Around the World with CS Ed

Mar 03, 2018

Miles Berry

It’s been my privilege to serve the CS education community as the international rep on CSTA’s board for the last couple of years. I’ve had some great opportunities to visit other countries to share what we’re learning about implementing computing education for all back in England, and to learn how other countries are introducing CS in their schools. Let me share four great projects here.

For anyone interested in laying a foundation for CS in kindergarten, it’s hard to do better than Linda Liukas’s Hello Ruby work in Finland. Linda has written and illustrated a series of three books, each featuring Ruby, a small girl with powers of logic, perseverance and imagination. Alongside the books, has a great set of unplugged, craft-based activities through which young children can learn computational thinking and what happens inside a computer.

New Zealand’s Tim Bell has just received SIGCSE’s outstanding contribution to CS education award. Tim’s CS Unplugged takes some of the harder ideas from CS and makes these accessible to children (and teachers) through practical, classroom based activities. More recently, he and his team have plugged some of this back in, with companion coding activities in Scratch. His CS Field Guide is brilliant too, for those learning or teaching CS at high school level.

There are so many fab CS education initiatives in the USA, but if I have to pick one, it would have to be Scratch, from Mitch Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten team at MIT. For me, the wonderful thing about Scratch is not its block-based approach to building (rather than writing) code, but rather the global community of young coders that has grown up around it, with a vibrant culture of sharing, remixing and informal learning. It’s also great how Scratch has led on to the development of other tools like Scratch Jr, Snap! and GP.

Finally, I have to mention the ‘problem solving activities for computational thinkers’ textbooks that have been developed by KOFAC in South Korea, covering topics such as AI, the internet of things and gene editing. The books combine authoritative, engaging text with practical activities, some unplugged, but others using Korea’s equivalent of Scratch, Entry. I’ve uploaded English translations to Computing At School’s site.

I talk a little about these projects, as well as coding competitions in Singapore, in a presentation I gave at Microsoft in Reading last November.

My personal statement for the CSTA board elections