Computer Studies


I spent considerable time this weekend thinking about Thursday.  On Thursday, all of the Computer Studies teachers will be brought together to dig into the new Ontario Computer Studies document with a mandatory implementation for September 2009.

In the course of my job, I get to work with computer using educators at all levels.  I can draw with Kidpix, create a wiki, analyse data with Tinkerplots, create a desktop publishing document with the best of them.  But, my first teachable is Computer Studies.  It has fallen on tough times recently, attracting only a portion of the students that it had previously.  With computer ubiquity, more and more students and parents “know computers” and don’t see the value.  After all, if you can create a “powerpoint” or “Google something”, that’s all that you need to do, right?  Hah!  There are talented people who actually create the code to make this work and even more who need to know how works for training, public relations, sales, and so much more.  With all the Web 2.0 startups, and new software, there are more jobs than ever for people who know how to produce code and/or understand how all of this works.  Even if you’re not going to be a programmer, the skills and knowledge from a Computer Studies program are of incredible and increasing value today and will be into the future.

There’s a lot of good things in this document.  First of all, it recognizes that Computer Studies is a legitimate discipline.  It does so by breaking it away from the previous Technological Studies document and it now stands by itself.  Secondly, starting in Grade 11, it offers two pathways for students.  Instead of the previous M designation for courses, there is now a C – College and U – University option with significant differences in both programs.  The document contains instructions about how the activities that students undertake should address literacy, numeracy, and inquiry/research skills.   Teachers are also reminded that activities should also be designed with the Ontario Skills Password in mind.  Unfortunately, the policy and curriculum document stops short of making at least one Computer Studies course compulsory.  Hopefully, once the excellent content is understood by students and guidance departments, the importance and relevance will make it an attractive option.

I am also impressed that each of the courses contains a “Computers and Society” strand and that “Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability” has its own section.  This is an increasingly important area that all need to address.  I think back over the years to all of the computers that I have owned.  Often, they are donated to schools, but at some point they do end up in a landfill somewhere.  Even as a board, we turn over computers annually.  While we do donate them to “Computers for Kids“, there does come a time when they are totally discarded.  This topic is so important.  Just maybe there will be someone sitting in a classroom who will take this to heart and come up with a stroke of genius to solve this problem.  In the meantime, every student needs to understand their imprint on the environment.

At the Ministry rollout, the Education Officer encouraged everyone to begin the process of identifying good web resources and bookmark them on Delicious with the tag “ICSXX“.  The process has begun and hopefully continue as a province full of Computer Studies teachers gears up for this implementation.  I know that I’ve been tagging there and also in “ComputerScience“, “Computer/Fluency” among other things.  For example, this activity, deals with Computers and Canadian Culture.

There’s even more of the good stuff in there.  I spent far too long this weekend here.

But, you know what?  I solved them all.  I studied Computer Science.

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