Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

More Computer Classes Urged for Kids

Filed under
Misc

Even in a nation where most every school has Internet access and computer use often starts by nursery school, teachers of technology see a warning message flashing.

For students in elementary and secondary schools, states have few developed standards or required courses in computer science - a field that goes beyond basic literacy to encompass hardware and software design, real-world applications and computers' effect on society.

Such lean coursework means that many students don't have the chance to study the science of computers until college, where a declining number are majoring in the subject. Somehow, teachers contend, states must embrace the idea of training sophisticated computer users at a younger age.

The sell isn't easy. Computer science, like other subjects, is fighting for time on student schedules and a place on the political agenda, where reading and math dominate.

"Students don't have to take our classes, it's only an option," said Jim Lindberg, who teaches computer software applications to high school students in Tacoma, Wash. "Some kids, for whatever reason, are missing the opportunity to at least take a bite out of the class, to see what it's all about ... They would use the skills they learn for the rest of their lives."

Technology teachers spoke to The Associated Press during a group interview at the annual meeting of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

Mike Brown, an instructional supervisor for Robertson County Schools in Springfield, Tenn., said more high school students should be learning programming, Web site management or graphics. Instead, they take basic keyboarding and graduate without much computer savvy, he said.

The same students who can customize their cell phones expertly need to see how computer science benefits them, he said: "If you can show them that, then they're going to jump on it."

Yet computer science teachers say they're facing a perception that careers in the field are harder to come by since the dot.com collapse a few years ago. Federal job forecasts contradict that notion, and careers from criminology to biology often demand advanced computer training.

In the United States, the number of bachelor's degrees in computer and information sciences soared 91 percent from 1997 to 2002, during the tech boom. Recently, however, the popularity of computer science as a major for incoming freshmen has plummeted, falling more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2004, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

Meanwhile, technology executives have told Congress they are increasingly relying on employees from overseas and clamoring for more U.S. graduates with stronger science skills.

The fastest growing jobs through 2012 include data communications analysts, health information technicians and computer software engineers, according to the Labor Department.
Other developments show why advocates are worried.

The number of computer science teachers dropped slightly in 2005 for the first time in years, according to Market Data Retrieval, which annually surveys schools districts.

Even the Advanced Placement Program has seen a declining number of students take its yearly tests in computer science, bucking a trend in which most every AP subject is booming.

Lindberg, the Washington teacher, has integrated reading and math into his class and helped teachers in other departments see how to better use technology. "It's almost a survival mechanism, but we're showing the 'academic' teachers that what we teach is valuable," he said.

Glenn Fernandez, an elementary school technology coordinator in Honolulu, Hawaii, helps students learn desktop publishing, spreadsheets and other tasks by sixth grade. But some schools can't afford such programs, or they lose funding for subjects required for graduation, he said. If the teachers only know word processing, he said, "that's all their class is going to get."

And that's not enough, said Chris Stephenson, executive director of the Computer Science Teachers Association, a newly formed advocacy group. The nation needs students who are prepared to develop software, design hardware, program languages and manage databases, she said. The association is promoting a model curriculum that integrates computer science through every grade.

"We need to get (students) to the level of creating original works with their skills," Stephenson said. "We want to see a generation of tool builders, not just tool users, because tool builders have the economic power in the world."

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Linux Foundation on Value of GNU/Linux Skills

  • Jobs Report: Rapid Growth in Demand for Open-Source Tech Talent
    The need for open-source technology skills are on the rise and companies and organizations continue to increase their recruitment of open-source technology talent, while offering additional training and certification opportunities for existing staff in order to fill skills gaps, according to the 2018 Open Source Jobs Report, released today by The Linux Foundation and Dice. 87% of hiring managers report difficulty finding open-source talent, and nearly half (48%) report their organizations have begun to support open-source projects with code or other resources for the explicit reason of recruiting individuals with those software skills. After a hiatus, Linux skills are back on top as the most sought after skill with 80% of hiring managers looking for tech professionals with Linux expertise. 55% of employers are now also offering to pay for employee certifications, up from 47% in 2017 and only 34% in 2016.
  • Market value of open source skills on the up
    The demand for open source technology skills is soaring, however, 87% of hiring managers report difficulty finding open source talent, according to the 2018 Open Source Jobs Report which was released this week.
  • SD Times news digest: Linux Foundation releases open-source jobs report, Android Studio 3.2 beta and Rust 1.27
    The Linux Foundation in collaboration with Dice.com has revealed the 2018 Open Source Jobs Report. The report is designed to examine trends in open-source careers as well as find out which skills are the most in demand. Key findings included 83 percent of hiring managers believes hiring open source talent is a priority and Linux is the most in-demand open-source skill. In addition, 57 percent of hiring managers are looking for people with container skills and many organizations are starting to get more involved in open-source in order to attract developers.

