Posts tagged ‘NSF’
On May 17, I am going to be attending a summit for computing education in Maryland at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Rick Adrion and I are going to talk about the efforts in Massachusetts and Georgia, and elsewhere through ECEP. I’m looking forward to it (but observant readers will note that I’m traveling to Maryland the day after returning from Denmark!).
On Friday, May 17, 2013, CE21-Maryland will host a Summit for Computing Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) campus in Catonsville, Maryland. We invite teachers, administrators, legislators, industry leaders, and others who have an interest in expanding computer science in high school or middle school to attend. Space is limited to 150 people.
At this summit, the attendees will:
Learn more about computer science high school education across the state of Maryland.
Network with others with an interest in computer science education.
Exchange strategies with other education professionals.
Plan with others to help expand student interest and to increase the number and diversity of students studying computer science in Maryland.
This is a pretty exciting center. EDC does very good work, and Jeremy Roschelle is an excellent researcher in learning sciences (author of the JLS article on economic benefits of STEM education that I blogged on last year).
The new center aims to maximize the potential of NSF-funded projects focused on learning with technology, with the goal of addressing pressing needs in STEM education. Of particular interest are technological advances that allow more personalized learning experiences, that draw in and promote learning among those in populations not currently well-served, and that allow access to learning resources. EDC’s role will be to assess the needs of NSF grantees, foster the development of partnerships, and facilitate and lead events that bring together grantees and stakeholders from the national cyberlearning community.
“This initiative brings another NSF program resource center to EDC and allows us to harness our collective experience and knowledge in this area,” said EDC’s Sarita Pillai, who will lead the EDC team. “Through this work, we expect to accelerate progress in the field of cyberlearning and to improve student learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.”
“This is a timely, important opportunity to connect high-quality research with the rapidly growing market for digital learning, an area of intense need and investment in Silicon Valley and throughout the country,” said SRI’s Jeremy Roschelle, director of CIRCL.
The report on the requested NSF budget for 2014 has a pretty dramatic list of programs that have been cancelled as part of the administration’s desire to reorganize and “consolidate” federal STEM education programs.
CAUSE is an NSF-wide investment that incorporates funding from established programs in the EHR directorate and other NSF directorates funded though the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account. It is created by consolidating three Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) programs: STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP), Widening Implementation and Demonstration of Evidence- based Reforms (WIDER), and Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES); several R&RA programs: BIO’s Transforming Undergraduate Biology Education (TUBE); ENG’s Research in Engineering Education and Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE); GEO’s Geosciences Education and Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG); and the cross-NSF program, Climate Change Education (CCE).
TUES used to be the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program. TUES and CCLI have funded most of the federally-funded efforts presented at SIGCSE. Earlier, CE21 was cancelled, and its replacement isn’t announced.
An article in the latest Science magazine describes the new programs (and how surprised everyone in the STEM education community has been). K-12 belongs in the Department of Education (what does this mean for CS10K?), undergrad and grad in NSF, and informal ed in the Smithsonian (the Smithsonian?!?).
As far as I can tell, the NSF budget document is the only reference to the new NSF CAUSE (Catalyzing Advances in Undergraduate STEM Education). There is no solicitation, and no date for submitting proposals. Bottomline: the programs that have funded most of CS curriculum support are now gone, and the replacements do not yet exist. I hope that this all works out well, but it’s a little scary right now.
From Farnham Jahanian’s email to the CISE-Announce list on the new NSF budget request from the President:
CISE continues its focus on STEM-C Partnerships (formerly, the Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) program) in order to increase the pool of students and teachers who develop and practice computational and data competencies in a variety of contexts and to prepare more students to pursue degrees in computing, computation, and data-intensive fields of study.
It might be that STEM-C will fund everything that CE21 funded (can’t find an announcement yet to see), but the departure of a program explicitly named “Computing Education” is a loss for those of us who are trying to grow the field of Computing Education Research. If it’s not named, it’s easier to ignore.
