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December 30, 2013

CSTA Awards Chapter Advocacy Mini Grants

Recently, CSTA completed the first round of CSTA chapter advocacy mini grants. These mini grants were given to local chapters for activities focusing on affecting public policy at the state or local level. Successful mini grants included one given to CSTA chapters in New Jersey and Maryland. Funding for the mini grant project was generously provided to CSTA by the ACM SIG Governing Board.

Mini grant applications required chapter applicants to identify advocacy goals and objectives for the proposed project and provide a description of how those goals and objectives would be carried achieved. Applicants were also asked to devise an evaluation plan t measure whether or not those goals were achieved. Applicants were further required to identify the population the project would serve as well as any collaborative efforts with outside agencies or institutions that would be leveraged during the program. Finally, participants were asked provide a detailed project budget.

All mini grant applications were forwarded to a grant committee consisting of five CSTA members. These members carefully read each proposal and rated it according to a rubric which included the likelihood that the project could be replicated by other chapters. All the ratings were combined and then discussed during a conference call of all committee members in early December. The grant awards winners were notified by December 5.

The CSTA Northern New Jersey (CSTANNJ), CSTA Central New Jersey (CSTACNJ) and CSNJ (an outreach project of CSTANNJ and CSTACNJ) were awarded a $3000 grant. The New Jersey chapters plan to partner with Rutgers University and Kean University in October 2014 to create an informational both and presentation at the New Jersey School Boards Association conference. The presentation will focus on the state of Computer Science in New Jersey and the impact of CS on student achievement and future career prospects. Members of CSTANNJ and CSTACNJ plan to hold meetings with legislators, business leaders, educators, parents, administrators, member of local school boards and other educational professionals to influence the direction of CS education in New Jersey. The New Jersey chapters plan to evaluate their program by asking attendees to evaluate the presentation and tracking the brochures and other materials that are distributed through the project.

CSTA Maryland is partnering with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to use the $1000 mini grant as seed money to hold The Athena Conference (TAC) in May 2014. The Athena Conference's goal is to educate female junior and senior high school students and their parents about careers and majors in computing. TAC hopes to enlist parents as advocates for policy and curriculum changes whereas Computer Science is concerned. TAC plans to use the CSTA mini grant money to provide parallel parent sessions during the conference. CSTA Maryland plans to evaluate their project through pre and post conference surveys to measure the participants' knowledge of and attitudes toward CS education and careers. In an attempt to sustain the conference, CSTA Maryland and UMBC plan to put together a planning tool kit that would allow other chapters to host their own TAC event.

Round two of the mini grant application process is currently underway. Chapter leaders can create applications for $1000, $3000 and $5000 mini grants through January 6, 2014.

Dave Burkhart
CSTA Chapter MIni Grant Awards Committee

Posted by cstephenson at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2013

Overcoming the Isolation of the Computer Science Teacher

This morning I had a conversation with the other computer science teacher at my school. I told him I wasn't sure what to use for an exercise for my students in Explorations in Computer Science class. This is a brand new course for our school and we are still figuring it all out. I teach 2 sections of it and Tom, the other teacher, teaches three sections of this one semester course. Tom showed me a project he gave to one of his sections yesterday and it looked great so I asked for a copy. He agreed and asked for a copy of the quiz I had given my sections in return.

Like many CS teachers, I teach multiple courses and brand new courses (all three of my preps are new to me this year) can be especially challenging. Fortunately I have someone in the building to help me. Tom and I discuss projects, quizzes, tests, and everything else about our courses. It is a huge help. I know that I have it better than many though.

In most subjects in high school there are several, sometimes many, teachers who are teaching in the same department. Often there are several teachers teaching different sections of the same course. This is more often not the case in computer science. For every teacher I talk to who has other CS teachers in his/her school, there are many more who are the only CS teacher in the building. Sometimes the only CS teacher in a district. It is hard to explain just how difficult that can make things.

