Draining The Life Out of Computer Science?Coding Like It Was The 1980s … So Where’s Machine Learning, Cybersecurity, Data Science, and IoT?Prof Bill Buchanan OBEBlockedUnblockFollowFollowingJan 25We all know that coding is the future, and that many of the jobs of the future will involve some form of coding/scripting.
The Cloud, too, with its GitHub infrastructure, open source code, and its vast array of services, provides a way to break out of our stand-alone machine model of our computing world.
But, Computer Science at school is not doing well just now.
In the UK, it struggles to get into the Top 10 subjects at school, and also has a 80%/20% male/female gender balance (and which rises to 85%/15% for Higher Computer Science in Scotland).
The first sight of Computer Science at school is often the usage of Microsoft Office, and where we then drag them into learning structure charts and pointing them to the creation databases in Microsoft Access.
This is a 1980s model of our computing world, and bares little resemblance to the future (and potential) of software.
We have thus been left with a legacy of IT Systems, and in trying to match the syllabus at school onto something that matches to university entry.
But universities don’t really care that much about the subject, and it’s often not required as entry into Computer Science courses.
But surely Computer Science is now more important than just getting kids into Computer Science courses?.It will build new economies, it will stimulate our new businesses, it will drive improvements in our public services, …Just now, I am loving software development.
I can be creative, and build things in minutes that used to take years.
I can share code easily and take code from others.
I now don’t have to write face recognition software or integrate libraries from costly software package.
I just add a few lines of Python code and integrate with the greatest machine ever created — The Cloud.
This new world is not about Microsoft Access, DLLs, desktop computers, BASIC, and Microsoft Windows.
It’s about being free and the integration with the Cloud.
I can instantly install things with “pip”, “apt” and “npm” and I am not locked down by any local restrictions.
It’s about Linux, and where the only GUI we see is our development environment, but under the hood it’s all just commands and scripts.
It’s about Cloud systems which build amazing infrastructures.
It’s about a few lines of standard code which can speak to me in any language that I want, or that can recognise whether someone has a beard or not.
Coding is fun again!.With Python and The Cloud, the world of data is at our fingertips, and we must show our kids this potential.
A new world is thus evolving and computer science feels like fun again.
But when I look at what is being taught at school, I feel that the life has been drained out of the subject I love.
Here is an outline of the “newly updated” syllabus for the N5 subject in Scotland:Software Design and Development: Analysis and Design; Data Types and Structures; Programming Constructs; Standard Algorithms; Testing; Evaluation.
Data Representation; Computer Structure; Translation of High-Level Languages; Environmental Impact; Security PrecautionsDatabase Design and Development.
Analysis and Design; and Implementation, Testing and EvaluationWeb Design and Development.
I think this syllabus takes a wonderful subject, and extracts all the interesting and engaging bits out.
In fact, it wouldn’t be out-of-place in the 1980s.
If I was given this syllabus to teach, I would turn it down in an instance, and ask to go and teach English.
Overall, it’s as if The Cloud never happened!Where’s the wonderful world of cloud computing?.Where’s machine learning and AI?.Where’s the potential of distributed ledgers and in creating new financial infrastructures build on trust?.Where’s investigating data privacy and digital signing?.Where’s the new world of IoT and of sensors and smart cities?.Where’s the physics of gaming?.And, especially, where’s data science?Surely we should be switching our next generation onto the future, and show them how they can become architects of building a new world, and not to switch them off with the legacy of our old digital world?.To teach children how to create a structure chart and in creating HTML tags will lose another generation.
Shouldn’t we be asking our kids to take open source health and social data around deprivation, and get them to use Python to analyse data?.Shouldn’t we get kids to write a few lines of code and connect to the Microsoft/AWS Cognitive Engines, and get them to analyse faces, speech, and text?.Where is the showing kids that cryptography could build a new world?. More details