Ian raises a really important issue that I don’t think is being discussed enough. I predict that computer science MOOC completers are even more white and male than in existing computing education. Replacing more face-to-face CS courses with MOOCs may be reversing the hard-fought gains we’ve made through NCWIT and NSF BPC efforts. I’ve asked both Udacity and Coursera about the demographics of their completers. Coursera said that they don’t know yet because they simply haven’t looked. Udacity said that it’s “about the same” as in existing face-to-face CS classes.
To address issues of inequality, we will have to do something different than what we are doing now, but we want to do something different that has better results. We need to be careful that we don’t make choices that lead us to a worse place than we are now.
Here’s a concrete proposal: Any institution that belongs to NCWIT (or more significantly, the NCWIT Pacesetters program) that runs a MOOC for computer science and does not check demographics should have its membership revoked. (See Note.) We should not be promoting computer science education that is even more exclusive. We need new forms of computer science education that broaden participation. At the very least, we ought to be checking — are we doing no harm? Are we advancing our agenda of broadening participation, or making it more exclusionary?
I wonder if the responsibility to check is even greater for public institutions. Public institutions have a responsibility to the citizens of their state to be inclusive. Readers of this blog have argued that Title IX does not apply to academic programs, suggesting that there is no legal requirement for CS departments to try to draw in more women and minorities. We in public universities still have a moral responsibility to make our courses and programs accessible. If we choose to offer instruction via MOOCs, particularly as a replacement for face-to-face courses, don’t we have a responsibility to make sure that we are not driving away women and minorities?
The SJSU test will be run on “remedial” courses at one of the country’s most ethnically diverse universities, of which only 25 percent of the student population is white, and which is primarily comprised of minorities, first-generation college students, and commuting students. This is a population that has more likely been subject to underfunded primary and secondary schools and, generally speaking, a whole regime of distress, neglect, and bias compared to California residents who would attend Berkeley or UCLA. Put differently, the conditions that produced the situation that the Udacity deal is meant to solve, at least in part, was first caused by a lack of sufficient investment in and attention to early- and mid-childhood education.
In response, California could reinvest in public schools and the profession of secondary teaching. But instead, the state has decided to go the private paved surface and illumination services route — siphoning California taxpayer receipts and student tuition directly into a for-profit startup created, like all startups, with the purpose of producing rapid financial value for its investors. Just how much of those proceeds Udacity will hold onto is unclear. While the company has reportedly paid instructors in the past, it’s unclear if its new institutional relationships will support paid teaching or not. Coursera, Udacity’s primary competitor in the private MOOC marketplace, has managed to get faculty from prestigious institutions to provide courses for free, in exchange for the glory of a large audience and the marketing benefit of the host institution.
Note: While I sit on the NCWIT Leadership Team, the opinions in this blog are my own. They do not represent NCWIT’s policy. I shared this blog post with Lucy Sanders, CEO of NCWIT, and she made an interesting suggestion. Some NCWIT Pacesetters are departments who may have little control over what their college, school, or university does. If they must use MOOCs, because of decisions made higher in the administrative chain, then perhaps measuring the demographics of the completers might be a way of being a Pacesetter.
I just learned this fact at the NSF BPC/CE21 meeting from Jane Margolis’s talk. This last Fall 2012, the first female African-American CS PhD graduated from the University of Michigan. Michigan is 14% African-American. University of Michigan is a state institution. Really? 2012? I guess it’s not too surprising, when we know from the AP CS data that I talked about last year that few African-Americans get access to computer science in Michigan.
Dr. Kyla McMullen is the first African American woman to graduate with a PhD in computer science at the University of Michigan. When asked how she feels about her new title, the scholar replied “Bittersweet.” She explained that it’s gratifying to have the distinction of being the university’s first African American female to acquire a PhD in computer science, it reminds her of a sad reality: There aren’t enough men and women of color pursuing advanced degrees in computer science.
What is the current state of high school computer science professional development? The results of the UChicago Landscape Study
I am at the meeting in Portland of all the awardees from the NSF programs in Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC-A, like ECEP), Computing Education in the 21st Century (CE21, like our CSLearning4U project), and all the funded projects related to CS10K, sponsored by NCWIT.
