Google funds high school IT teachers workshops

Canterbury and Victoria universities will host events for digital technology teachers next month

Digital technology teachers will get a jump start on tackling their technology curriculums with a conference aimed at bringing teachers and industry experts together.

The Computer Science for High Schools (CS4HS) conference will take place over the first two weeks of December, and will be hosted by the University of Canterbury in Christchurch on December 6 and 7, and Victoria University in Wellington on December 13 and 14.

The initiative is sponsored by Google, which funds similar events in US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China, and Australia.

The organisers say New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to embed programming into the high school curriculum, through NCEA standards first introduced in 2011.

The challenge now is to upskill and support high school teachers in teaching technology to their students.

At the conference teachers can attend workshops on programming languages such as Python, Scratch, and JavaScript. A web-based programming game called Code Avengers, developed by New Zealander Michael Walmsley, will be demonstrated as an interesting way of teaching students programming.

Code Avengers is used by software exporter Orion Health to teach children in its Code Club programme, which is being run in lower decile suburbs of eastern Christchurch.

“The ICT industry is watching with great anticipation as to how the new digital technologies curriculum will serve the next generation of kiwi high school students and feed the local New Zealand ICT industry,” says Ian McCrae, CEO Orion Health, and a long time advocate of better IT education in schools.

"IT teachers have a great responsibility to shape the way in which our children perceive the world of computer science as being one of possibility through software, and information technology."

Tim Bell, deputy head of computer science and software engineering at UoC, says teaching the fundementals of computer science in schools is important prepartion for more indepth skills taught in universities.

"It’s knowing not just how to give instructions to computers, but knowing how to write programs that are fast, have easy-to-use interfaces, and scale well if they end up working with large amounts of data or users. Currently too often people put up with software that is slow, unresponsive, confusing to use, or crumbles under a load," says Bell.

Comments

Anonymous

1

Hmm, big advertising company funding 'public good' program's in school - sounds like softening us up to steal private data through their chummy relationship with our benighted PM

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