Posts tagged ‘Google’

How Google is supporting computing education research

Google in August made five awards to support computing education research (see announcement here).  They are not huge awards, and they’re all fairly short time frames. But what I’m impressed with is how Google is doing their investment in computing education research.

Google started their process by asking Paulo Blikstein to poll the field and write a report summarizing the state of computing education research.  I blogged about that report here — I liked it.  I thought he covered a lot of ground in a small space, and he pointed out important open research questions.

Google wanted to hear from researchers directly. So they held a workshop with a bunch of researchers (some involved in Paulo’s report, some outsiders) to talk to them about what were the pressing research issues we saw and what we’d recommend Google should do about them.  (I was there, and mentioned the workshop in passing in this blog post.) So, first they educated themselves (and the community) with Paulo’s report, then they brought in more voices to respond to the report and point out other issues.

Now they’ve made their awards. The process is interesting because they engaged the community, at multiple levels. They didn’t just hire the people away from their campuses to come to Google. They made external awards, so that the faculty keep teaching (which we desperately need with the exploding enrollments). I hope other companies make note of the process and consider it as a model.

 

October 22, 2018 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Google study on the challenges for rural communities in teaching CS

Google continues their series of reports on the challenges of teaching CS, with a new report on rural and small-town communities in the US.  This is an important part of CS for All, and is a problem internationally.  The Roehampton Report found that rural English schools were less likely to have computing education than urban schools.  How do we avoid creating a computing education divide between urban and rural schools?

This special brief from our Google-Gallup study dives into the opportunities and challenges for rural and small-town communities. Based on nationally representative surveys from 2015-16, we found:

  • Students from rural/small-town schools are just as likely as other students to see CS as important for their future careers, including 86% who believe they may have a job needing computer science.

  • Rural/small-town parents and principals also highly value CS, with 83% of parents and 64% of principals saying that offering CS is just as or more important than required courses.

  • Rural/small-town students are less likely to have access to CS classes and clubs at school compared to suburban students, and their parents are less likely to know of CS opportunities outside of school.

  • Rural/small-town principals are less likely to prioritize CS, compared to large-city or suburban principals.

Source: Google for Education: Computer Science Research

September 4, 2017 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Google report in CACM: Is the U.S. Education System Ready for CS for All?

Jennifer Wang of Google has the Education Viewpoints column in CACM this month, and she reports on data that Google is collecting on systemic issues preventing CS for All.  It’s an important report that I recommend.

Interestingly, we also found that regardless of race/ethnicity or gender, 80% of students who have learned CS said that they learned CS in a class at school, about twice the rate of any other means of learning, including on their own, through afterschool clubs, online, or in any other program outside of school. This data strongly suggests formal education remains the best way to ensure widespread and equitable access to CS learning.

Yet, we found schools faced many barriers to offering CS classes. We asked principals and superintendents why they did not offer CS in their schools and districts. The most commonly cited barriers had to do with lack of qualified teachers and competing demands of standardized test preparation. Lack of qualified teachers was cited by 63% of principals and 74% of superintendents. Not enough funding to train teachers was cited by 55% of principals and 57% of superintendents. The need to devote time to testing requirements was cited by 50% of principals and 55% of superintendents. This indicates computing professionals can play an important role in expanding access to CS by supporting organizations that train teachers and by providing mentoring and resources to teachers and students.

Source: Is the U.S. Education System Ready for CS for All? | August 2017 | Communications of the ACM

August 25, 2017 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

It’s not about Google. Our diversity efforts aren’t working

The sexist “internal memo” from Google has been filling my social media feeds for the last few days. I’m not that excited about it.  Within every organization, there will be some people who disagree with just about any policy.  The enormous screed is so scientifically incorrect that I have a hard time taking it seriously.  

For example, the memo claims that the gap between men and women in CS is due to biology. That can’t be when there are more women than men in CS, especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa.  I saw a great study at NCWIT a few years ago on why programming is seen as women’s work in those parts of the world — it’s detailed work, done inside, sometimes with one other person. It looks like sewing or knitting. When told that programmers were mostly male in the US, the participants reportedly asked, “What’s masculine about programming?”  There’s an interesting take from four scientists who claim that everything that the internal memo says is correct.

The positive outcome from this memo is Ian Bogost’s terrific essay about the lack of diversity in Tech, from industry to higher education. It’s not about Google. It’s that our diversity efforts are having little impact. Ian explains how our problem with diversity is deeply rooted and influences the historical directions of computing. I highly recommend it to you.

These figures track computing talent more broadly, even at the highest levels. According to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, for example, less than 3 percent of the doctoral graduates from the top-10 ranked computer science programs came from African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Pacific Islander communities during the decade ending in 2015.

Given these abysmal figures, the idea that diversity at Google (or most other tech firms) is even modestly encroaching on computing’s incumbents is laughable. To object to Google’s diversity efforts is to ignore that they are already feeble to begin with.

Source: A Googler’s Anti-Diversity Screed Reveals Tech’s Rotten Core – The Atlantic

August 9, 2017 at 7:00 am 13 comments

Google seeking input on next directions in CS Education Research

Please follow the survey link below to give feedback to Google on what you think is important in CS education research.

We are collecting input to inform the direction of Google’s computer science (CS) education research in order to better support the field.  As researchers, educators, and advocates working in the field everyday, your input is extremely valued.  Please complete this survey by Sunday, April 23.  Feel free to share this survey with others who may be interested in sharing their insights.

Thank you,
Jennifer, on behalf of Google‘s CS Education Research & Evaluation team

April 19, 2017 at 7:00 am 5 comments

Google’s Brief on K-12 CS experiences of Black students in the US for Black History Month

For Black History Month, the Google K-12 Education Outreach Team has released a 1 sheet brief that focuses exclusively on the K-12 CS experiences of Black students in the U.S. and provides specific recommendations as informed by our Diversity Gaps in Computer Science report.