Local CSTA chapters can help with some of this isolation. CSTA is working with teachers and university faculty across the US to help establish and support chapters. Increasingly CSTA chapters are able to support teachers in many ways. For many, just being part of a community is a big help. A chance to bounce ideas off of other teachers teaching the same subject can be an emotional as well as informational lift. More and more CSTA chapters are providing professional development opportunities as well.

The annual CSTA Conference is another huge community event for Computer Science Educators. Ironically in many cases teachers are able to connect with other teachers who are geographically local to them while away at this conference. This can lead to the growth of new local communities and CSTA chapters.

Community is an important part of overcoming the feeling of isolation many teachers feel. It can require some effort on that part of teachers though. It may mean some travel. It often means some planning and setting community building as a priority. But it is worth the effort. I hope to see you at the annual conference or a CSTA chapter meeting sometime soon.

Alfred Thompson
At-large Member, CSTA Board

Posted by cstephenson at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2013

Code Red: Where are the Women in Computing?

Editor's Note:
This blog piece from our partners at Change the Equation details their recent report on the continued underrepresentation of women in computing, an issue of deep importance to CSTA as we strive to engage all students in the computer science education and workforce pathways.

At Change the Equation, we're issuing a "code red." As STEM educators, students, and enthusiasts across the country begin celebrating Computer Science Education Week, we've taken a step back to examine new data on the problem with our newest Vital Signs brief, Half Empty: As Men Surge Back Into Computing, Women are Left Behind, and the outlook is alarming:

CTE1.jpg

As these figures indicate, the number of women in computing has not only dropped to a mere quarter of the workforce, but its further decline could lead to a disastrous shortage of computer science talent that will fail to keep up with rising global demand.

  • women made up only 25% of the computing workforce in 2011
  • there are 1.7 open computing jobs for everyone unemployed computer science professionals
  • by 2020 it is projected that there will be 1.4 million computing job openings

    The situation with education is just as dire:

  • in 1983, women earned 36% of all computing degree, but by 2012 that fell to just 18%
  • 23% of girls say they have no interest in computer science
  • 0.4% of female college freshmen list STEM as their intended college major

    Worse yet, one of the main contributing factors to this growing issue is a troublesome societal message that women and girls are getting: computing is not for you.

    Luckily, intrepid organizations like Techbridge, Girlstart, she++, and Black Girls Code are working to stem the tide and empower female students to pursue their interests in computing. Their efforts, coupled with vital, 21st-century enhancements to graduation requirements and standards, can breathe new life into the future of women and girls in computer science.

    Claus von Zastrow
    COO/Director of Research
    Change the Equation

    Posted by cstephenson at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

    December 16, 2013

    Remembering Amazing Grace

    In 2009, after significant advocacy work on the part of CSTA and ACM, the United States Congress passed a resolution (H. RES. 558) sponsored by Congressmen Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Jared Polis (D-CO), designating the first week of December as "National Computer Science Education Week." Citing the influence of computing technology as a significant contributor to the U.S. economy and the importance of computer science learning at all educational levels, the resolution called for educators and policymakers to improve computer science education.

    Every year, since the passage of H. RES 558, computer science educators have used Computer Science Education Week (www.csedweek.org) as an opportunity to advocate for the development of "sustainable learning experiences in computer science at all educational levels and encourage students to be exposed to computer science concepts". This year's celebration, which commenced on Monday, December 9, has seen a dramatic increase in the participation rate, due to the joint efforts of CSTA, ACM and Code.org. The clarion call for 2013 included a new effort, Hour of Code, which, as of Friday, December 13, had seen over 13,473,058 participants writing almost 428,5790,679 lines of code!

    While that huge number is an amazing accomplishment, I would like to take the opportunity to also reflect on another important observation for Computer Science Education week, and that is to applaud the efforts of one of America's first female computer scientists, Grace Murray Hopper.

