Written by Charlotte Brearley of BSD Education
In a recent survey of 540 K-12 teachers conducted by YouGov for Microsoft, 88% of teachers said they agree computer science is critical to ensuring success in the workplace. 83% said they believe coding can build students’ creativity. It is very clear that teachers recognize the importance and benefits of technology education.
However, one-fifth of teachers said their students aren’t actually taught any computer science. These teachers say this is for a number of reasons: computer science isn’t part of their school’s curriculum, there is a lack of funding for it, and it’s not a subject students are tested on. The fact that computer science is completely excluded from one-fifth of schools in this survey highlights the clear disconnect between what teachers and society believe to be important – giving students digital skills to prepare them for the future – and the reality of what is actually happening in schools.
A second issue is that, even where computer science is present in schools, teachers feel underqualified when it comes to preparing students for a more digital future. Despite 88% of the teachers agreeing that computer science is critical, 30% felt underqualified and 20% felt overwhelmed. Teachers are clearly not receiving the support or opportunities for training necessary to bring technology education into their classrooms confidently.
Interestingly, it was the same sort of feedback that led to our offering at BSD Education. We spoke to a range of teachers from across the world and found that whilst most teachers recognize that technology education is vital for students to succeed in the future, it was difficult to deliver it effectively. To understand why this was the case, we conducted research, working directly with schools and students across a multitude of socio-economic, cultural and intellectual backgrounds. We found that whilst schools want to do more with technology, there are three fundamental barriers to integrating it effectively:
- Confidence: Teachers don’t usually have a tech background and so can see it as risky and unfamiliar. Professional development for an area that is new and technical can be hard to access.
- Content: Technology is constantly changing. Curriculum can, therefore, become quickly outdated.
- Community: Teachers don’t have a community of practice or peers, with a core group of trained practitioners, to learn from and share ideas.
Based on this research, we have worked with thousands of students and teachers, including over 34,000 hours of in-classroom testing, to create a solution that drives the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers. To help schools integrate technology curriculum into all subject areas we provide them with:
- An online teaching environment that gives teachers confidence by putting them in control of the learning experience.
- Real world relevant curriculum that can be brought into every subject.
- Professional development that enables every teacher to integrate technology into their classroom.
Our new year’s resolution is to bring this solution and create the community in and amongst ever more schools globally to help break the disconnect. Teachers know that technology education is vital. We just need to empower them and support them with the right tools to be in a position to deliver.