ISTIC Training Workshop on Computer Science Education

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A training workshop on Computer Science Education was organized by International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation under the auspices of UNESCO (ISTIC), Kuala Lumpur in collaboration with La main a la pate Foundation (LAMAP) of France from 23-27 October 2017 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There were 25 participants (10 international, 15 local/Malaysian) from Cambodia, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Namibia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Assistant Director ECOSF Mr. Ghulam Abbas participated as an invitee from ECOSF. It is pertinent to mention that ECOSF and ISTIC are collaborators/partners in various STI programmes.

The main objective of the training workshop was to provide necessary knowledge and skills on computer scienceto the participants through ‘unplugged’ and ‘plugged' activities and apply these into pedagogical activities.

The workshop was opened by Dr. Rusminibinti Ku Ahmad, Deputy Rector, Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia representing the Director General of Education Malaysia. In her remarks, she appreciated the activities of ISTIC especially promotion of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) Malaysia. She mentioned the support of Malaysian Government to ISTIC and education sector.  She wished that the international participants will take maximum benefit of the workshop and enjoy the stay in Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier, Dato Dr. Sharifah Maimunah Syed Zin, Director ISTIC passed the opening remarks and welcomed all the guests of five day workshop. She also introduced Dr. David Wilgenbus of LAMAP as a facilitator of the workshop who solely imparted the training through a tight schedule.

Later, Dr. David Wilgenbus in his remarks gave an overview of the workshop and its outlines. He mentioned that as a trainer of LAMAP he has developed a project called “1,2,3…Codez” based on Computer Science Education through IBSE which is implemented in the system of LAMAP by ateam led by him. He further mentioned that the project is specifically designed for robotics computer education which will be learned in five days through different techniques.

Dato Dr. Ir. Lee Yee Cheong, Honorary Chairman of ISTIC and Member of UNESCO Broadband Commission also addressed and talked about Digital Disruptive Revolution and said that it is the time of digital technologies and defined that the digital disruption is the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services. He emphasized that awareness about the Digital Literacy Model is mandatory and inevitable. He advised the participants to go for the digital education. He hoped that the workshop will open new ideas for the participants to be imparted in respective countries.

Computer science is now considered as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subject in the broad sense and is being introduced in many countries as a stand-alone subject in the curriculum. The impetus to introduce this subject in the curriculum mainly arises from the technological development as we move into the digital age, in which our lives and just about everything is associated with software. While the future will certainly be a world with interactive screens, the number of people writing the software required by these ever growing screens is not increasing. Computer Science is designed to train the mind towards thinking logically and creatively to solve a problem. Coding teaches logic skills and problem solving and this will assist children to succeed in the digital world. Programming algorithm describes the exact steps that tell the computer to solve problems. It is reported that more and more jobs in the future require coding skills and that programming jobs are growing at a rapid rate. Hence there is need to include learning to write and read code and programming in the school syllabus based on IBSE.

During the workshop, Mr. Wilgenbus who was the facilitator gave a presentation and defined Robotics. Different activities based on unplugged (theoretical) and plugged (practical) were performed. Algorithm is a pivotal part of computer programming and based on the algorithm, the programming is made. Keeping in view its importance, the basic concept of the Algorithm and its development was elaborated. The participants learnt to develop it. An introduction of the Robotics was given to the participants and different computer programmes on Robotics were performed and developed by the participants and the Facilitators. An introduction of Robotics programming software was also made by the Facilitator and different programme software such as Scratch, Thymio, etc. were demonstrated. The initial robotics programming was also written in those softwares.

Ms. Michelina Nascimbeni, Resource Person of LAMAP also gave a talk on Pilot Centers of LAMAP. She beautifully defined the purpose of Pilot Centers and their how the teachers get benefit from them. She said that the Pilot Centers also train the local teachers and provide them scientific material for demonstration of small scientific activities to the students at the schools. She also said that if needed, the teachers can borrow scientific material from the Centers. The students are also brought to the Centers for engaging in various scientific activities.

On the last day of the workshop, a session was dedicated for posters presentation where the participants gave introduction of their posters related to science education in their respective countries. Assistant Director ECOSF also presented a poster covering the activities of the Foundation and some statistics of Computer Education and Information Technology of Pakistan.

The workshop was concluded by Dato Dr. Samsudin Tugiman, Chairman ISTIC Governing Board. He, in his concluding remarks, thanked the LAMAP team for their untiring work during the workshop and appreciated the active participation of the participants in week long workshop. He hoped that the participants will further impart the learning in their systems. Finally, the certificates were distributed among the participants and the workshop was called off.

Recommendation: Computer Science is now considered as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subject in the broad sense and is being introduced in many countries as a stand-alone subject in the curriculum, thus, ECOSF may also include this subject in workshops to be organized for promotion of IBSE in ECO region.

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