    It is no coincidence that this yearly celebration occurs around her birthday (December 9, 1908). Grace Hopper earned a PhD in mathematics at Yale in 1934, at a time when women simply didn't do such things. She left the faculty of Vassar in 1943, at the age of 37, to join the WAVES, the women's Navy auxiliary. A pioneer in the field, Admiral Hopper went on to work on the team that developed the world's first modern computer, the Harvard Mark I, and pioneered dozens of innovations in computer science over a long career. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is also credited with popularizing the term "debugging" for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer). She retired twice, in 1966 and 1971, but was persuaded to come back to active duty within a few months both times. She ultimately retired for good in 1986 as a rear admiral. Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as "Amazing Grace".

    Such stories motivate me to share the human side of computing with my students. So, while celebrating computer science education week, in addition to participating in a variety of Hour of Code activities, I also showed my 6th graders Grace Hopper's celebrated interview on the David Letterman show which aired shortly after her retirement in 1986.

    Computer Science has a rich history. Technology has changed tremendously over the past 70 years, and many of my students are completely ignorant of its roots. What better time, than Computer Science Education Week to remind them of how computer science started and how far it has come. I am eager to teach my students how to program, but more importantly, I am determined to teach them how to think. I believe that the teaching of computer science should not take place in a vacuum, and students will benefit the most when they make real-world connections to the topic.

    So far, my students' experiences with Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code has been very positive. Hopefully, enthusiasm for the topic will continue and many more meaningful learning opportunities will present themselves. I will continue to teach my students how to program, but, more importantly I will teach them computer science. In the words of "Amazing" Grace, "programming is more than an important practical art. It is also a gigantic undertaking in the foundations of knowledge."

    Additional Links:

    Anita Borg Institute, Famous Women in Computer Science: http://anitaborg.org/news/profiles-of-technical-women/famous-women-in-computer-science/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-vcErOPofQ

    Patrice Gans
    CSTA K-8 Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

    December 13, 2013

    The Unsung Heroes of CSEDWeek

    photo 2.JPG

    Today is the last school day of CS EdWeek and what a week it has been! The phenomenal success of Code.org's Hour of Code, a great CSTA CSEdWeek event in CO with our friends at Oracle, new legislation signed that will make computer science courses more accessible and attractive to students. New partners who have joined with us to promote computer science education. Just more of everything! But in all of the hoopla and congratulations, I have not heard much said about the teachers.

    For the last week teachers all across the U.S. and in other countries have dedicated their time to planning and hosting CSEdWeek events in their schools and communities. Countless teachers have written to tell me how proud they have been to share their knowledge and excitement with students, parents, and the general public. One teacher wrote to tell me he was doing an additional event in a local senior citizens home to just show that "no one is ever too old to learn computer science".

    It took over six months of planning, but thanks to the efforts of Mary-Angela Papalaskari of our Philadelphia-area chapter, the citizens of Philadelphia saw the words "Computer Science Education Week 12/9-12/13" in a huge running LED banner across the PECO building.

    Some CSTA teacher members witnessed critical legislative gains for computer science education for which they have advocated and which they have shaped. The photo above, for example, shows CSTA members Joe Kmoch and Lori Hunt with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the legislation he signed this week to make computer science count. And with the support of the CSTA Alabama Chapter and of Drs. Bice and Cleveland from the State Department of Education, the Alabama State Board of Education voted to approve both AP Computer Science and Computer Science Principles as math equivalent elections for graduation.

    This week we have also seen new partners step forward and join us in our fight for more and better computer science education in K-12, partners such as Joyce Hoffman, President of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in WI who gave a wonderful interview on the importance of engaging all students in computer science education to WKOW in Madison, WI.

    And of course we saw President Obama personally encourage students to give computer science a shot.

    Its been a big week, a great week for computer science education. So, to all teachers, from CSTA, we are so proud of you and all that you do. You are, and always will be, the beating heart of CSEDWeek.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

    December 12, 2013

    Faces of Computing Poster Contest Winners

    In honor of Computer Science Education Week, CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2nd annual Faces of Computing student poster contest. This year, over 640 posters were entered into the contest. These posters were created by computing students in 8 countries and 25 U.S. states. The creativity and design process that went into making this collection of posters was phenomenal, making the judging process both challenging and rewarding. CSTA is pleased to award robots to the classrooms of the top three winners in each category.

