In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama unveiled Computer Science for All , a bold initiative, which calls for $4 billion in state funding to expand K-12 access to computer science instruction and programing. This plan also calls for $100 million to go directly to school districts to train teachers and build partnerships.
The President noted that in the coming years, students should be offered “hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.” As many of the statistics below show, careers requiring computer science skills are in high demand.
Why the Nationwide Push towards Computer Science?
According to the official White House website:
- More than 90% of parents surveyed want their children to learn computer science at school; however only about 25% of K-12 schools in the U.S. offer quality computer science programming and coding.
- In 2015, there were approximately 600,000 vacant, high-paying tech jobs across America.
- By 2018, 51% of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) jobs will be in computer science-related fields across different sectors, including healthcare, education, finance, and transportation.
- Wide gender and racial disparities exist in those schools that offer computer science instruction and across some of the country’s largest and innovative tech firms. For example, in 2015, only 22% of students who took the AP Computer Science exam were girls, and only 13% identified as African-American or Latino. On the professional side, women and African-Americans make up less than 33% and 3%, respectively, of tech employees.
How to Achieve the Computer Science for All Initiative in your Classroom
If you don’t have the resources to integrate computer science instruction into your classroom today, we recommend starting with a blended learning approach, which, like computer science, supports hands-on learning and shifts the classroom to a student-centered environment.
What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning combines online and in-class instruction to incorporate technology and build a collaborative and engaging learning environment. The integration of face-to-face and online learning allows students to have control over time, place, path, and/or pace of instruction. This approach fosters exploration and independence, and allows students to own their learning. Watch this video to see blended learning in action.
Additional Benefits of Blended Learning
- A blended approach personalizes learning and addresses different learning styles, abilities, interests, and needs.
- Students engage in self-directed learning and have an opportunity to build collaboration and communication skills.
- Teachers can maximize time spent in the classroom by engaging students in authentic learning experiences and ensuring strong mastery of the content.
- Blended learning builds students’ digital, media, and information literacy—all of which are skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.
- Parents have a chance to become more involved, as they can listen to teachers’ lectures with their children at home and track their progress over the course of the school year.
- Blended learning takes many forms: teachers can blend a single lesson or activity, or use blended learning as a framework for an entire course.
The blended learning approach you choose will depend on your resources and the specific needs of your students and classroom.