You may recall that I invited people to participate in the Landscape Study on the capacity of our computing community’s professional development efforts. The results of that survey are being presented here at this meeting, and a summary is available at the URL below.
I find the results a little depressing. The folks at UChicago who do the study compare us to professional development in Science or Mathematics, and we don’t much look like that. We have such a long way to go.
What is the current state of high school computer science professional development?
THIS STRAND OF WORK FOCUSED ON DESCRIBING THE CURRENT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
that are available for high school computer science (CS) teachers. The primary data collection for this strand took place through a survey administered to providers of high school computer science teacher professional development (PD).
Through a five-year, $6.24 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Amherst will form a partnership to further grow the pipeline of students in U.S. computer science programs and broaden participation in this fast-growing field. The new Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance will extend best practices and seek to duplicate state-level successes in developing K-12 and post-secondary curriculum, enhancing teacher training, and conducting hands-on student workshops and other programs.
Computer science remains one of the fastest growing fields, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasting almost 20 percent increases in computing-related jobs by 2020. While myriad efforts at the national, state and local levels have contributed to four years of sustained growth in undergraduate computer science programs, accelerated growth and diversification remains critical to cultivating the next generation of technology industry leaders.
“Computing is the world’s newest great science. Yet, even though enrollments in U.S. computer science programs are on a four-year rise, it’s still not enough to satisfy the workforce demands of a technology-driven global economy,” said Mark Guzdial, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing and ECEP co-lead. “This new collaboration will drive the discipline forward, enabling states to replicate recent successes in Georgia and Massachusetts that enhanced computing education, grew the pipeline of interested students, and facilitated systemic change to the educational system.”
ECEP builds on five years of work by Georgia Tech’s Georgia Computes! program and UMass Amherst’s Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE). In Georgia, Georgia Computes! introduced thousands of middle and high school students to computing through workshops, summer camps and partnerships with the Girl Scouts and other organizations. As a result, the number of students taking the AP Computer Science exam doubled from 2007 to 2011, with even higher growth rates among women and underrepresented minority groups. In addition, more than 500 teachers from 312 schools in 20 states have taken one or more training workshops as part of the Georgia Computes! program.
“Georgia Tech has a legacy of creating, implementing and disseminating computing educational approaches that introduce computing in ways that are creative, social and interesting, such as creating stories, art, music and games by writing computer programs,” said Barbara Ericson, director of Computing Outreach in the Georgia Tech College of Computing, and co-PI for ECEP. “Through this new partnership with CAITE, we can further expand our efforts and have a tremendous impact on computing pipelines across the nation.”
In Massachusetts, CAITE helped bolster enrollments in community-college computer science programs by 64 percent over five years, and facilitated 78 percent growth in programs that facilitated CS student transfers from two to four-year universities. CAITE also reached more than 21,000 students and 2,100 educators through more than 350 computing events, including robot-building activity days for middle school girls and professional development workshops for computer science teachers and faculty.
The first state partners for ECEP will be California and South Carolina, chosen because they have the population, institutions, workforce demands and individuals or organizations ready to work on computer science education reform.
Working in conjunction with industry and government associations, ECEP will assist and advise these and future partner states in running 4th-12th grade student summer camps, improving transfer from two- to four-year institutions, enhancing computing curricula, conducting effective student outreach, and more.
A nice piece (with interviews with Barbara Ericson, Jeff Gray, Dan Garcia, and Maureen Biggers) on getting more women into computing. I like that the story reflects current thinking and research on best practices for drawing more women into computing. For example, we used to think that having more female professors was critical to provide role models. But Joanne Cohoon’s work showed us that male professors can motivate women to consider graduate work in computing as well as female professors.
Experts on the gender gap in computer science have increasingly come to believe that a multipronged strategy is needed to close it. The tactics would include the following:
- More-diverse programming activities, to seize the interest of middle-school girls, in the same way that role-playing video games are embraced by boys.
- A revamped introductory course, whether taken in college or as an Advanced Placement course in high school, to provide a broad overview of the real-world applications of computer science.
- Early exposure to research projects during the first year of college. (Ms. Lamm was paired with her mentor, Mr. Gray, during her first month at Alabama.)