    The winners of this year's contests include:

    ELEMENTARY
    First Place
    Deziree Ensrud, Hanna Strom, Emma Cheyenne Barfield, Connor Elser, Sean Baker, Falesoa Tufi, Ariana Carter, Lacey Campbell, & Nettie Oswalt;
    Hal Kula Elementary in Wahiawa, HI.
    Teacher: Megan Cummings

    Second Place
    Espen Garner and Nico Anderson-Comas;
    St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
    Teachers: Stefani Baker and Londa Posvistak

    Third Place
    Gojko Panic
    Djura Jaksic Elementary, Serbia.
    Teacher: Jasmina Jerkovic

    MIDDLE SCHOOL
    First Place
    Stephani Kim, Sue Lee, Vaishnavi Sesetty, & Sriya Srikanth
    Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, MD.
    Teacher: Ebony Glover

    Second Place
    Gabriela Ortiz and Kimberly Ortiz-Figueroa;
    Corvallis Middle School of Arts and Technology in Norwalk, CA.
    Teacher: Margaret Munoz

    Third Place
    Sophia Achar, Alex Murphy, Eli Minsky, Jaren Lewison, Jason Kirschenbaum, Adam Frydman, Roslyn Tatom, Miles Schickman, Rebecca Herschberg, & Eden Schachter;
    Ann & Nate Levine Academy in Dallas, TX.
    Teacher: Sharolyn Brown

    HIGH SCHOOL
    First Place
    Gabriel Zarazua
    Grant High School in Valley Glen, CA.
    Teacher: Aimee Dozois

    Second Place
    Aaliyah Malone
    John D. O'Bryant in Roxbury, MA.
    Teacher: Denise Traniello

    Third Place
    Sierra Hearn
    Lincoln Public Schools IT Focus Program in Lincoln, NE.
    Teacher: Steve Carr

    All of the winning posters are now available for download on the CSTA website.

    Thanks to all students and teachers who took the time to participate in this contest!

    Joanna Goode
    Chair, Equity Committee

    Posted by cstephenson at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

    CSEDWeek Highlights at ASMSA

    Like schools across the country, we are celebrating Computer Science Education week here at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) in several ways and we are making sure to involve the educational stakeholders who have given us so much support, including our administration, faculty, and staff.

    At the November school assembly, we showed the Code.org video What Most School's Don't Teach as a teaser for our planned Hour of Code Event. After the video, the students were told to watch for emails with more information about the Hour of Code.

    At a December 2 School Board meeting, we informed our Board that Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe had issued a Proclamation declaring December 9-15, 2013 as Computer Science Education Week. We also shared our plans to participate in one of the Hour of Code activities.

    We were ready for CSEdWeek to actually arrive!

    On December 9, we emailed information about Grace Hopper to all of our students and faculty. We explained about her "nanosecond", the 11.8 inch pieces of wire she carried to help illustrate how far light could travel in a nanosecond. This helped prepare our students for lunch that day. Our Food Service Director from AmeriServ had prepared a menu that included food that could be measured with a nanosecond. There were Nanosecond Hot Dogs, Nanosecond Sub Sandwiches, and Nanosecond Spaghetti. They also served a birthday cake in honor of Grace Hopper's Birthday. The nanosecond lunch was a huge hit with our students!

    On December 10, we held our Hour of Code Event. Four computer labs were used to ensure we had enough available computers. We scheduled our event for 1.5 hours, building in some snack time as programming can work up an appetite. We had about 60 students participate and the state and local paper was on hand to take some pictures and interview some of the students.

    Many of the computer science students wrapped up Computer Science Education Week by taking exams in their respective Computer Science courses. I am sure that these test-taking activities were not as fun as Hour of Code, or celebrating Grace Hopper's Birthday, but they managed.

