Boring office skill classes are turning young people in the UK against computer science. A new online course is the first step in changing the way computer sciences are taught in the UK.
A new Massive Open Online Course or MOOC is planned to go live today. It was opened for the registration of UK students last month, and 10,000 places were filled in less than a day.
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This seven-week long online course will teach British students the Java programming language basics, with the goal to create a computer game from scratch, in the style of old space invaders.
The course is designed to give a taste to the teenagers interested in studying computer programming for a degree. It is a beginner's computer course for adults, as well as a help for the post-graduates with science, math and engineering courses.
According to Sir David Bell, a former civil servant at the UK Department for Education, boring lessons and poor quality teaching has discouraged thousands of students from taking up computer science. Industry and universities need to act quickly or the country’s high-tech companies will have hard time keeping up with the rest of the world and remaining competitive in this very globalised industry. Computer science knowledge is going to be a basic skill in any sector- pharmaceuticals, financial services, manufacturing, cyber security or gaming. Without radical changes, the UK will struggle with the transition to a contemporary high-tech world.
Sir David complains that very few undergraduates today are showing the enthusiasm and the talent for computer sciences compared to those who grew up with the first home computers in the 1980s. Currently, students are learning office skills in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), instead of learning computer sciences and how to build hardware and software .
Chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Communications Policy Panel Professor Will Stewart is also calling for a more interesting and engaging computer science teaching. He calls for teaching simple, basic computer programming in an interactive context. It would be possible by setting design challenges or programming robots or computer models together with the technology and design curricula, or by developing apps for smartphones or platforms like Raspberry Pi.
According to Professor Stewart, there is a shortage of high quality teachers who have required experience and knowledge. A stronger focus on programming and algorithms places higher demands on the teachers’ skills.
The availability of appropriate programming tools and similar resources are also going to be critical to the quality of teaching computer skills.
Source: E&T Magazine