- Opportunities for undergraduates to interact with women who have enjoyed successful careers in technology.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS — the organization that publishes Science) sponsors a Science and Technology Policy Fellows program that places scientists and engineers into positions in the US government. The idea is to get more people who know science and engineering involved in public policy. In general, few of these fellows come from computer science and engineering, which is a real shame since an increasing amount of science and technology policy involves issues around computing.
I got a chance to chat with Becky Bates who was a AAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow last year, placed in the National Science Foundation (NSF). She told me, “I really care about the issue of policy, and the issue of how scientists and engineers interact with government.” She wanted to get involved because she saw that better understanding of science could inform policy, and that policy impacts what we do as scientists and engineers.
The program requires either a PhD in science or engineering or an MS in an engineering discipline plus eight years of experience. Many Fellows are placed at NSF, but there are also Fellows at NOAA, NASA, NIH, the State Department, Department of Defense, US AID, and other executive branch agencies as well as in various offices in Congress. Congressional Fellows are sponsored by professional societies (IEEE sponsors fellows, but ACM does not). What AAAS provides is matching, training, orientation, and coordination between all parties.
Becky’s degrees are in engineering, but she has worked as a CS professor for the last 10 years at Minnesota State University Mankato. She did the fellowship as a “not-quite sabbatical year.” It’s a fully-funded year, including travel money. Many of the fellows treat it as a kind of post-doc. Post-doctoral study years are still uncommon in computer science and engineering, so the fellowship doesn’t have a lot of visibility in computing.
She saw the fellowship as professional development and networking opportunities for her, and the government agencies appreciate having experts in science and engineering available. Fellows inform policy and help to create policy for issues that they care about. The AAAS-provided professional development goes on throughout the year. “Once a month, we go downtown to the AAAS mothership, to get seminars on cooperation, on working with the press, having ‘crucial conversations,’ on negotiation.”
“The first two weeks were pretty intense orientation. 8am to 5:30 of training for two solid weeks. It’s like a professional masters in two weeks: History of government, how policy happens, how budgets get decided.” That last part was particularly useful to Becky. ”We know that money is good, and how it helps us to do what we want to do, but how it gets allocated and distributed is mostly hidden from us. We’re vaguely aware that it happens, and we definitely don’t know what kinds of influences are deciding who gets what.” That’s particularly important for readers of this blog, because how the money is allocated is important for STEM education and for support of research in computer science and engineering.
It’s a long application process, but both easier and shorter than a Fullbright. Written applications are due on December 5, 2012 (applications are now open at http://fellowships.aaas.org). You have to write a couple essays and provide some letters of recommendation. ”Most importantly,” says Becky, “think about your interests and how that can connect to areas of fellowships.” Becky applied to Health, Education, and Human Services program area. ”I had been doing a lot of educational research, and care about Broadening Participation in Computing. I made a convincing case that I fit into education. I mostly supervise undergraduate researchers doing AI and speech, and I look for connections to community in order to inform student engagement.” Another program is Diplomacy, Security, and Development, which could be a good fit for a computing person interested in information security.
In February, you learn if you are a semi-finalist, and then you have a month to prepare a policy briefing memo on some topic related to your area. Then you have a 30 minute interview in early March, where you present your policy memo to a committee. If you make it through that round, you’re a finalist, which isn’t a guarantee of placement, but many agencies want Fellows. ”There’s a fun week, where you go around to different agencies to find the office for you. It’s almost like a residency match — they have to want you, and you have to want them.”
Becky said that producing the policy memo was challenging. She wrote about Race to the Top Funding. ”I connected it to my research on connections to community and self-efficacy, presented some brief statistics about the pipeline and what we know works for under-represented students. I also thought about things happening at different levels. If we’re thinking about this at a national level, you can’t just say, ‘I want more faculty doing this in their classrooms.’ You need to go beyond your own classroom. Moving to a national level, who are all the stakeholders? Companies, state and national agencies, industry, etc. Think about what solutions would have an impact. Some things are expensive. But if I could plan partnerships with agencies to highlight things that are already happening, it could have a broader impact.”