    Carl Frank
    President, Arkansas CSTA Chapter

    Posted by cstephenson at 02:11 AM | Comments (0)

    December 10, 2013

    The 25 Year Commitment to Making a Computer Scientist

    CSEdWeek continues to roll along with events in schools, districts, community centers, and businesses and computer science educators continue to play a critical role in all of these events. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a CSEdWeek event in the St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado that was sponsored by Oracle and CSTA among others.

    According to Superintendent Don Haddad, St. Vrain is the fastest growing school district in the state and clearly St. Vrain is well on the way to establishing itself as a district dedicated to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn the skills that will enable them to compete in the global economic environment.

    Last night's activities followed upon a district hackathon that involved students in computing challenges in three areas: Best Educational Gaming Solution, Best Teenage Consumer Retail Solution, and SVVSD/ESRI Expert Choice Award. Parents, teachers, community members and staff from several local political leaders were able to view student displays and to vote a People's Choice Award.

    In addition to the prize giving, the evening included a rich agenda of speakers, all focusing on the importance of computer science education. In her address, Oracle Academy Vice President Alison Derbenwick Miller noted that creating a computer scientist takes 25 years and requires engagement by educators at all levels to make sure that students acquire the skills, knowledge, and experience they need as they progress through their educational experiences.

    Alison's focus on the process of becoming a computer scientist was echoed by the members of the panel that I had the pleasure to moderate. Panel members Alexander Repenning (University of Colorado at Boulder), Ann Root (Niwok High School), Tracy Camp (Colorado School of Mines) and Sarah Hug (University of Colorado at Boulder) spoke passionately about the realities of learning computer science at middle school, high school and university and what research is teaching us about how to better engage all students in computer science learning.

    During the panel question session, many of the parents present demonstrated a deep concern about issues of access to computer science knowledge for all students. One parent, for example, noted a critical need for affordable informal education experiences to help students developed their interest in computer science at a young age.

    The evening also received a nice boost from local politicians who are putting computer science education on the map in Colorado. U.S. Representative Jared Polis (a passionate supporter of computer science education) sent a warm video welcome. Monisha Merchant, Senior Advisor for Business Affairs for U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, also spoke about the critical commitment to providing students with the opportunity to prepare for the jobs of the future.

    The evening was a great success thanks to the incredible support and efforts of all of the participants and most especially of Alison Derbenwick Miller and Sara Akbar of Oracle, Patricia Quinones of the St. Vrain School District and my terrific panelists.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

    December 09, 2013

    Let's Hope Computer Science Education Week is an Impetus for Congress to Act

    Editor's Note:
    One CSTA helped to launch CSEdWeek in 2009, our hope was that it would grow into an annual campaign that attracted partners and supporters from all levels of education and industry. This week we will be running guest blog pieces by many of our partner organizations. The excellent blog piece below by our friend Geoff Lane at the Information Technology Industry Council has been reposted here with his permission.

    Were Grace Hopper still alive, she'd turn 107 years young on Monday, December 9th. Grace Hopper, as I'm sure you know, served in the United States Navy with great distinction. She first enlisted in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program in 1943, in the midst of the Second World War, and served in various roles in the Navy until 1986, when she retired as the oldest active-duty commissioned officer at nearly 80 years of age. At the time of her retirement, she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat award bestowed by the Defense Department. Hopper was also arguably one of the brightest minds of her generation, and undoubtedly one of the sharpest computer programmers this country has ever known. She is credited with popularizing the term "debugging," helped design an entirely new computer programming language, and oh by the way, has a U.S. Navy destroyer named after her.

    Not coincidentally, Monday, December 9th also marks the kickoff of Computer Science Education Week. Computer Science Education Week was launched by a diverse and influential coalition of businesses, educators, and non-profits with the simple goal of promoting computer science education. Notable supporters include ITI-members Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Akamai, as well as other prominent organizations like the Computer Science Teachers Association, Alice, and Project Lead the Way, to name only a few.