GNU/Linux Servers as Buzzwords: "Cloud" and "IaaS"

  • Linux: The new frontier of enterprise in the cloud
    Well obviously, like you mentioned, we've been a Linux company for a long time. We've really seen Linux expand along the lines of a lot of the things that are happening in the enterprise. We're seeing more and more enterprise infrastructure become software centric or software defined. Red Hat's expanded their portfolio in storage, in automation with the Ansible platform. And then the really big trend lately with Linux has been Linux containers and technologies like [Google] Cooper Netties. So, we're seeing enterprises want to build new applications. We're seeing the infrastructure be more software defined. Linux ends up becoming the foundation for a lot of the things going on in enterprise IT these days.
  • Why next-generation IaaS is likely to be open source
    This is partly down to Kubernetes, which has done much to popularise container technology, helped by its association with Docker and others, which has ushered in a period of explosive innovation in the ‘container platform’ space. This is where Kubernetes stands out, and today it could hold the key to the future of IaaS.

Ubuntu: Snapcraft, Intel, AMD Patches, and Telemetry

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Snapcraft
    Canonical, the company behind operating system and Linux distribution Ubuntu, is looking to help developers package, distribute and update apps for Linux and IoT with its open-source project Snapcraft. According to Evan Dandrea, engineering manager at Canonical, Snapcraft “is a platform for publishing applications to an audience of millions of Linux users.” The project was initially created in 2014, but recently underwent rebranding efforts.
  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Now Certified on Select Intel NUC Mini PCs and Boards for IoT Development, LibreOffice 6.0.5 Now Available, Git 2.8 Released and More
    Canonical yesterday announced that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is certified on select Intel NUC Mini PCs and boards for IoT development. According to the Ubuntu blog post, this pairing "provides benefits to device manufacturers at every stage of their development journey and accelerates time to market." You can download the certified image from here. In other Canonical news, yesterday the company released a microcode firmware update for Ubuntu users with AMD processors to address the Spectre vulnerability, Softpedia reports. The updated amd64-microcode packages for AMD CPUs are available for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), "all AMD users are urged to update their systems."
  • Canonical issues Spectre v2 fix for all Ubuntu systems with AMD chips
    JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU'D HEARD THE END of Spectre, Canonical has released a microcode update for all Ubuntu users that have AMD processors in a bid to rid of the vulnerability. The Spectre microprocessor side-channel vulnerabilities were made public at the beginning of this year, affecting literally billions of devices that had been made in the past two decades.
  • A first look at desktop metrics
    We first announced our intention to ask users to provide basic, not-personally-identifiable system data back in February. Since then we have built the Ubuntu Report tool and integrated it in to the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS initial setup tool. You can see an example of the data being collected on the Ubuntu Report Github page.

Most secure Linux distros in 2018

Think of a Linux distribution as a bundle of software delivered together, based on the Linux kernel - a kernel being the core of a system that connects software to hardware and vice versa – with a GNU operating system and a desktop environment, giving the user a visual way to operate the system via a graphical user interface. Linux has a reputation as being more secure than Windows and Mac OS due to a combination of factors – not all of them about the software. Firstly, although desktop Linux users are on the up, Linux environments are far less common in the grand scheme of things than Windows devices on personal computers. The Linux community also tends to be more technical. There are technical reasons too, including fundamental differences in the way the distribution architecture tends to be structured. Nevertheless over the last decade security-focused distributions started to appear, which will appeal to the privacy-conscious user who wants to avoid the worldwide state-sanctioned internet spying that the west has pioneered and where it continues to innovate. Of course, none of these will guarantee your privacy, but they're a good start. Here we list some of them. It is worth noting that security best practices are often about process rather than the technology, avoiding careless mistakes like missing patches and updates, and using your common sense about which websites you visit, what you download, and what you plug into your computer. Read more