Google aims to address the challenge of rapidly increasing CS enrollments and increasing diversity #CSEdWeek

December 9, 2014 at 8:01 am 1 comment

I wrote a blog post in October (link here) about the rapidly rising enrollment in computer science and how that will likely reduce diversity in computer science —- again, as it did in the mid-1980’s. I don’t know any obvious solutions, since mechanisms like a lottery are pragmatically and politically infeasible (see “Gas Station without Pumps” analysis of the lottery problem).

Google is stepping up by providing funds to colleges and universities who have ideas for managing the rise. They are providing mini-grants to find ways to increase capacity for CS enrollments. And their criteria for funding explicitly requires increasing diversity.

The focus for all grants is education innovation, and specifically not investment in capital projects or faculty hiring. The proposed program must be:

  • Scalability and sustainability: Proposals must address scalability, preferably with models that can scale beyond a single University. Programs must also be self-sustaining within 3 years.
  • Measurability: Proposals must define and include success metrics, including year-over-year enrollment growth and retention of women and diverse students. Second- and third-year funding will be decided based on measurable success.
  • Diversity: We want to see growth in areas of historically underrepresented groups in computer science: women, underrepresented ethnic minorities, and first-generation college students — and will prioritize Proposals that have a specific strategy for positive impact in this area.

Currently, the program is invitation-only to a select set of 35 colleges and universities as part of a pilot program. You can read the Request for Proposals (RFP) here. The program comes out of Maggie Johnson’s ENGedu group at Google, and Chris Stephenson was a champion for the program.

It’s hard to manage increasing enrollments without giving up on diversity. It’s even harder to meet the demands and increase diversity. Google is helping the community significantly by funding efforts to find those hard solutions.

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