    The work being carried out by this group is quite timely. Consider, for a moment, that in 2013 (when our favorite apps and the mobile devices that power them aren't just fun devices anymore, but rather extensions of our own being) just six in 10 high schools in the U.S. offer a basic computer programming course, and only about a quarter of the nation's high schools offer advanced placement (AP) computer science classes. What's more, it's expected that the economy will need an additional 1.5 million computer programmers by 2018.

    And this is where Washington can and should help. The great work being done by the Computer Science Education Week partners is no doubt gaining traction, but the country won't realize the true transformative power of computer programming until Congress weighs in and formulates a wholesale approach to tackle the issue. In a previous blog, I wrote about the Computer Science Education Act, a bill that would modify existing legislation to make computer science a "core" subject with the likes of math, English, and history. Core subjects are eligible for federal funds, thereby offsetting curriculum expenses. The legislation passed unanimously in the House of Representatives, but unfortunately has yet to see the light of day in the Senate.

    So as we celebrate this week's activities, we should keep several things in mind. First, as Congress dithers, tech industry leaders like Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Akamai have shown tremendous initiative in preparing today's students for tomorrow's challenges. We should also celebrate Grace Hopper's sterling accomplishments. She remains an inspiration for her years of dedication to her craft and her country. But most importantly, we should remember that Computer Science Education Week is really about enabling kids to not just know Grace Hopper's name, but emulate her work.

    My fingers are crossed that this time next year we'll be able to celebrate Congress and its efforts to expand the computer science education footprint.

    Happy birthday, Grace.

    Geoff Lane
    Government Relations Associate
    Information Technology Industry Council

    Posted by cstephenson at 01:22 AM | Comments (1)

    December 07, 2013

    Are You Looking Forward to Hour of Code?

    After my last blog piece, I got to work on my Hour of Code activity. I was trying to decide where to hold an Hour of Code activity and who to invite. After much consideration, I decided that the easiest place to hold the event would be at my own campus in the computer lab. There are two computer labs next door to each other, so I felt that I could accommodate at least 60. My plan started to come together. The STEM grant coordinator at the local community college generously offered to print and distribute flyers about the event to the local schools. We finally settled on just the junior high schools because of the number of potential students. Also, one of the professors from the same community college offered to help during the event. I immediately accepted his offer. I have also set up an Event Brite site so I could track the number of participants. The flyers have been distributed and families are beginning to register.

    Additionally, I contacted the local newspaper and they agreed to run an article about Hour of Code that I submitted. I used the resources at Code.org to help me write the article. You can read the article at:

    http://media.wix.com/ugd/50dca9_c23f1de8f0914fe48aa7d06258cc2ebb.pdf

    I also contacted the county newspaper and was interviewed by their education reporter. She said they would send a photographer out to my event.

    Another person I reached out to was the executive director of the Computer Using Educators. He decided that I should be one of the moderators for Sunday's (December 8) twitter chat about Hour of Code. It will take place at 8 p.m. PST and the hashtag is #caedchat. Join in if you can!

    Next, I contacted the local Assemblywoman and asked for her help to get the word out. Unfortunately, I never received a response from her. I was disappointed because she is a former teacher and at each of her events states that she is an education advocate.

    I have contacted CTA, our state teachers' association, about advertising Hour of Code. I did not receive a response from the President but I did contact his aide who said that they had sent it to committee. Disappointed with the response, I contacted the editor of the California Educator, CTA's member magazine. She had recently attended a STEM conference at our state capitol. She had heard about Hour of Code at the conference and agreed to interview me about “Hour of Code” and Computer Science Education Week. I also sent her additional information. She said they would tweet out about Hour of Code and CS Ed Week and also post to Facebook. She also suggested some of the sections of their magazine I could write articles for after Hour of Code.