She said that it was a great experience that she recommends to others. She finds herself thinking about education as an engineering problem, viewing education challenges from an engineering perspective. ”Now, I think about engineering and STEM education. Can we imagine engineers engineering the education system? Modifying it using engineering principles? What would it mean to engineer the whole education system, mapping all the inputs, outputs and transformations, the way that engineers work with the power grid, or a transportation system, or even a very large software project?”
She told me, “Your perspectives get changed. It won’t ever again be as small as it was. I didn’t know how big it could be. I’ll go back to Mankato, but now think about state and federal levels. And think about how things I do at my university make an impact at multiple levels.”
I guess what Agarwal says is true: Just because the first MOOCs have been “particularly challenging” with low completion rates does not mean that a MOOC could not work for “less well-prepared students.” But, it also gives us no reason to believe that they could succeed. Lots of people are hoping that MOOCs will succeed at lower-level classes, at increasing completion rates. Would you invest $5M (of taxpayer money) explicitly to improve completion rates over face-to-face classes, when MOOC’s currently have lower completion rates than face-to-face classes? NSF grants are for far less money, and demand much higher expectations of return (though one might argue that NSF should go after riskier investments). Or maybe the situation in higher education (especially U. Texas) is so dire, that MOOCs are considered a last-chance effort?
But for Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, poor retention in the early courses, which were built to be particularly challenging, does not mean a MOOC aimed at less well-prepared students is doomed to fail.
“That is one of the particular exciting things about the University of Texas coming on board,” said Agarwal in an interview on Monday in Boston, where he had just given the keynote talk at a meeting of the New England Board of Higher Education.
“It is the largest and most diverse system and has a large number of first-generation [students],” he said. “And they and we all see online learning as a way of increasing the success rate. And for that the [low-level, high-enrollment] courses are going to be key.”
And edX is not done with completion-oriented partnerships. Agarwal says edX has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop MOOCs aimed at community college students.
“We’ll be announcing community college partners soon,” he said. “We’ve narrowed it down and have got the final agreements in place.”
Interesting new initiative between the White House and NSF to increase the number of graduates in computing and engineering by focusing on retention. (I strongly agree, because retention is where we’ve been focusing our attention.)
This letter announces a cooperative activity between NSF and members of the Jobs Councils High Tech Education working group, led by Intel and GE, to stimulate comprehensive action at universities and colleges to help increase the annual number of new B.S. graduates in engineering and computer science by 10,000. Proposals for support of projects would be submitted under a special funding focus Graduate 10K+ within the NSF Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program STEP, see http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5488.
Studies have shown that retention during the critical first two years in a students major, or along the path towards declaration of a major, is an excellent predictor of eventual graduation with a STEM degree. Recognizing that the correlation between retention and graduation is particularly strong for students in engineering and computer science, we invite proposals from institutions that can demonstrate their commitment to:(i) significant improvement in first and second year retention rates in these particular majors, beyond current levels; and (ii) sustained, institutionally-embraced practices e.g. http://www.asee.org/retention-project that lead, ultimately, to increased graduation. Jobs Council members anticipate providing support for this special funding focus, with the number of awards to be made contingent on the availability of funds.
One of the biggest final efforts in “Georgia Computes!” has been trying to get a measure of the whole state’s CS1/CS2 population. Who are they? Where did they come from? What influenced their decision to take a CS course? Did “Georgia Computes!” have any influence on them? Our third ICER2012 paper (available here) documents our effort to answer those questions.
Of the 35 colleges and universities in Georgia, 29 offer computer science coursework, and 19 participated in our statewide survey. (Why only 19 or 29? Great question, and worthy of another study in itself.) In total, 1,434 introductory computer science students (in either a first or second semester course, but all in the same semester without duplication of students) completed the survey. Our analysis had three parts:
- General description of who’s taking CS and why;
- An attempt to answer the question, “Did Georgia Computes have an effect?”
- Regression analysis on what variables impact decisions to pursue computing.
