Program insufficient for major STEM field

Computer science curriculum flawed, needs revision to fit future careers

By Jacob Parnell

As our country continues into the digital age, computer science and engineering careers are one of the fastest growing job markets in America.

So you’d think that LHS would be expanding its information technology courses to include more for students who want to go into this field, but they are not.

I have taken every information technology course this school has to offer, and I can say that these courses are not satisfactory for students planning on going into computer science.

Let’s begin with the course material. In Web Page Design, we only learn the basics of HTML (the standard markup language for developing web pages) from a 15-year-old textbook without learning about other essential web languages such as CSS and JavaScript. Technology advances too fast to learn from a textbook, let alone a 15-year-old book. Halfway through the semester, we start fresh in Adobe Dreamweaver ­— what we should have been working with from the beginning of the semester.

In Software Development, we began by learning Visual Basic (a programming language that is not widely used) and then began learning C++ (a more popular programming language) halfway through the course. But then in Game Development, we began the course by starting with C++, again, at square one.

And then in AP Computer Science we began a new programming language, Java, from the basics without revisiting the other languages we learned before.

The structure of all of the computer classes makes little sense for becoming proficient at using multiple computer languages — languages that anyone who is going into computer science should know.

The coding activities we do in class are straight out of a textbook most of the time. In Software Development and AP Computer Science, we had to think in order to figure out the assignments for the most part, but in Web Page Design and Game Development, all of our activities consisted of copying code straight from a textbook. Because of this, students were not comprehending the material, so when we made our own programs for the final assignment, many students had no idea what to do.

So what would make it better?

I would get rid of the courses Intro to IT and Game Development. Intro to IT simply teaches you about Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint — programs everyone learned in middle school. Game Development can be integrated into Software Development.

With these two open options, I would replace them with Software Development II and Web Design II. These classes could expand on material learned in already-existing classes. I would then hire teachers who are experts in computer science that can better help students when they need it.

Then I would change the curriculum so that the teachers teach us the subject rather than letting us read out of books. Also the assignments in these classes should require students to create their own codes opposed to just copying them so students better comprehend how the programs work.

The current computer science curriculum is not OK. Students will take these courses not because they want to enter computer science, but because they want an easy A which leaves a void for the students who are interested in the field unfilled.

And though the new College and Career Center will offer advanced computer courses, the program at LHS needs to fit students for the career paths of their choice.