    I am planning on preparing CD-RW's for the participants by adding Alice and other programs to it. I want the participants to take their creations home with them. I have also purchased silicon bracelets to give out and plan to have Christmas goodies to munch on. My principal has offered to supply bottles of water. I have collected some door prizes to give away. My computer science students have committed to be tutors for the evening. Next week during class, my students will tryout the tutorials and select the ones they feel would be the best. I want them to be a part of this, too!

    I am looking forward to Hour of Code and the excitement I hope that it brings to my students and my program. Are you looking forward to Hour of Code?.

    Myra Deister
    At-Large Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 08:34 PM | Comments (2)

    December 05, 2013

    Concerns About a Computer-Based AP CS Principles Exam

    As you know, CSTA has given enthusiastic support for the new Computer Science Principles course but as we move toward its widespread adoption in schools. We believe this is a great course and a game-changer for high school computer science education, but we are also worried about the fact that he current proposal is to have the Advanced Placement CS Principles exam offered exclusively online. Much of our concern is exemplified by the results of the E-Rate and Broadband Survey released by the Consortium for School Networks and MDR.

    The results of this survey indicate that there are serious issues of access to broadband that will inevitably impact the ability of schools to offer this course and enable students write the exam. They show that the average school network cannot support broadband due to poor and outdated internal connections/wiring, backbone in the school LAN, and lack of sufficient wireless access points:

  • 57% of districts do not believe their school's wireless networks have the capacity to currently handle a 1:1 deployment.
  • Half of the wiring in school buildings is older, slower wiring (Cat5 and Cat3) that will not carry data at broadband speeds.
  • 26% of districts are using slower copper or 2.3% wireless backbones in their school LAN.
  • Other key survey findings include:

  • Only 57% of elementary schools and 64% of secondary schools have all classrooms fully equipped with wireless Internet connectivity.
  • 45% of districts participate in consortium buying, including 37% for Internet bandwidth, and overall nearly 44% of districts participate in more than one purchasing cooperative.
  • Rural schools pay six times more for connections than other schools/school systems. Likewise, very large school districts (+50K students) spend over three times more for WAN than other schools/school systems.
  • Schools need both financial support for ongoing monthly costs AND cost of capital or up-front/nonrecurring expenses covered by E-rate if we are to achieve broadband in schools. According to the survey, ongoing monthly costs (79% agreement) and cost of capital or up-front/nonrecurring expenses (59% agreement) are the two biggest barriers for schools.

    Clearly, there are major issues of access to we need to grapple with before we can truly make this course available to all students in all schools.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

    December 02, 2013

    CSTA as a Creator of Change Agents

    CSTA has always been about creating change agents for CS education, that is, making every member a powerful force in getting things done. Summing up what various educator-leaders have accomplished over the past 10+ years would be a long list indeed! The momentum of change initiated by our chapters and individual members has gained speed over the years to what currently appears to be the dawn for a bright future in CS education.

    While reading in the November issue of Tech & Learning magazine, I was spurred to reflect on the exciting changes I’ve seen in both the attention given to, and the public perception of, CS education. A small article at the bottom of page 32 caught my attention because it summarized how CSTA has influenced me and apparently many other CS educators. The article by Jean Tower, Director of Technology in the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough, Massachusetts, listed Three Change Leadership Practices.

    1. Shine the light. Bring focus and energy to the problems you want to solve. Spread the word to parents and community. Tell a compelling story. Paint a picture that's desirable.
    2. Loose/Tight leadership. Create a core set of principles everyone agrees on. People within that framework can make leaps of creativity that make change happen. Think for yourself and find the way to bring core principles to life.
    3. Build relationships. Without strong relationships, on one will move ahead and change won't happen. Build a climate where people are not afraid to take risks. Create a platform for teachers' voices, one bite at a time.

    Without a doubt, CSTA members have grown into influential change agents with these principles as the wind at our backs. The CSTA Voice is packed with articles of incredible changes brought about by CSTA change leaders. Congratulate yourself and fellow members on hard work and amazing results.

    Pat Phillips, Editor
    CSTA Voice

    Posted by cstephenson at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)