Earlier this month, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the CS for All Summit in Detroit, Michigan. I sat on a panel with three other educators to discuss the value of Cybersecurity as a component of a well-developed Computer Science curriculum, lending my voice to the importance of providing all students with access to CS programs to round out 21st century learners. As a person without a strong computer science background, I found myself soaking the wisdom and expertise of veterans in this field. I left with a deeper understanding of the important role that Computer Science programs play in education, reflecting on the following five main take aways.
- There is a huge need for Computer Science education. Okay, this one seems a bit obvious. But as speakers shared, I was really seeing the big picture around the demand in the US for people with CS expertise. The job growth in this field is tremendous, and we are surely only going to develop more expertise in computer science as we continue to innovate.
- Teachers of Computer Science education require support and confidence around CS content and instruction. For many educators, computer science is not their primary area of teacher licensure. A distinction was made between “computer science teachers” and “teachers of computer science” as a reminder that many teachers standing in the computer science classroom were not trained to teach CS courses. We cannot understate the importance of mentoring and supporting teachers as they step in to teach content adjacent to their primary training.
- CS for All means CS for ALL. On the surface, “CS for All” means including everyone. However, the message at the summit highlighted the need to be intentional around inclusion of all, purposely encouraging and inviting members of all races, genders, nationalities, abilities, geographical regions, and economic backgrounds, to name a few. Diverse representation is foundational to the CS for All movement.
- Access for all is an evolving process. We need to think more broadly about access for all people. While the study of computer science has created opportunities for many because of accessibility, doors have continued to be shut for some. We have the responsibility to ask how we can ensure access to people of varying abilities. We have to go beyond providing audio readers and captioned texts. How can we provide access for someone without sight? How can we provide access for someone without arms? We need to be willing to ask the tough questions and expect to continue to problem solve at the individual level.
- It’s all about the kids. The summit kicked off with students from Detroit schools singing for the audience and ended with a student panel. It was a great reminder that the students are the reason we collaborate to find solutions. Preparing our students to be college and career ready for a 21st century world is our responsibility and is in our best interest. While not all students will pursue the path of computer science, we should work to eliminate all obstacles so that ALL students have the opportunity and choice.
VHS Learning will develop and launch a new 15-week online cybersecurity course for delivery in the 2019-2020 academic year. The course will be made available to more than 600 participating school districts. A 4-week companion module on cybersecurity will also be developed for both formal and informal school programs. VHS Learning will identify and enroll students from 5 Boys & Girls Clubs to pilot the cybersecurity module in summer 2019.