How Chile implemented its computer science education program

Computer Science Education (CS) helps students develop skills such as computational thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. It has been associated with higher college enrollment rates (Brown & Brown, 2020; Salehi, Wang, Toorawa and Wieman, 2020), and a recent randomized controlled trial showed that computational thinking lessons improved inhibition of student response, planning, and coding skills (Arfé et al., 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 inequality if education systems make a concerted effort to ensure that all students have equitable access to programs that provide them with the range of skills they need, regardless of their gender. , their ethnic origin or their socio-economic status.

Based on prior analyzes and expert consultations, we have selected 11 national, state and provincial case studies on computer science education with 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 during different 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 particular study will examine how Chile is training a future workforce of creative problem solvers to maintain its status as one of the high income countries in Latin America. To achieve this goal, the Ministry of Education designed the National plan for digital languages prepare students to be competitive in an increasingly digital global economy. Now in the early stages of implementing this plan, the government is looking to increase the number of students learning computer science and computational thinking in the years to come.

An overview of computer science education in Chile

Chile has been preparing its schools, teachers and students for computer education for many years. The federal education program, Enlaces, introduced digital devices and Internet connectivity to almost all schools in the 1990s and early 2000s. Although this infrastructure was not originally designed for students. computer classes, educators have used these devices for computer science and computer thinking classes for the past few years. More recently still, the Innovation Center of the Ministry of Education and partner NGOs have also set up programs and set up online platforms to train teachers in computational thinking, programming and learning. project-based learning (Jara et al., 2018). Even without forcing schools to adopt any of these activities, the government estimates that around half of primary schools will offer computer thinking classes by 2022. Yet despite the efforts of the Ministry of Education and its partners, computer science education in Chile has not developed as expected.

Lessons learned

  • Although Enlaces gained more political and financial support over time, it lost the flexibility to implement new projects. This may have delayed the progress of computer science education.
  • The Ministry of Education relies on private companies and non-profit partners for their expertise in teacher training and student engagement activities. However, regular funding and stable training programs, including for pre-service teachers, are needed for better and more widely available computer education.
  • Chile does not require schools to teach computer science, but encourages and supports educators who wish to include the subjects in their classroom activities. While this mitigates the possibility of alienating teachers who are unfamiliar with the subject, it also risks low-scale and uneven access to computer science education.

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