B.C. adds coding to K-12 school curriculum

VANCOUVER -- Students in British Columbia's public elementary schools are on track to become the first generation to get basic training in computer coding as the province answers a call from its thriving tech sector.

See Full Article

Some children in grades six to nine will begin learning the ABCs of digital technology once the government adds coding to teachers' lesson plans in its modernized curriculum.

Schools will receive the new curriculum in September and the program is slated to be phased in over three years. The goal is to expose all kindergarten to Grade 12 students to coding basics within the next decade.

Premier Christy Clark announced the plan Monday among several initiatives to address a shortage of workers with digital skills that are needed by B.C. tech firms in the government's bid to bolster the knowledge economy.

"You've told us ... you need more talent. We know that's crucial for your success," Clark told about 2,800 delegates at the BCTech Summit.

"Tech companies will locate in places where they can find the people that will be capable of doing the work. We need to start that in our schools."

Specific details, including costs to implement the curriculum changes, weren't revealed as the program remains under development. Government officials said teachers will be given the opportunity to learn about coding during professional development days.

The officials said they looked to jurisdictions including Ontario and Britain as examples in designing the policy, but noted there's no place that's implemented coding long enough to know its results.

So far, the province has spent $500,000 running five coding academies over the past year for post-secondary students and has committed to expanding those camps into the next fiscal year. It also supported a program called Hour of Code for nearly 700 schools last December.

Jeremy Shaki, CEO of Lighthouse Labs, which has held free coding boot camps for citizens, said he would have loved to see the new curriculum delivered last year, but is thrilled by recent progress.

"A lot of people have been banging this door for a couple years now," said Shaki. "By putting it out there, it means they'll have to develop it."

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have made similar commitments to coding over the past two years, while the United Kingdom made coding a mandatory part of school curriculum in 2014.

New York City announced last fall that all of its public schools will be required to offer computer science to all students, and Chicago is working on a similar initiative.

Melody Ma, a Vancouver web-developer who convinced the government to participate in the Hour of Code, said revising B.C.'s curriculum is great but she has concerns.

"What are the resources on the back-end to actually support this? We haven't heard what those plans are. How are we actually going to make this happen? Not every child in school has access to a computer," she said.

The disparity in resources around the province became clear when Ma helped put on a free coding event at an older high school in Prince George, B.C. Some 100 participating students had to learn offline when they ran out of Internet bandwidth.

Tech firm CEO Alexandra Greenhill is a mother of three girls, ages five to 13, who believes the potential of an entire generation will be undermined if coding is not made a core part of the education system.

She believes savvy policy will find ways, such as implementing a simple card game she invented called "Little Coder" that teaches kids to think like computers.

"We don't teach you language for you to become a poet or English professor," she said. "I don't want my kids to automatically become coders. I want them to know enough about this so they're not intimidated and they can choose to embrace it if they want to."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Indonesia survey shows massive coral death from cruise ship

    Tech & Science CTV News
    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia says nearly 19,000 square metres of coral reef was damaged by a foreign cruise ship that ran aground in the pristine waters of Raja Ampat in West Papua province earlier this month. Source
  • Ground-breaking bat cave discovery gives Alberta researchers baseline in fight against deadly disease

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The recent discovery of a large cave or hibernacula in northern Alberta where hundreds of bats have found hibernating is giving researchers a baseline measurement in the fight against the deadly white-nose syndrome. "Up until now, within the bulk of Alberta, the large hibernacula we have found are in the Rocky Mountains, so it's nice to find that this is the third-largest known hibernacula in the province," Dave Critchley of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bat Caver program told The…
  • New categories of dinosaur family tree proposed by scientists

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Some of the best-known dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus rex and Brontosaurus, may be headed for a divorce due to irreconcilable differences. Scientists on Wednesday proposed a radical overhaul of the dinosaur family tree first laid out in 1888, concluding after an analysis of 75 species that the meat-eating group that includes T. Source
  • Lip-reading program more accurate than humans could help hearing-impaired

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Lip-reading is a notoriously tricky task. But researchers at the University of Oxford in the U.K. have created a computer program called Watch, Attend and Spell to do just that. They claim their lip-reading algorithm is more accurate than human professionals. Source
  • Arctic sea ice at record low for third straight year

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Arctic sea ice is at a record low for the third straight year. The measurements from the U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center say the ice reached its maximum extent on March 7. Source
  • Waste not on World Water Day: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    This year's theme for the United Nations World Water Day is, "Why Waste Water?" As the world demands more and more of our most precious resource, and sources seem to be drying up, the UN says there is a huge untapped reservoir that could help to meet the demand: wastewater. Source
  • Google Maps to allow others to track your movements

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Google Maps users will soon be able to broadcast their movements to friends and family -- the latest test of how much privacy people are willing to sacrifice in an era of rampant sharing. Source
  • Earthquakes could cause Los Angeles area to sink abruptly: study

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Big One may be overdue to hit California, but scientists near Los Angeles have found a new risk for the area during a major earthquake: abrupt sinking of land, potentially below sea level. The last known major quake on the San Andreas fault occurred in 1857, but three quakes over the last 2,000 years on nearby faults made ground just outside Los Angeles city limits sink as much as one metre, according to a study published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports. Source
  • Rusty-patched bumblebee first of species declared endangered in continental U.S.

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The rusty-patched bumblebee became the first officially endangered bee species in the continental U.S. on Tuesday, overcoming objections from some business interests and a last-minute delay ordered by the Trump administration. One of many bee types that have suffered steep population declines, the rusty-patched has disappeared from about 90 per cent of its range in the past 20 years. Source
  • Apple cuts prices on lower-end iPads, releases red iPhones

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK - Apple is cutting prices on two iPad models and introducing red iPhones, but the company held back on updating its higher-end iPad Pro tablets. A much-speculated 10.5-inch iPad Pro didn't materialize, nor did new versions of existing sizes in the Pro lineup, which is aimed at businesses and creative professionals. Source