Today we had a paper published in Springer’s Journal of Computers in Education, entitled: A university-based model for supporting computer science curriculum reform. This paper builds upon our previous work disseminating outcomes and impacts of the Technocamps project based at Swansea University, especially in the context of emerging curriculum reform in Wales.
A university-based model for supporting computer science curriculum reform
Faron Moller and Tom Crick
Computer science curriculum reform in the United Kingdom has been subject to substantial scrutiny — as it has in many other countries around the world — with England introducing a radical new computing curriculum from September 2014. However, in Wales — a devolved nation within the UK — political, geographical and socio-cultural issues have to date hindered any substantive educational policy or curriculum reform for computer science. In this paper, we present the activities of Technocamps, a national university-based schools outreach programme founded in 2003, and consider its wider impact on computer science education, schools, pupils and teachers in Wales. In contrast to successful interventions elsewhere in the UK in building and sustaining communities of practice, certain political and cultural challenges in Wales have largely prevented these successful models from being adopted. Through the consideration of the national case study presented in this paper, we demonstrate the necessity of the nation-wide school- and student-focused Technocamps model in building resilient and scalable practitioner-led support networks. Furthermore, with emerging curriculum reform in Wales, we frame the wider opportunity for computer science education and sustainably embedding cross-curricular digital competencies — along with changing the wider public perception and perceived value of computer science as an academic discipline — as a prospective replicable case study of a national engagement model for nations with similar aspirations of developing digitally confident and capable citizens. To this end, we conclude by drawing out the important lessons learnt for consideration when embarking on a programme of national curriculum reform and associated professional development.
Keywords: Computer science education; School–university partnerships; In-service teacher education; Professional development; Informal learning; Curriculum reform; Wales
(also see: Publications)