Tying the bow on “Georgia Computes!” and proposing the next step

March 22, 2012 at 10:45 am 5 comments

Georgia Computes!” entered its “one year no-cost extension” stage last September — that means that we can tidy things up, write the last papers, do the last analyses, before all work (and all funding) ends this September.  “Georgia Computes!” has been a statewide alliance, funded by the NSF’s Broadening Participation in Computing program.  Our goal was to improve the quality of computing education and broaden participation in computing across the whole state.  We started in 2006.  Take a look at our external evaluator’s final report on “Georgia Computes!” and you’ll see that we still have lots of stories to tell, many of which haven’t yet made it to this blog, let alone to conference and journal publications.

To tie a bow on “Georgia Computes!” we held a poster session and reverse site visit at NSF in Arlington, Virginia yesterday.  We and CAITE (Commonwealth Alliance for IT Education, the other statewide NSF BPC Alliance based in Massachusetts) brought 40 people and 12 posters to put on a show of the great work that has gone in our Alliances.  You can see PDF’s of all the posters (watch out — 10Mb PDF), or just look at the list of posters.  This poster session was a huge effort.  We sent to NSF 40 people, from Massachusetts and Georgia, from Girl Scouts to high school teachers to community college vice presidents and to CS/CIS department chairs.  We hauled out robots and music software, laptops and reprints of papers.

The NSF program managers in charge of our projects were happy with the turnout.  We had fewer people show up than I had hoped for, but I guess it was more significant who showed up than how many.  The poster session was started by Cynthia Dion-Schwarz, the deputy AD for CISE (that is, she’s the second-in-command for all CS-related funding at NSF).  The deputy director for all of NSF, Cora Marrett, came down with a reporter and a photographer.  We were thrilled when NSF asked if they could keep three of the posters, to show off internally.

The purpose of our visit wasn’t just the poster session, though.  Both CAITE and GaComputes are coming to an end. The BPC Alliances program will no longer fund regional alliances.  However, all changes to formal education pathways (e.g., public policy, articulation agreements, high school curricula) occur at the regional level.  So CAITE and GaComputes are proposing a merger to create a national resource for regional change.  We have proposed creation of the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance, which will be a service organization to support states that want to make computing education reforms in their state, with professional development, access to an experts bureau, and funding.  I shouldn’t say too much about a proposal currently under review at NSF (we submitted it in January — the largest and most complex proposal I’ve ever been part of), but this much was said publicly at the poster session yesterday.  11 of us were there for what’s called a “Reverse Site Visit.”  A review team attended the poster session, listened to us explain our proposal (for some five hours), and is offering (and will offer, in a formal report) comments and critique on the effort, past and proposed.

It was a really long day, and it was the culmination of literally months of work.  I am so grateful to all the poster presenters who flew to DC, to those who came to view the posters, to the reviewers and NSF program managers, and to the incredibly hard-working people at Georgia Tech and U. Mass-Amherst who pulled all of this together.  We’ll know this summer if we get to take the next steps with ECEP.  In any case, it’s been a great run with “Georgia Computes!”

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Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge has been updated Computational thinking, computational values, and academic freedom

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