How New Brunswick Implemented its Computer Science Education Program

[ad_1] Computer Science Education (CS) helps students develop skills such as computational thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, among others. It has been linked to higher rates of college enrollment, and (Brown & Brown, 2020; Salehi


Computer Science Education (CS) helps students develop skills such as computational thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, among others. It has been linked to higher rates of college enrollment, and (Brown & Brown, 2020; Salehi et al., 2020) a recent study of randomized controlled trials also found that computer thinking lessons improved inhibition of student response, planning and coding skills (Arfé et., 2020). As these skills take preeminence in the rapidly evolving 21st century, computer science education promises to dramatically improve students’ preparation for the future of work and active citizenship. Computer science education can also reduce skills inequalities if education systems make a concerted effort to ensure that all students have equitable access to programs that provide them with the range of necessary skills, regardless of gender, their ethnic origin or socio-economic status.

Based on a prior analysis and expert consultation, we have selected 11 case studies of computer education in countries, states and provinces from which we can draw lessons that can be widely applied. to other education systems. These cases come from various regions and global circumstances and have implemented computer education programs for various time periods and at different levels of success. As such, we reviewed the information to draw lessons that could lead to a successful implementation.

This study will examine how New Brunswick seeks to improve and expand its computer education activities to train a future workforce that can thrive during the economic transition and support the emerging technology sector in the province of Canada. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) and various stakeholder organizations aim to empower all students to learn computer science and apply their lessons in a creative and collaborative environment.

An Overview of Computer Science Education in New Brunswick

The New Brunswick education system placed an early emphasis on computers during a period in the 1970s and 1980s that dissipated over the next decade. Then, in the early 2000s, DEECD decided to refocus its curriculum on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, including information and communication technologies. This brought the necessary infrastructure and knowledge of digital technologies to schools that would later pave the way for compulsory computer science courses in 2017.

DEECD has taken up the challenge of deploying computer science education for students of two distinct language groups. Primary teachers in the English-speaking sector were encouraged to integrate computer science and computational thinking as interdisciplinary subjects, while the French-speaking sector had no obligation to offer either of these subjects in the primary schools. All junior high school students, whether English or French, take computer classes that emphasize programming skills. In addition, both language systems offer more advanced computer courses in upper secondary education as electives.

Organizations, such as Brilliant Labs and the flagship national coding initiative CanCode, introduce K-12 students to computers through classroom and after-school activities. This allows students to apply their computer science lessons during hands-on classroom lessons.

Lessons learned

  • Computer science education should be provided to both English and French speaking education systems, as DEECD attempts to meet the needs of students of each language group.
  • Computing activities encourage students to find creative and practical uses of digital technologies that can spark interest in computing. In particular, makerspaces, customizable learning spaces that allow students to develop their own projects, have created an interactive and collaborative environment that has produced positive learning outcomes.
  • DEECD works in close collaboration with NGO partners, drawing on their resources to involve students. This includes providing after-school programs, summer camps and even activities with integrated CS as an interdisciplinary subject.
  • Teachers can use communities of practice to share information on how to help students from different backgrounds learn about computers.

Read the full case study >>