Last modified: Monday, December 10, 2007
IU dean leads initiative to recognize computing education as critical to 21st century workforce
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The new Education Policy Committee (EPC), a high-level group of acclaimed computer scientists and educators, chaired by Bobby Schnabel, dean of the IU School of Informatics, is delivering the message at federal and state levels that if the United States is to remain competitive in a global economy, computer science must be a critical component of U.S. education policy.
Convened by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the EPC is charged with developing initiatives aimed at shaping national education policies that impact the computing field.
"The IU School of Informatics is well-positioned to play a leading role in redefining modern, broad, university-level education in computing fields, and is considered a national leader in this regard. From this perspective, it is fitting for me to play a role in the overall national discussion about computing education."
The ACM announcement coincided with the newest report on how students around the world are performing in key subject areas. A 2006 Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) study reports that students can benefit significantly by expanded opportunities for quality computer science education.
"The industries that comprise the computing field are global, and the implications for national investment in computer science education on a country's competitive edge are significant," said Schnabel. "In the long run, national education policy that leads to a first-rate computing and information technology workforce may be the most significant factor in defining a country's ability to compete in a knowledge economy underpinned by IT."
The PISA, sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD), measured performance in reading, mathematics and science for 15-year-old students in OECD countries. Schnabel pointed out that computer science education plays a vital role in preparing the workforce for needed 21st century skills, but it is often overlooked, particularly at the high school level.
"We need to show policy makers that using computing merely enables people to leverage existing innovation, whereas understanding computing allows people to create innovations that achieve breakthroughs," Schnabel said.
Among the EPC's responsibilities for improving the quality of computing education in the U.S. are to:
- Review issues that impact science, math and computer science education in K-12 and higher education systems;
- Determine if current policies are adequately serving the computing field and recommend improvements;
- Comment on proposals before Congress that impact computing issues;
- Educate policymakers on the role and importance of computing education; and
- Provide expertise on key computing and education issues to policymakers.
A primary goal of the EPC is to ensure that computing and computer science are recognized in educational initiatives at all levels of the U.S. educational pipeline.
"Ideally, we want to see explicit discussion of 'computing' in the debates and conversation surrounding science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. At a minimum, we want to ensure that computing has a voice in these debates, and that computing is an integral part of education programs," noted John R. White, chief executive officer of ACM.
The EPC's first public appearance will be at the 2008 ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Symposium on Computer Science Education (http://www.cs.duke.edu/sigcse08), March 12-15, in Portland, Ore. The SIGCSE program features Schnabel moderating a panel of EPC members entitled "An Open Dialogue on the State of Computer Science Education Policy."
Additional ACM education initiatives include the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) launched in 2005 to tackle serious challenges to computing in U.S. high schools and middle schools, as well as ACM's participation in the National Center for Women and information Technology (NCWIT), which is working to increase the participation of women in IT in general, and the participation of girls in K-12 computing, in particular.
Additional information about ACM's Education Policy Committee is at http://www.acm.org/public-policy/education-policy-committee.
ACM Education Policy Committee members:
Bobby Schnabel, Dean, School of Informatics, Indiana University (Chair)
Fred Chang, Research Professor, Center for Information Assurance and Security, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas at Austin
Joanna Goode, Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education, University of Oregon
J Strother Moore. Chair, Department of Computer Sciences, Admiral B.R. Inman Centennial Chair in Computing Theory, University of Texas at Austin
Mark Stehlik, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Chris Stephenson, Executive Director, Computer Science Teachers Association
Ex Officio Members:
Eugene H. Spafford, Professor of Computer Science, Executive Director, Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, Purdue University
John R. White, Chief Executive Officer, ACM