Last week I had the privilege of attending the Digital Technologies Curriculum Summit. Hosted by Google in Sydney, 25 fully funded positions were offered to any educator across Australia to be in attendance at the summit. I was fortunate enough to be 1 of those successful applicants, which was very humbling. As well as the 25 successful applicants, the summit also brought together representatives from primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, professional bodies, corporate entities (including Google) and even ACARA.
The purpose of the summit was to discuss the imminent publication of the Digital Technologies curriculum, collaborate in topical unconference sessions, and explore methods of integrating the curriculum and engaging students in Computer Science. It was a terrific opportunity to explore this area of the curriculum with other passionate teachers and important stake holders.
We were spoilt for inspiration by several keynote speakers and workshop presenters:
- Maggie Johnson, Google’s Global Director of Education & University Relations set the scene early revealing that tertiary interest in Computer Science degrees has hit rock bottom, yet industry cannot find enough qualified people to fill positions.
— Amanda Hogan (@hogesonline) November 6, 2013
- Professor Tim Bell, founder of CS Unplugged inspired us to think more broadly about Computer Science and how it can be introduced at a young age, even without the use of a computer.
- Dr Chris Tisdell, creator of the YouTube channel Understand Mathematics, and author of free textbook Engineering Mathematics shared his vision of the augmentation of open resources for learning.
— Anthony Speranza (@anthsperanza) November 7, 2013
- Luan Heimlich, from FIRST Australia discussed the impact of their robotics program and provided us with a fun and engaging workshop experience involving Lego robotics.
— Anthony Speranza (@anthsperanza) November 8, 2013
The positive efforts on Google’s behalf to support teachers in Computer Science can also be seen from their recent announcement of the launching of a MOOC involving the University of Adelaide and Google. It is envisaged that this free online course will provide primary educators the skills and resources they need to tackle Computer Science with young students, a terrific move to support primary educators.
From this summit, there was an urgency emerging that we need to engage students in computer science, computational thinking, and digital proficiencies at a young age. Teachers and students alike need to look to role models and discover the real world applications of Computer Science, and realise the potential skill set for the work force of the present and the future. The two videos below that were shared at the summit illustrate this really well.
There was much networking, planning and forward thinking that occurred over the two days. I await, and am excited to see how this pans out and continues to evolve in this particular endeavor of education.
The hashtag #googledigiteach was the backchannel for the summit and a storify of all the tweets over the 2 days can be seen here.