ACS Releases Major Report on Computer Science Education | information age

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ACS urges a learning support program to improve the skills of all teachers in digital technologies. Photo: Shutterstock

ACS has released a comprehensive new report on the state of digital technology education in Australia, calling for more ICT-qualified teachers in classrooms.

The report, Teaching Computer Science in Australian Schools 2022: Enabling the Next Generation of Computer Professionals is based on a national school survey conducted by ACS in 2021 and focuses on the implementation and adoption of the new digital technologies curriculum.

“It’s no secret that Australia has a significant shortage of ICT professionals,” said ACS President Dr Nick Tate.

“Every year for the next five years, business and government will require more than 50,000 new IT professionals,” Dr. Tate noted.

“In 2019, there were less than 7,000 ICT graduates from Australian universities, which is far from enough to meet the needs. We cannot continue to rely on foreign workers to make up the shortfall.

A key pillar of the plan to encourage more students to pursue careers in technology was the creation of the Digital Technologies Curriculum in 2014, which has been gradually (but inconsistently) rolled out to all states. from.

The report focuses on the development of digital technologies, noting that the design of the program is excellent, but there are still implementation issues.

A key problem revealed in the report is the lack of teacher training, especially in the primary school years.

“In the primary years, digital technologies represent an entirely new set of content that most teachers have not experienced in their own education or teacher preparation,” the report notes.

“In secondary education, digital technologies have represented a sea change from teaching ICT applications to teaching computer science, with many junior high school computer science teachers having only programming skills rudimentary and self-taught and no experience with information systems or query language.”

The result, according to the report, is that program implementation has been uneven and there is often confusion between digital literacy (the basic skills of using computers, such as using a text or tablet) and digital technologies (using computers to create and design).

In its 55 recommendations, the report notes a number of other issues that need to be addressed, including:

– the need to have at least one teacher in each primary school with a formal qualification in teaching Digital Technologies; and all high school computer science teachers with at least some formal training in a programming language

– a requirement for States to develop appropriate and systematic professional learning support programs to improve the skills of all teachers

– that there needs to be much better communication with parents about the curriculum and student outcomes

– that industry and academia need to work much better with schools, both to provide support and to help direct learning into productive areas

– that significant work remains to be done to remedy inequalities in access to equipment and trained teachers.

ACS has already engaged with the government on funding issues, proposing a $100 million teacher training program for digital technologies as part of its 2022 election platform.

“There is no single silver bullet that will make Australia a world leader in digital technology education. But we think it’s worth putting all we can into it,” Dr. Tate noted in the foreword to the report.

The full report can be downloaded from the ACS website here.

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