Due to advancements in digital and technological innovation, people with skills in Computer Science, coding, digital literacy, and computational thinking have become integral to our workplaces and to our society. As a result, 9 in 10 Canadians think that it is important to learn Computer Science.
Yet, despite this broad support for Computer Science education, there exists few opportunities for students to formally learn these skills in school. In Canada, only four out of 13 provinces and territories have mandated teaching these skills in their curricula in some form. Consequently, many teachers and NGOs are filling the gap, offering Computer Science workshops as in-class activities and extracurricular programming.
While these much-needed initiatives are important, the lack of coordination and standardization across approaches has led to significant inequities in learning outcomes both within provinces and across the country.
It is critical that all Canadian students be able to learn these skills. This is especially important among groups that have traditionally struggled to access Computer Science courses and who are often underrepresented in industry, namely women, visible minorities, indigenous people, and people living in rural and remote areas.
The Framework will be a high-level document that outlines the values, principles, and ideas that will shape Computer Science learning across Canada. The Framework will also clarify key terms associated with Computer Science, outline the skills and attributes learners can acquire at different grade levels, and ultimately provide high-level guidance that provincial and territorial governments can refer to to inform their individual curriculum development.
Although there are many definitions for the term, Computer Science generally refers to the study of computers. This includes how computers process information, how their hardware is made, how software is programmed and how using computers have impacted our society.
Although closely linked, Computer Science is different from other aspects of computing, such as computer literacy and digital literacy. While computer and digital literacy requires that students understand how to use computers and the internet, Computer science emphasizes understanding how computers work and allows people to both consumers and creators of new technologies.
As a subject taught in school, Computer Science might include a number of different topics, such as:
Canada Learning Code is leading the development of the Framework. Canada Learning Code is a national charity that designs, delivers, and partners on technology education for Canadians.
Canada Learning Code began this process in November 2018 by convening over 30 representatives from provincial and territorial governments, non-profit organizations that teach Computer Science to children and teachers, curriculum writers, and academics. Over the course of the forum, this group of people worked together to make recommendations on who should be involved in building a Pan-Canadian K-12 Computer Science Education Framework as well as what should be included in it.
Although many people think that the term coding and Computer Science are interchangeable, they are not. Coding is an element of Computer Science education. It represents a set of instructions that are given to a computer in order to execute a certain task. Code is extremely versatile and can be used to control robots, build webpages, create video games, analyze large datasets and more.
Coding is important it allows students to create technology—not just consume it. That being said, coding is not the only element of Computer Science learning.
In Canada, education policy is a provincial and territorial issue, meaning province and territory creates their own curriculum. As a result, Computer Science is taught differently across the country.
In some cases, Computer Science is integrated into other courses such as math and business. In other cases, Computer Science is taught as a stand-alone subject. Some provinces and territories require all students to take Computer Science courses, while others offer them as electives.
A Framework would articulate a pan-Canadian vision for Computer Science and thus needs to be broad and flexible in order to meet the needs of our country’s 13 provinces and territories.
There are many ways to get involved!
First, we always welcome any comments, suggestions, or ideas that you might have about Computer Science education. You can submit them to us online here.
Second, we’ve organized a number of engagement activities throughout the year, which you can participate in.
We’re always looking for more people to talk to and learn from! You can send us your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org