Two papers at EDUCON’21

This week, we will be presenting two papers at the 12th IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON’21), the flagship conference of the IEEE Education Society usually held in the EMEA region (but being held online again this year). These papers build on two themes of recent work with existing collaborators: the impact of COVID-19 on education (and especially CS education), and how to bridge the gap between (university) qualifications and expectations/requirements from employers, linking back to wider work on degree accreditation.

As you can see from the abstracts below, these two papers represent timely work-in-progress, with both themes having the potential to influence policy and practice in the UK and internationally; stay tuned, more to follow!

The International Impact of COVID-19 and “Emergency Remote Teaching” on Computer Science Education Practitioners

Tom Crick, Cathryn Knight, Richard Watermeyer and Janet Goodall
*Best Paper Award*
In March 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic imposed “emergency remote teaching” across education globally, leading to a rapid shift to online learning, teaching and assessment (LT&A) across all settings, from schools through to universities. This paper looks specifically at the impact of these disruptive — and ongoing — changes to those teaching the discipline of computer science (CS) across the world. Drawing on the quantitative and qualitative findings from a large-scale international survey (N=2,483) conducted in the immediate aftermath of the shift online between March–April 2020, we report how those teaching CS across all educational settings and contexts (n=327) show significantly more positive attitudes towards the move to online LT&A than those working in other disciplines. When comparing educational setting, CS practitioners in schools felt more prepared and confident than those in higher education; however, they expressed greater concern around equity and whether students would be able to access and meaningfully engage with online LT&A. Furthermore, while CS practitioners across all sectors consistently noted the potential opportunities of these changes, they also raised a number of wider concerns on the impact of this shift to online, especially on workload and job precarity. Concerns were also raised by international CS practitioners regarding the ability to effectively deliver technical topics online, as well as the impact on formal examinations and assessment. This rapid response snapshot of the early impact of COVID-19 on CS education internationally provides insight into emerging LT&A strategies that will likely continue to be constrained by coronavirus into 2021 and beyond.
Keywords: COVID-19, emergency remote teaching, practitioner perceptions, schools, universities, computer science education

Towards a 21st Century Personalised Learning Skills Taxonomy

Rupert Ward, Oliver Phillips, David Bowers, Tom Crick, James H. Davenport, Paul Hanna, Alan Hayes, Alastair Irons and Tom Prickett
There exists a significant gap between the requirements specified within higher education qualifications and the requirements sought by employers. The former, commonly expressed in terms of learning outcomes, provide a measure of capability, of what skills have been learnt (an input measure); the latter, commonly expressed in terms of role descriptions, provide a measure of competency, of what a learner has become skilful in (an output measure). Accreditation traditionally provides a way of translating and embedding industry-relevant content into education programmes but current approaches make fully addressing this requirements gap, referred to here as the Capability-Competency Chasm, very difficult. This paper explores current efforts to address this global challenge, primarily through STEM examples that apply within the United Kingdom and European Union, before proposing a way of bridging this chasm through the use of a 21st Century (C21) skills taxonomy. The concept of C21 Skills Hours as a new input measurement for learning within qualifications is introduced, and an illustrative example is presented to show the C21 skills taxonomy in action. The paper concludes with a discussion of how such a taxonomy can also be used to support a microcredentialing framework that aligns to existing competency frameworks, enabling formal, non-formal and informal learning to all be recognised. A C21 Skills taxonomy can therefore be used to bridge the gap between capability (input) and competency (output), providing a common language both for learning and demonstrating a skill. This approach has profound implications for addressing current and future skills gaps as well as for supporting a transition to more personalised learning within schools, colleges and universities and more lifelong learning both during and outside of employment.
Keywords: Personalised learning, skills taxonomy, microcredential, framework, accreditation

(also see: Publications)

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