How computer science education bridges the digital divide

Amid the havoc that the pandemic wreaked on our lives, there were important lessons to be learned. It proved that people skilled with technology could navigate and succeed, and that many of the potential problems of the future could be solved by technology.

Many institutions and people who embraced technology survived–and in some cases, thrived.  But for those without digital skills or access to a computer and an internet connection, it was a very different story.

During the pandemic, the term ‘homework gap’ was used to describe children without reliable or any access to the internet and appropriate digital devices and who were unable to complete their assignments. At the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 15 million public school students in the US lacked the connectivity needed for online learning. This gap was especially pronounced in low-income, Black, and Hispanic households. As nearly every school adopted some form of online learning, students without computers and connectivity suffered. Schools worked hard to address this situation, but for others, they could only watch their students struggle and fall behind.…Read More

CoderZ Launches New Code Farm Coding and Robotics Course for Grades Four Through Six

DERRY, N.H. – When young students learn coding, they hone skills – such as computational thinking and collaboration – that enhance their success in school and future careers. CoderZ, an award-winning, cloud-based robotics and STEM platform, is helping educators introduce computer science in elementary and early middle school with its new Code Farm coding and robotics course for grades four through six.

Created for teachers and students with no prior experience in coding or robotics, Code Farm provides 45-60 hours of self-paced, gamified activities with real-time feedback and step-by-step instructions. The course offers a broad view of computer science education through a variety of lenses: engineering design, algorithms and coding, ethics and the social impact of technology, and more. The course is aligned with relevant standards frameworks, such as CSTA and NGSS, and includes extension opportunities for middle school classrooms.

Learners use the programming language Blockly to steer virtual robots through tasks such as collecting fruit, avoiding obstacles, and even planting a garden of their own design.…Read More

The ups and downs of girls in STEM

Are girls really underrepresented in STEM?

Yes. 

In the US, the workforce is pretty evenly split between men and women, but in STEM fields men make up 73 percent of the workforce to women’s 27 percent. Why?

It’s easy to want to find a well-meaning solution for this disparity, or even to brush it off as unimportant. But achieving a gender parity in STEM fields (particularly computer science, engineering, and programmers, among others) isn’t just a feel-good social justice crusade. The number of open tech jobs far outpaces the population of traditionally qualified candidates—data projections have pointed to a global shortage of 85 million tech workers by 2030.

It’s not a matter of encouraging girls to pursue STEM programs just for the heck of it, to prove they can and earn a good paycheck—it’s a matter of graduating enough highly-skilled workers to meet economic demand.

Still, the imbalanced statistics for the genders in STEM are damning. What can K-12 schools do to play their part in preparing the next generation for a talent-hungry workforce?

Let students lead…Read More

Give teachers ownership to make computer science a success

Well-intended computer science initiatives are often met with reluctance and resistance before they even get off the ground. Teachers may see the new initiative as “just another thing” on their plate or may feel ill-prepared to tackle an entirely new discipline.

To ensure a smooth transition to teaching computer science, campus and district leaders will need to empower teachers with ownership of the change, versus simply asking them to comply with it.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your teachers are provided with space, support, and resources that will help them confidently assume ownership over the implementation of computer science initiatives.…Read More

How our district engages students in a CTE program

Over the past decade, industries across the world have voiced their concern over the lack of tech skills among high school and college graduates. At the end of 2020, there were an estimated 1.4 million unfilled computer science jobs; this figure continues to rise.

However, the education sector’s response is that currently less than half of high schools teach, and only 5 percent of students go on to further computer science study.

It’s not just about educating our students to take a computer science career path. Today, computer science skills are used and applied across all areas of the curriculum and a broad range of careers.…Read More

VHS Learning Reveals New Commitment to CSforALL Movement

Boston – At the 2022 CSforALL Summit, VHS Learning announced its plans to further expand student access to computer science education. The nonprofit revealed that it will offer free online computer science courses to fifty high school students in rural or underserved high schools. The nonprofit has also created a new beginner’s course on Python, one of the fastest growing computer programming languages.

A total of 180 organizations, up from 136 last year, disclosed commitments during the CSforALL summit, which took place October 19-21, 2022, in Memphis, Tennessee. CSforALL commitments are new, specific, and measurable actions aimed at advancing the goal of rigorous and inclusive computer science education for all U.S. youth. The commitments grow support and momentum for a sustainable K-12 computer science education system in and out of school. VHS Learning has been making annual commitments since the inception of the national CSforALL movement.

In addition to free enrollment in VHS Learning online computer science courses, sponsored students will receive all necessary course materials, and a student orientation. All VHS Learning’s computer science courses are led by teachers certified in their subject area.

Computer science courses in VHS Learning’s high school course catalog include:…Read More

How esports promotes inclusion and belonging

I grew up a casual gamer, half-decent at a few games like ‘Yoshi’s Island’ and ‘Rush.’ The most intense PC games I ever played were ‘Minesweeper’ and ‘Frogger.’ Esports and gaming weren’t something I thought would be a major part of my career.

Had you told high school me that I would be a computer science and information technology teacher, she would have not believed you. On top of that, to tell high school me that she would be heavily involved in growing esports throughout the state of Utah, and she would have audibly laughed at you. Seriously–gaming was not on my radar AT ALL. 

But let me tell you how esports found me–and why I’m so happy it did.…Read More

How this teacher uses story coding to spark creativity and collaboration

When coding merges with storytelling, you have story coding, in which students use computational skills and design thinking as they demonstrate creativity across core curricular areas.

During an ISTELive 22 virtual session, computer science, robotics, and design thinking educator Paige Besthoff demonstrated how story coding–combining storytelling and coding–helps students develop critical skills.

Story coding involves using computer programming to retell stories–students might summarize a story, write original stories, or use programming to create alternative endings to well-known stories. Teachers can use story coding to bring history, science, world languages, ELA, and even math into their lessons.…Read More