The general description required a GT vs. non-GT lens. 673 of the students in the survey came from Georgia Tech, and most of those were not CS majors, since GT requires everyone to take CS1. When GT is included, the pool is 31% female, but without GT, it’s only 25% female. Most of the pool had no interest in CS in middle or high school, but the percent expressing interest rises dramatically when you take GT out (since there are so many non-majors being forced to take CS at GT). Having some middle school out-of-school computing experience is pretty much the same with GT (57%) or without GT (56%) which is somewhat surprising. Only 56% of students who ended up as CS majors (not at GT) did anything with CS in middle school? Even larger percentage 57% of students (at GT, thus part of the “required” and “not likely to be CS majors” cohort) had some middle school CS, but did not choose a CS major? One explanation might be that GT is a prestigious school and the kids who go there (CS majors or not) had more out-of-school experiences in general.
We did ask students that if they were NOT a computing major, what were the reasons? Here were the top three answers:
- I don’t want to do the kind of work that a computing major/minor leads to, 30%.
- I don’t enjoy computing courses, 20%.
- I don’t think I belong in computing (don’t fit the stereotype), 13%.
In general, GaComputes out-of-school activities were not mentioned by many students. Girl Scout events and summer camps are still too small in Georgia to touch a significant percentage of students who end up in CS. A big part of our analysis was figuring out if the students may have been influenced by a teacher who had professional development through Barbara’s Institute for Computing Education (ICE). We asked every student what high school they went to, then deciphered their scrawl, and figured out if we had an ICE teacher there. (We didn’t try to figure out if the student actually interacted with that teacher.) Yes, in general, schools that have ICE teachers do produce more women in our CS1/CS2 data set and more under-represented minorities (in some categories), but neither is a significant difference. Right direction, not not enough to make a strong claim.
Finally, we looked at what influenced student interest in pursuing computing career, disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity. There were several statistically significant differences that we noted, like men are more interested in computer games and programming than women, and women are more interested in using computing to help people or society. These aren’t new, but at the size and scope of the survey, it’s an important replication. Most interesting is the mediation analysis that Tom McKlin and Shelly Engelman did. They found that women and under-represented minorities are statistically more influenced by encouragement and a sense of belonging than by a sense of ability, compared to men and white/Asian groups, with outcome variables of (a) satisfaction in choosing to study computing, (b) likelihood in completing a computing major/minor, and (c) likelihood of pursuing a career in computing. Again, these are expected results, but it’s useful to get a large, broad replication.
As I said before, we’re getting to the end of “Georgia Computes!” This was one of our last big analysis efforts. It’s really hard to do these kinds of studies (e.g., each of those school that did not participate still got our time and effort in trying to convince them, then there’s the data cleaning and analysis and…). I’m glad that we got this snapshot, but wish that we got it at an even larger scale and more regularly. That would be useful for us to use as a yardstick over time.
(NSF BPC funded “Georgia Computes!”. All the claims and opinions here are mine and my colleagues’, not necessarily those of any of the funders.)
The REESE solicitation was re-written and just released. Proposals are due 17 July 2012.Reads to me like this could be a source of funding for computing education research.
The Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) program seeks to advance research at the frontiers of STEM learning and education, and to provide the foundational knowledge necessary to improve STEM learning and education in current and emerging learning contexts, both formal and informal, from childhood through adulthood, for all groups, and from before school through to graduate school and beyond into the workforce. The goals of the REESE program are: (1) to catalyze discovery and innovation at the frontiers of STEM learning and education; (2) to stimulate the field to produce high quality and robust research results through the progress of theory, method, and human resources; and (3) to coordinate and transform advances in education and learning research. In coordination with the Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) and Research on Disabilities Education (RDE) programs, REESE supports research on broadening participation in STEM education. REESE pursues its mission by developing an interdisciplinary research portfolio focusing on core scientific questions about STEM learning; it welcomes Fostering Interdisciplinary Research on Education (FIRE) projects, previously called for in a separate solicitation. REESE places particular importance upon the involvement of young investigators in the projects, at doctoral, postdoctoral, and early career stages, as well as the involvement of STEM disciplinary experts. Research questions related to educational research methodology and measurement are also central to REESE activities.
“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!”