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A New Paradigm for Computer Science Education


The Paradigm is changed for Computer Science Education. As a private Citizen attending the Education Interim Committee meetings and following it closely, I offered a method of doing what the Education Committees have sought to do for years.

In June 2017, I attended the Joint Education Interim Committee, as I've done for some years now. Once again they were struggling on how to 'shoe-horn' computer science education into an already full curriculum. The committees have known that this needs to be done, but just how do you find the room?

A few minutes prior to adjourning I had a flash of insight! Having watched my wife Louise across many years of her teaching and time with Cub Scouts (including Cubmaster) and attending BSA National Camp School (and running summer camp programs) and just plain raising three boys, the idea of "peanut-buttering" computer science across all grades so that it came in smaller bits popped into my mind. I had similar experiences. I have also listened to presentations on foreign language total immersion programs in Wyoming.

So I went up to Chairman Northrup and said "Hey, I've got an idea for you." He reponded "OK... let's hear it" and I painted the Picture. He responded simply 'why don't you flesh it out.' The drive from Casper back home gives much time to think. A couple of days later I sent this email to him.

Chmn Northrup,
Did some more thinking on the [total immersion idea] I raised the other day. Here's a year by year thought stream:
1st & 2nd grade: keyboarding taught right along with the abc's and printing letters, in other words being able to interface with a computer is a common skill.
3rd & 4th grade: use of common low level software ending up in something like Word & Excel & PowerPoint
5th & 6th grade: beginning programming, writing simple programs,
7th & 8th grade: intro to coding, moving from programs to putting those programs into code and running them on computers   
9th & 10th grade high level software introduction to hardware or computing
11th & 12th grade high level coding, real world software & computing products
My thought is that these could be incorporated into regular classrooms along with other "tools" students use. Pencils, rulers etc in early elementary, then library skills, then writing and composing, then note taking, then paper writing, etc. The point being we teach a number of skills/tools to students along the way of education and computing & computers are just another layer of skills & tools. Such an approach would also likely reduce the resistance of those young people that "just want to go be a good ranch hand" (& don't think they need this computer stuff - yet ag has an ever increasing utilization of computers and other things like GPS tracking).
Anyway you get the idea. The above is just a strawman. But the idea is the "Total Immersion" approach, treats computers as simply another language or tool that we can peanut butter across their entire educational process instead of a unique program that means we have to take something else out of the curriculum.
Bill Winney

He said this was "very good" and asked if he could forward it to others and I said simply: use it as you will, attribution not required.........

That September at their next interim meeting I listened to the Wy Dept of Education (WDE) briefing the expanded and fleshed out program coming from this. Of course there is much flesh to be put on those bones, but the change in paradigm was clear.

This program will be implemented across probably 3-5 years or so as the WDE revises curricula. Such an approach will provide time for teachers to see what they need to be ready for and maybe acquire certificates appropriate to their grade levels. Most importantly the small changes needed to each grade can be implemented in the routine of curricula revisions and at little cost each year.

This was not a done deal. During the recent Budget session there was much debate in the education committee rooms. But in the end it received a thumbs up and the governor signed off on it. The Picture above shows Governor Mead signing the bill.

In my view this legislation has the ability to fundamentally change education and impove Wyoming's "business ready" environment at a very small cost (if any at all).

In another vein, as mentioned briefly in my email, it offers those young people who just want to be a ranch hand or run a ranch, the opportunity to learn computers woven through their educational world. Look around: computers and various elements of them are woven throughout Ag.































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