CS teachers strategize with ECEP to tackle key issues in 15 states

Monday, July 29, 2013

Twenty-three computer science teachers from 15 states gathered in mid June for a daylong workshop with leaders of the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance in an effort to identify opportunities to help states improve formal computing education pathways. Held in Quincy, Mass. on June 14, 2013, one day before the annual Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Conference, the workshop was “win-win” for ECEP and CSTA, who partnered to organize it. ECEP leaders briefed participants on the history of ECEP and lessons learned from projects in Massachusetts (CAITE) and Georgia (GeorgiaComputes!) upon which ECEP is built. CSTA Executive Director Chris Stephenson talked about the role of CS teachers in advocating for improving CS education and the dovetailed missions of ECEP and CSTA. After some on-the-spot research, a representative from each state gave a two-minute summary of the status of computing education in that state. Educators then reflected on one way each might take action to improve the situation. After lunch, participants engaged in three-hour hands-on workshops that provided tools and new ideas for classrooms: Artbotics using LEGO Mindstorms; Scratch with PicoBoards; and Java Media Computation—all methods developed and/or tested in ECEP projects. The day ended with small group discussions of strategies for action in states: • Making CS a graduation requirement and/or counting CS as a math or science credit • Teacher certification, licensure, training, and professional development • Building teacher community • Increasing the number of computer science teachers and the disciplines from which they’re drawn • Defining computer science for schools, policymakers, and the public • Fundraising and generating resources Participants each developed an action plan to address a key issue in their state, as well as how to draw on ECEP services and resources to make progress. The day was extremely productive for ECEP leaders and teacher-participants, many of whom were CSTA chapter leaders or members of the CSTA leadership cohort. ECEP looks forward to a productive partnership with CSTA as we work with states to improve computing education.