Thinking about Arkansas, Computer Science, & Harvard. My ability to concentrate on homework and studying is officially exhausted. I put the finishing touches on my homework and prepped a bit for this weeks quiz. I planned to start next weeks homework, but I am confident that is not going to happen tonight! I have reread the assignment details a few times, and the scratches on my head are becoming literal! So while I have a few minutes figured I could switch topics for a while and share my notes from my workshop last week. See more pictures on the CS50 Facebook Site.
Here are a few takeaways from my notes and my experience at the CS50 Workshop.
I had a fantastic opportunity to spend time with some of the Harvard CS50 staff and teachers from across the country working to bring computer science skills to the masses. I spent a few days in Arkansas at the CS50 Educator workshop. I had the opportunity to learn more about the CS50 curriculum. I got to learn how to adapt the curriculum to meet Advanced Placement (AP) standards and all about the tools provided to host the class using the CS50 curriculum. In short, it was fantastic! What an amazing FREE resource available to anyone willing to bring CS to students and their community.
If there is any confusion, I am not a teacher. I sent a note to the Harvard CS50 staff, and they graciously allowed me to participate.
1. Thank you, educators!
I was so impressed with the number of teachers I interacted with who were stepping out of their comfort zones to bring computer science skills to their students. I am so very impressed and thankful. The communities you support will be better educated and better prepared to be a part of the workforce of the future. The Harvard CS50 content that they will be bringing to their classrooms is fantastic!
2. Arkansas appears to get it!
Or at least they seem to share my concern! I am not fully aware of the details of what Arkansas got cooking with their state wide computer science initiative. On the surface, it seems that Arkansas shares my thoughts on the importance and the growing necessity of computer science for my boys, all youth and many adults. I much enjoyed getting to meet some of the states dedicated CS professional development staff. I got to hear about how they are equipping teachers and teaching students CS with a level of creativity that can only be an offshoot of their passion.
3. Harvard's CS50 Introduction to Computer Science is a fantastic course.
If you have any interest at all in learning CS fundamentals and learning how to code CS50 is a great place to start. You can take this course completely free on edx.org.
The structure of the course is very well thought out and refined over many years of experience. The course starts with a gentle introduction to programming with drag and drops programming with MIT's Scratch. It then teaches you C, which is a very low-level language that helps you understand the ins and outs of giving computer instructions with code. It then moves on to Python, which teaches you the power of a higher-level language and gets you moving into web application development.
For full disclosure, I have not finished the course just yet. I did watch almost 6 weeks of lectures and material but need to completed the projects. When my current semester of my master's program ends, I will use my next break to make more progress on this course!
4. Computer Science knowledge and skillset can immediately create opportunities for those who take advantage.
CS skills will be and is currently very advantageous to accountants, engineers, bankers and marketers, photographers, and several other professions that I could name. Heck, CS skills will be core to jobs that do not even exist yet! CS skills can enable a high school students, college students, or adults to start creating employment opportunities or to employ their skillsets almost immediately with a plethora of companies. According to this CS advocacy site in 2018 there were approximately 2K open computing jobs in Oklahoma. Go a little further south and you will find 38K open computing jobs in Texas. I can only assume that those number have increased since 2018.
Want to check these numbers and learn about the opportunities that CS skills can provide? Check these sites.
- To find freelance opportunities check upwork.com.
- To check out the current market, take a look at the jobs posted on linkedin.com.
5. Tools, tools, and more tools but they are all missing something critical!
The amount of resources available on the web for learning how to code is impressive. The only thing better than the plethora of tools is the number of high-quality free resources also available. Many people have successfully learned a plethora of skills online. I would argue that most, however, fall short of their goals due to lack of support. A like minded community, a mentor, a coach, or a teacher for support are invaluable to your success in most endeavors and learning CS is no different. I would encourage everyone to check out meetup.com for local coding and technology communities for support.
6. Now what?
Well, now I have all the tools and resources available to me to teach the Harvard CS50 course which is, as previously stated, fantastic. The next step on that journey is to finish taking the class as a student. My driver for this journey, however, are my three sons. To the extent possible, I can and will share with my community as I try to make sure my sons learn these skills. So…, I have also written up a curriculum and plan to "pilot" my first Introduction to Programming with Drones course. I have about 10 seven to ten-year-olds lined up for my trial run at having some fun and learning CS principles (wish me luck).