Happy Computer Science Education Week! Maybe you had the chance to join one of the 155,000+ CS Ed Week/Hour of Code events worldwide? Undoubtedly, 2016 has been a significant year for expanding computer science education. In the US:
- The Association for Computing Machinery, Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, the Cyber Innovation Center, and the National Math and Science Initiative collaborated with states, districts, and the computer science education community to develop and launch the new K–12 Computer Science Framework.
- In fall 2016, the College Board launched its newest AP® course Computer Science Principles. In development
since 2008 with support from the National Science Foundation, the new course introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world. Last summer Code.org trained 500 teachers and expects 12,000+ students to enroll in the course during this school year – with roughly half of the students members of groups traditionally under-represented in STEM.
- A report released by the Afterschool Alliance this week noted that 43% of afterschool programs currently offer computing education, although an overwhelming majority are interested in doing so. Program directors identified the value of statewide afterschool networks in expanding afterschool computing education by building the capacity of afterschool educators; connecting programs to resources; facilitating professional development opportunities; and building relationships with industry partners.
Longtime STEM Next partner New York City-based ExpandED schools offers a few examples of what dynamic cross-sector partnerships focused on computer science can accomplish:
- A 2015 partnership with 11 schools called Connect 2 Tech trained of teams of teachers and community educators to jointly lead 14 weeks of creative computing and coding activities for nearly 300 students in school-based after-school
- A 2016 partnership with the New York City Department of Education supported ExpandED to train New York City teachers in creative computing, basic coding and computational concepts. The ExpandED informal educators were later hired as CS professional development experts by the department.
- A 2016 partnership with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development has enabled ExpandED to offer a full-year computer science/technology institute to staff of 14 after-school programs.
The richness, variety and innovation of STEM-related partnerships in New York City is due in part to the NYC STEM Education Network, a member of the STEM Next-supported STEM ecosystems initiative.
As computer science education becomes fundamental to preparing our young people to problem-solve, innovate, and access careers in and beyond the fast-growing technology sector, cross-sector collaborations like these offer solutions to key issues facing the field.
Young people need time, space, resources and access to excellent teachers and mentors. They need opportunities that will nurture their leadership skills and creative spark. The field needs scalable and affordable ways to train teachers and community educators, and attention must be paid to expanding opportunities equitably to ensure that everyone– regardless of gender, geography, race, ethnicity, or family income – can bring their talents to bear. STEM Next’s support for system-building organizations, such as statewide afterschool networks, citywide intermediaries, and the STEM ecosystems initiative, is helping to catalyze sustainable solutions to these issues. We encourage you to learn more about these initiatives, and if you haven’t yet tried the Hour of Code, you can do so here. Happy coding!