Oklahoma has done a lot of work in recent years to introduce computer science education to K12 classrooms. The importance of doing so cannot be underrated given that the state has about 3,000 job openings every month that require these skills, and we are graduating too few young adults in this degree field. One of the many challenges in this area is explaining to people that computer science education isn’t just about sitting behind a computer and coding. Computer science teaches critical and algorithmic thinking skills to students in an environment with which they are incredibly familiar. Young students begin this work usually with just pencil and paper, learning causation and systems thinking. Older students build on these skills to learn how to be creators, not just consumers of technology.
Computer science skills can be integrated into any classroom, and Oklahoma does not require a teacher to be specifically credentialed in the area. Without targeted support, the task of teaching computer science or integrating it in the classroom can be daunting.
The map above shows districts and schools that offer computer science. It is important to look at metrics regarding equity, including offerings for low-income and racially and ethnically diverse student populations. Statistically, students in these categories are less likely to have access to rapidly changing technology in their homes, which greatly limits their exposure to the expanding and lucrative computer science field. Districts with proportionately large populations of underserved students are also less likely to have reliable internet access, technology and teachers specifically trained in teaching computer science skills.