Google Australia calls for mandatory comp sci until year 10

Google Australia calls for mandatory comp sci until year 10

Summary: Google says that Australia must use education to turn from a nation of technology consumers to technology creators.

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Google has called upon the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to increase the exposure of Australian primary and secondary school students to computer science, by making the new Digital Technologies subject mandatory from kindergarten until year 10.

In an edited submission to ACARA on the technology section of the Australian Curriculum, Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble said Australia must ask itself whether it wants to be a nation of technology consumers, or technology creators.

"One costs money; one generates money," wrote Noble. "Shifting our focus as a nation from the consumption of technology to the creation of technology will help us compete in an increasingly global and connected world."

Citing a previous Google-backed study into the startup ecosystem, Noble repeated claims that the tech sector could add AU$109 billion and 540,000 new jobs to the Australian economy by 2033.

"A highly skilled workforce is the key to unlocking this value," he said.

In order to reverse the trend of falling numbers of university computer science students, Google called upon ACARA to make its Digital Technologies subject mandatory until the 10th grade, make the studying of one general purpose programming language a must, and separate Digital Technology into a distinct learning area for the purposes of economic and career awareness.

"This would make the curriculum consistent with trends in computer science education in the US, the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and countries such as Vietnam, where in many cases it is required in schools from K to 10," said Noble.

In the February draft curriculum (PDF) prepared by ACARA, the subject of Digital Technologies is currently paired with the Design and Technologies subject under a single Technologies banner.

The curriculum is intended to help students become both users and developers of IT.

"There is a clear relationship between the Digital Technologies curriculum and the ICT general capability. The capability assists students to become effective users of ICT. The Digital Technologies curriculum assists students to become confident developers of digital solutions," the curriculum states.

The new Digital Technologies subject is not a drop-in replacement for previous computer science subjects; while it may involve programming and computer science concepts, that is not the sole aim of the subject.

"The focus is on the strengthening of computational thinking, logic, and problem-solving capability to build capacity for the future and to apply to a wide range of situations," said ACARA in an information sheet (PDF).

After this round of consultation, ACARA's draft technologies curriculum will be revised and available for public viewing from September. Once ministerial approval is achieved, the final curriculum will be published in late 2013.

Topics: Education, Google, Australia

About

Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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4 comments
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  • Great Idea ..... BUT !!!

    What's the point if the larger companies outsource their Tech overseas. I see no point in starting our own smart industry in tech of the jobs are going offshore.
    Gary Whelan
  • Yes I agree it's a good idea!

    But not for the first 3 years of schooling, let them be exposed to tech in those years but teach the basics first. Also it's time for companies to go back to the way they used to work. TRAIN YOUR OWN STAFF YOU CLOWNS!

    Stop relying on ready made tech and train up people, industry used to have some of the best train facilities around but they got lazy and now keep trying to tell everyone else to train the workers they need!
    martin_js
  • It Seems to Me...

    ...that less laser-focused courses in math, etc, taught previous generations enough about logic, problem-solving, etc, for the entire computer industry to arise and achieve greatness in the first place. Is it really necessary for courses concerned exclusively with the creation of digital technology to receive focus equal to math and science (or English)? Isn't training towards a specific career the entire raison d'etre for specialised degrees, and college and university majors? Certainly when I was a kid in elementary through highschool I wasn't forced to take mandatory courses in Agriculture, Mining, Business Management or any other industry focused courses because our economic future and livelihoods depend upon food, natural resources and industry. Yes, there were various vocational and shop courses, various practical courses in keyboarding (AKA typing), even courses in Computer Science (I'm not that old), but NONE with the requirement that they be taken for several years by every student, including little Zeke who wants to be a cattle hand. (As for learning how to use the net, etc, that was generally left to common sense, while training in conducting research (all types of research) was a part of every subject). I agree with martin_js -- this is a self-serving ploy on the part of Google, and not a proposal to benefit Australian society or its students. Teach the basics skills and knowledge (including the use of digital technology) that allow kids to learn, to become the adaptable, logical, skilled people who are able to adapt to changes and new technologies and learn computer languages as part of a liberal education instead of force-feeding them a particular focused vocation for the sake of Google HR and their training budgets.
    hmmm,
  • Imagine The Outcry When Reading And Writing Were First Made Compulsory

    Back then, being able to read and write was a specialty technical skill that got you a job as a scribe. But who else needed to know how to encode and decode those marks on paper, clay, stone, what have you? You could just hire a scribe to do that for you, right?

    Today, everybody is their own scribe. If literacy--the ability to store and retrieve information beyond the limits of human memory--was the first information revolution, then "computeracy"--the ability to process that information beyond the limits of the human brain--is the second.
    ldo17