Enrollment in computer science and other IT programs has been steadily declining since 2000. According to the
The Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Skills (CCICT) the challenges our industry faces are:
Projected increases in demand for skilled ICT resources exceed current and anticipated supply.
Women remain under-represented in technology fields and their perspective and talent is essential to maximize the sector’s potential.
Timely, accurate ICT labour market information – highlighting future career and job opportunities – is not currently available to teachers, students and parents.
Misconceptions about the nature of ICT jobs abound and discourage enrolment in ICT courses.
High school courses do not include information about technology and technology-related careers in non-technology specific subject areas. Without guidance and exposure to inspiring ICT role models, students make uninformed decisions about their course choices
and future careers.
A relatively small window of opportunity – the high school and university years are when we can make a positive impact on tomorrow’s national ICT skills shortage. It is essential to get the message out.
We are partnering with UNB's CSSquare to potentially create a 1 or 2 hour workshop to introduce programming to non-programmers using
MIT's App Inventor for creating mobile Android applications. We are still very early in the planning stage, but stay tuned for more information.
App Inventor for Android is an application originally provided by Google, and now maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It allows anyone familiar with computer programming to create software applications for the Android operating
system (OS). It uses a graphical interface, very similar to Scratch and the StarLogo TNG user interface, that allows users to drag-and-drop visual objects to create an application that can run on the Android system, which runs on many mobile devices.
Essentially, the intention is to introduce students/individuals (high school students, students in other faculties) to computer science concepts using an easily understood medium with the result of cultivating an interest in programming.
We want to spread the CCICT's message that:
New technologies bring innovation to everything – the environment, health care, entertainment, shopping, mobility, our social lives and more. And it’s tech professionals who make all this happen. Today’s tech and tech-related careers are interesting, fun,
cool and creative. They pay well and are in high demand.
With App Inventor, we can introduce somewhat complex concepts using a simple drag and drop "language" for creating mobile applications for the Android platform. In a relatively short period of time the students can get the "rush" from taking a concept or
idea to making something that works.
Curriculum content has been made available, so we just need to trim it down to an effective 1 or 2 hour session. We have presented this project to some interested students as part of
CSSquare Project Opportunities, hopefully, we will have some student volunteers through the program there.
How can you help?
Android Devices - Although it is possible to use the emulator with App Inventor, the real thrill of development comes from seeing your newly developed application running on an actual device with the benefit of the sensor capabilities (GPS,
Accelerometer, Orientation, Etc). If you have an old Android device that still works (Android 2.2 or later preferably) we would graciously accept the donation. We do not need a data plan, although wifi capable is a must.
Volunteers - If you would like to help us create a curriculum, facilitate a workshop, etc then please drop us a line matt[at]frederictonug.net or cssquare[at]unb.ca.
Check out this video about the program at the University of San Francisco lead by Professor David Wolber.
Do you want to give MIT's App Inventor a try. Do that here:
http://cssquare.ca/ - UNB's CSSquare
http://ccict.ca/ - The Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Skills (CCICT)
http://www.cbc.ca/spark/episodes/2011/10/21/spark-159-october-23-26-2011/ - CBC Radio program "Spark" check out the segment "Computer Class Cancelled"