‘Programming’ Broken Arrow’s next generation for technology


By Brittany Harlow, Contributing Writer

The technology world in which we live continues to grow, as evidenced in items relating to coding education, plagiarism-detecting software and other online tech approved by the Broken Arrow Board of Education.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for computer programmers is expected to decline by 10% over the next 10 years. But don’t let that drop fool you. BLS expects there will be 9.6K new computer programming openings every year over the next decade as well, from people who either leave the coding field or retire.

On the flipside, BLS predicts information technology will be one of the fastest growing industries over the next decade, estimated at 1%. Some of those IT jobs will include programmers, who create software for complex computer systems.

In summary, developers are and will remain in high demand.

A bachelor’s degree in computer programming with knowledge of numerous languages is the surest way to enter the coding field, and Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) is readying the next generation to rise to the occasion.

The School Board renewed the first year of a 3-year $63,000 contract between BAPS and Tynker for an online platform that teaches middle school and high school students how to code through using video games.

Executive Director of Secondary Instruction Sharon James said the district has had a contract with Tynker for the last three years.

“It is extremely important that we continue to grow the skillset of our students in technology and coding, due to the workforce demands in this career field,” James said.

Tynker has been teaching children to code nationwide for 10 years. Their website says their goal is to ensure that every high school graduate has been exposed to formal coding education by 2033.

BAPS curriculum currently includes language education of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python.

And coding education isn’t the only funding for technology approved at Monday night’s meeting. The school board also renewed the third year of a 3-year $23K agreement with Turnitin for plagiarism check software for secondary students.

As attention grows around artificial intelligence-generated writing, like chatbot ChatGPT, schools around the nation are determining how to block it and even embrace it.

OpenAI, the makers of the chatbot ChatGPT, recently announced their development of an additional tool to help distinguish between human-written text and their bot-written text.

Meanwhile, a school district in Cobb County, Georgia, may be eyeing how to use ChatGPT to support student learning.

As attention grows around artificial intelligence-generated writing, we asked BAPS what they are doing to both combat nefarious use and embrace its positive aspects.

James told us they are continuing to explore different options to ensure the validity of students’ work or writing, while at the same time helping them understand how any type of software needs to be used appropriately.

“We currently use Turnitin and we have a presentation with the company NoRedInk in a few weeks,” James said. “We are in discussions with other educators in other states about what they are using or what plans they have to minimize the impact of software such as ChatGPT. In addition, our Advanced Placement teachers have been sharing their concerns about ChatGPT and they have been working to stay informed on how best to manage the impact of this type of software.”

Other technology approvals at the School Board’s meeting this week included three new digital curriculum agreements; Imagine Learning for students in 3rd through 8th grade, Learning A-Z for Pre-k through 6th grade, and Cengage Learning to teach online forensic science and virtual labs.

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