet this need, and one that we relish.

We want to thank the ongoing work of all those at the Utah State Board of Education, its board members, education professionals, and industry leaders as we continue to identify and solve the problems of tomorrow, today.

 

 

John Knotwell, President and CEO


One response to “Computer Science: Every Classroom, Every Age”

  1. I love the line “Computer science is more than coding, it is creativity and innovation – problem-solving through the experience where the solutions are as unique as each individual student.”

    My elaboration of this line goes as follows. Students must be taught to clearly describe their solution to other humans in precise technical English and math. Then they must be taught how to clearly describe their solution to computers (if they can teach a computer, they can teach anyone). This is not “coding” (as in verbose notations such as Java) but “executable problem description.”

    For the latter, they must be taught notations that are much closer to the problem than its solution. Functional-style programming languages are a time-proven way of doing this. In fact, this style is seeping even into C++, Scala, and languages that “go to work” – so not a wasted prototyping exercise.

    More precisely, students must be taught to code, albeit in higher level (functional-style) notations. This way their high-level solutions (not detailed code) can be studied and extended by their peers. Functional-style notations are as elegant as notations found in Physics and Math books, and in fact, help amplify that material. This way, CS does not have to stand apart from science and math but seem like a natural extension thereof.

    CS, as a discipline, is replete with ideas found in no traditional discipline (e.g., blockchains). But dual-purposing CS to help amplify traditional science and engineering concepts allows it to piggy-back on the effort already underway to teach such subjects and reveals a dimension that is not accessible by mere cerebral study or thought-experiments, but rather a direct animation of, say, planetary motion from gravitational equations. Studies have shown that CS appeals to a much wider group and transcends gender barriers (a huge unresolved problem) when tied to things that spark the human imagination. If we do not include half the geniuses out there, our cause is lost.

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