Technology is all around us: websites, apps, smart devices and hardware. Without it, our world would be much different. Computer science and coding are becoming an integral part of the job landscape, but our future workers aren’t meeting the demand. According to Code.org, by 2020, an estimated one-million computer programming-related jobs will go unfulfilled. Even more glaring is that colleges and universities produce 30,000 computer science graduates every year. At that pace, it would take eight years to catch up to the current demand.
More and more K-12 school districts in the US are turning to supplement their technology plans with a true computer science and coding component to equip their students for academic achievement and success in either their post-secondary education or career. At the core of a technology program, and the primary people affected by a technology plan, are the students and teachers, according to The TechEdvocate. The ability to demonstrate in your technology plan that education technology can help achieve your school or district’s mission, contextualises its importance amongst other district education and curriculum concerns.
SAM Labs is excited to release a free, fully-comprehensive ebook dedicated to helping administrators, educators and their teams build out a coding program aligned to district or school’s technology plans. This ebook is full of resources, tips and tricks and examples that will catapult planning phases forward.
So sit down, grab a cup of coffee and check out a sneak preview of what “The Handbook Series: Implementing a District-Wide Coding Program” has to offer. (Or skip straight to downloading your free copy here!)
The first portion of the ebook will take you through aligning your computer science coding program to the goals of your school or district’s mission. Once you do this, you can easily outline your program’s goals.
Goals in any technology or curriculum plan are defined as specific intentions aligned to your program’s vision that don’t adhere to a timeline.
These differ from objectives, which are usually task-focused and can be assigned to team members or departments and be tracked against metrics.
An example goal for your coding program could look like:
Goal 1: Integrate coding where appropriate to facilitate computational-thinking skills, communication skills and collaboration for students throughout the curriculum to improve student achievement and prepare them for post-secondary education or the future workforce.
Then, once you have defined your goal, you can outline objectives that will help you reach it, such as:
Objective 1: Teachers will use best-in-class, CSTA standards-aligned curricular resources to educate students in becoming problem solvers, critical- and computational-thinkers.
The most important thing you can do is make sure your plan includes ways that coding will not only be implemented, but how it will help achieve your school or district’s mission. Our ebook covers more examples and tips on how you can seamlessly integrate the two.
Picking A Winning Team and Planning for Your Program’s Future
Proper program planning can’t be done by an army of one, even if we’d like to think it can! That’s where assembling a team and planning how that team will work together comes into play. This was a particular challenge in one case for a New York State superintendent who wished she had more time to get to know her faculty before assessing their use of technology in the classroom. She was more concerned with performance on reading assessments than with technology integration. Whereas in other schools the majority of teachers had already integrated technology into the classroom, and were therefore more ready to assist with advanced education technology planning.
Coding programs are often left to technology teams themselves, but there are many other avenues for collaboration that should not be overlooked. Departments should work together to ensure cross-collaboration, especially when incorporating a new curriculum into a school or district. This means that the Instructional Technology team, Curriculum team, Strategy and Innovation team, Library Media team and even other departments like Title I and after school programming could be included in strategy.
Along with adding team members from other departments, it may be a good idea to include:
- Support staff, such as coordinators
With all of these unique voices committed to making your program a success and a combined wheelhouse of knowledge that can complement multiple angles of expertise, your program is much more likely to succeed.
The last, and arguably the most important part of your strategy, should be committing to regular planning.
Choosing the Right Technology, Product and Professional Development for Your Coding Program
Your school or district may currently have some devices, but you may know that you need more to correctly implement a computer science coding program. Additionally, a proper coding program requires heavy vetting of educational technology products that make teaching programming concepts easy for educators and accessible to students.
Where many programs also fail is looking at the professional development aspect of product purchases, and how it differs from customer onboarding.
Customer onboarding is training provided by a product vendor that allows your staff the opportunity to train using the product and helps your school or district set up vital infrastructure to make sure the product will work when deployed.
Professional development complements customer onboarding, but takes training deeper for staff by introducing pedagogy both around the product and expanding around key concepts for computer science and coding.
Administrators should never purchase a product for a program without first finding out if there are additional professional development options available beyond the initial training from the vendor. This is because educational technology products are often designed with pedagogy in mind, and having your staff equipped with the knowledge behind the design of the product will make their teaching that much more effective.
Need inspiration? Our ebook dives into how you can inventory your own district devices, where to look for additional funds, how to best evaluate your coding program product options and what pedagogical concepts you should look for in professional development training.
Measuring Success with KPIs to Inform Your Timeline and Budget
The last step in implementing your program comes with proving results, and results come with data! Data can be gathered from Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.
A KPI is defined as a measurable value to see if you are meeting an objective and as important for technology programs as businesses. According to a PwC report, ‘Key performance indicators (KPIs), both financial and non-financial, are an important component of the information needed to explain a company’s progress towards its stated goals, for all of these types of narrative reporting.
While data may seem difficult to accumulate, especially at a school or district-wide level, it’s not impossible. From technology to curriculum to budget, there are many ways that you can measure your institution’s current position to inform your program’s growth, your necessary budget or adaptations needed to future resources.
Our ebook contains a comprehensive worksheet to help you design your own KPIs, map out your own budget and choose the timeline that works best for you.
Download the Full District Coding Ebook For Many More Resources
You’re on your way to something great! Offering a coding program to your staff and students is helping pave the way to a future that gives your learners a leg up in the future workforce, their higher education and will empower your staff to teach with incredible technology.
Our free ebook contains many more resources for implementing your coding program, including dozens of examples on how you can deploy a program of your own, an interactive worksheet and survey to use within your schools to brainstorm your future path forward and tips and tricks every step of the way.
As always, if you need help, feel free to reach out to one of our Education Consultants on the SAM Labs team for help designing your program. We’d love to help you get started!
Written by Eleanor Jacobson
I'm an edtech writer who's passionate about changing the world one classroom at a time. When not spreading the news about the latest in K-12 technology, you'll find me geeking out about the latest startups or video games and adding to my '80s toy collection.