Bringing a New Discipline on Board

Bringing a New Discipline on Board

In June of 2016 Massachusetts approved a new curriculum Digital Literacy and Computer Science, and shortly the new 5-12 teaching license in DL & CS will be available. I am not sure if I have wrapped my head around the real implications of these new standards. Schools have not added a new discipline to the K-12 curriculum in centuries. People tend to focus on the computer science aspect of the curriculum but it is Digital Literacy and Computer Science in fact the DL standards out number the CS.

If you take a look at the DESE STEM website DL & CS is on par with Mathematics and Science. A closer look at the frameworks themselves reveals the importance placed on these standards not at all the same as the 2008 Technology Literacy Standards they replaced.

For Example:

In Dr Chester’s forward he writes, “… the ability to effectively use and manipulate technology to solve complex problems is the new literacy …”

“…digital literacy and computer science programs should provide the necessary interventions and support for those student who are below or above grade-level expectations.” (p 4)

“To facilitate planning, a district coordinator or administrator should be involved in articulating, coordinating, and implementing a district wide (K-12) DLCS curriculum.” “ … middle and high school course be taught by teachers who are certified…” (p. 6)

This framework is not an after thought or ‘would be nice’; it is a new content area a discipline which needs to be added to an already full K-12 educational structure. Many of the standards K-5 can be readily integrated into existing curriculum. But teachers who have not been formally exposed to these areas need support and resources to implement them. Once you reach the depth of knowledge required at the 5-12 grade levels fewer standards can be added to existing curriculum and standalone classes will need to be developed, staffed and offered to students.

How do school districts do this in an effective and efficient way? This is clearly an addition not a replacement for an existing area of instruction. I am very glad to see the standards created and recognized for their importance in modern education. I am just a little overwhelmed at the task at hand yet very excited to see what DL & CS education looks like in Massachusetts in the coming year.

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