2015 has been an amazing year for the CSER group at the University of Adelaide. We started the year with the Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies learning area stalled in parliament, with no idea of if or when it might be approved. This was a difficult time for educators across Australia, as individual teacher organisations and state departments were unclear as to whether they should push forward with preparing for the new curriculum changes or not.
Unsurprisingly, though, interest in teaching Digital Technologies did not disappear from the agenda, though, with many teachers wanting to learn more about what they would be teaching in the future, one way or another! We launched our second and third offerings of the CSER Foundation-6 MOOC this year, and also launched our new MOOC for teachers of years 7 & 8. Members of the CSER group were active in supporting local teacher associations across Australia, delivering keynotes in SA and beyond, workshops, and working with Australian press on understanding the impact of the upcoming curriculum changes. It was exciting to see the CSER MOOCs highlighted as resources in the ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse report and the Office of the Chief Scientist’s position paper on transforming STEM teaching in Australia!
At the start of this year, we were also busy working on our Introductory programming MOOC, Think Create Code. We are really excited about this course, as we are have adopted the same Media Computation approach that we use in our on-campus course. We use Processing, and have built an EdX extension module to support an open art gallery where students can share their work, explore others and discuss. We will be using this course as part of our future on-campus offerings as well, allowing us to focus more of our in class time on working closely with our students. We launched Think Create Code in April, and ended up working with over 20,000 students from 177 countries. It was amazing to see the work of our students, and to see a fantastic blending between the artistic and computer science communities. The course now runs as a self-paced course open to all.
We started the year at ACE in January, where we were able to catch up on work from our local CS Education colleagues, and also presenting an update on our CSER MOOC work, and some of the results of our ALTA project collaboration with Monash and Newcastle. In May, we attended the ICSE conference in Florence, where we presented our work on understanding Self Regulated learning strategies in Computer Science and Software Engineering, and demonstrated our Teamwork Analysis Dashboard, which can be used to automatically observe teamwork and collaboration success in online teams.
We then moved on to ITiCSE in July to present some more recent research results, including the first publication from our new collaboration with our Gender Studies area on understanding more about female participation in Computer Science. In August, we attended ICER, where I was able to take some time to learn about new advances in the area, and to catch up on recent changes in K-12 education in New Zealand and Scotland.
Just before the year closed, ACARA announced that the Digital Technologies learning area was approved! This was a great way to end the year, along with indications of significant government support for teacher development to come in 2016.
We closed the year by attending Google’s third partner summit for those working across Australia in the Digital Technologies space. We were able to catch up with colleagues from the CS4HS programs at various Universities across Australia and New Zealand, and to hear latest updates from our friends at CSUnplugged, First, NCSS and other areas. It was a brilliant end to the year, and also a learning experience, as we were able to work through Google’s new unconscious bias training, which they have made available as open source!
Now that 2016 has started, I’m in the process of planning the year ahead, which promises to be full of interesting projects and collaborations. I’ll update more soon!