PurposeThe purpose of this exploratory article is to review and discuss the varied ways computer programming is introduced to schools and families as a new form of learning. The paper examines the rhetoric around coding within academic journals and popular media articles over the past three decades. This article argues that despite the best intentions of media researchers and enthusiasts, if the rhetoric around computer science in all K-12 schools is to become a reality, there first needs to be a greater focus on monitoring such rhetoric and better understanding exactly how programming is presented to the wider public. Design/methodology/approachThis paper represents an analysis of 67 peer-reviewed books and journal articles as well as news articles and editorials related to students’ learning (or needing to learn) computer programming on the K-12 level. In terms of criteria for inclusion, in addition to publication date and article readership, there were three considerations: (a) the article needed to focus on computer science on the K-12 grade levels; (2) the article needed to focus on introductory computer programming initiatives, rather than more advanced courses/ topics); (3) the article needed to specifically focus on school-based learning environments. FindingsFindings point to three distinct ways in which introductory coding initiatives have been portrayed (and been perceived): new literacy, “grounded” math, and technical skill. Ultimately, the paper does not propose a single defining metaphor. Rather it argues that the metaphors one selects matter considerably in determining programming’s future in entering (or not entering) schools, and that educators need to make a conscientious effort to consider multiple metaphors without choosing just one.Research limitations/implicationsIn terms of research limitations, the article does not purport to be an exhaustive analysis of all the metaphors that have been used to introduce computer science to K-12 schools over the past thirty years. Rather it only identifies the leading metaphors from the literature, and in doing so, makes an important first step in examining the role of metaphor in the presentation of computer science as a "new" course of study. Practical implicationsThe article is intended for educators, researchers, and administrators to gain a better understanding of what computer science is (and could be) for K-12 schooling.Originality/valueThere is currently considerable discussion about teaching computer science in all U.S. high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools. There is however little examination of past attempts to bring CS into K-12 schools and what these attempts may inform current advocacy.
On the Horizon – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 8, 2016