Computer science (CS) education is critical in preparing students for the future. CS education not only gives students the skills they need across career fields, but it also fosters critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. This summary highlights the state of CS education during 2015–16 for Black students in 7th–12th grade, a group less likely to take the AP Computer Science Exam and with a lower pass rate on it compared to other racial groups.

See report here.

February 27, 2017 at 7:03 am 3 comments

AP CS A Exam Data for 2016: Barb Ericson’s analysis, Hai Hong’s guest blog post #CSedWeek

As usual, Barbara Ericson went heads-down, focused on the AP CS A data when the 2016 results were released.  But now, I’m only one of many writing about it.  Education Week is covering her analysis (see article here), and Hai Hong of Google did a much nicer summary than the one I usually put together. Barb’s work with Project Rise Up 4 CS and Sisters Rise Up have received funding from the Google Rise program, which Hai is part of. I’m including it here with his permission — thanks, Hai!

Every year, I’m super thankful that Barb Ericson at Georgia Tech grabs the AP CS A data from the College Board and puts it all into a couple of spreadsheets to share with the world.  🙂
Here’s the 2016 data, downloadable as spreadsheets: Overall and By Race & Gender.  For reference, you can find 2015 data here and here.
Below is a round-up of the most salient findings, along with some comparison to last year’s.  More detailed info is in the links above.  Spoiler: Check out the 46% increase in Hispanic AP exam takers!
  • Overall: Continued increases in test-taking, but a dip in pass rates.
    • 54,379 test-takers in 2016.  This reflects a 17.3% increase from 2015 — which, while impressive, is a slower increase than 24.2% in 2015 and 26.3% in 2014.
    • Overall pass rate was 64% (same as last year; 61% in 2014)
  • Girls
    • Female exam takers: 23% (upward trend from 22% in 2015, 20% in 2014)
    • Female pass rate: 61% (same as last year; 57% in 2014)
    • In 8 states fewer than 10 females took the exam: Alaska (9/60), Nebraska (8/88), North Dakota (6/35 ), Kansas (4/57), Wyoming (2/6 ), South Dakota (1/26 ), Mississippi (0/16), Montana(0/9). Two states had no females take the exam: Mississippi and Montana.
  • Black
    • Black exam takers: 2,027 (Increase of 13% from 1,784 in 2015; last year’s increase was 21% from 1,469 in 2014)
    • Black pass rate: 33% (down from 38% in 2015, but close to 2014 pass rate of 33.4%).
    • Twenty-four states had fewer than 10 African American students take the AP CS A exam. Nine states had no African American students take the AP CS A exam: Maine (0/165), Rhode Island (0/94), New Mexico (0/79), Vermont (0/70), Kansas (0/57), North Dakota (0/35), Mississippi (0/16), Montana (0/9), Wyoming (0/6)
  • Hispanic
    • Hispanic exam takers: 6,256 (46% increase from 4,272 in 2015!)
    • Hispanic pass rate: 41.5% (up from 40.5% in 2015)
    • Fifteen states had fewer than 10 Hispanics take the exam: Delaware, Nebraska, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Kansas, Idaho, West Virginia, Wyoming, Vermont, Mississippi, Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota. Three states had no Hispanics take the exam: North Dakota(0/35), Montana (0/9), South Dakota (0/26).
And as a hat-tip to Barb Ericson (whose programs we’ve partnered with and helped grow through the RISE Awards these last 3 years) and the state of Georgia:
  • 2,033 exam takers in 2016 (this represents something like a 410% increase in 12 years!)
  • New record number of African Americans and females pass the exam in Georgia again this year!
  • 47% increase (464 in 2016 vs. 315 in 2015) in girls taking the exam.
  • Nationally, the African American pass rate dropped from 37% to 33%.  In Georgia it increased from 32% to 34%.
  • The pass rate for female students also increased in Georgia from 48% to 51%.
  • Only one African American female scored a 5 on the AP CS A exam in Georgia in 2016 and she was in Sisters Rise Up 4 CS (RISE supported project).

December 5, 2016 at 7:13 am 4 comments

Community college pathways to a four-year computer science degree: New Google Reports

My ECEP colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Rick Adrion and Renee Fall, led a successful NSF alliance called CAITE.  One of CAITE’s most successful strategies to improve diversity at university-level CS was to make it easier for students to transfer from community colleges.  Community colleges are much more diverse.

The latest reports from Google tell us more about the obstacles that CS students still face in moving from community colleges to bachelor’s degrees, and how to make it easier.

Our latest research shows that students who attend community colleges on the way to computer science (CS) bachelor’s degrees encounter many challenges and obstacles along the way. But there are many ways for community colleges and four-year colleges to work together and with industry to remove these obstacles and support students seeking to transfer into CS majors. Today, we are releasing two complementary research reports that explore the pathways that community college students follow to a bachelor’s degree in CS. The reports also examine the experiences of these students and the opportunities that exist or that might be created to ensure their successful career advancement. Longitudinal Analysis of Community College Pathways to Computer Science Bachelor’s Degrees investigates the national landscape of CS students at community colleges in order to better understand student behaviors and institutional characteristics that support or hinder community college students’ efforts to attain a CS bachelor’s degree. The companion report, Student Perspectives of Community College Pathways to Computer Science Bachelor’s Degrees, takes a complimentary in-depth and qualitative look at the experiences of students from underrepresented groups at community colleges in California, a state that enrolls one quarter of all community college students in the U.S.

Source: Community college pathways to a four-year computer science degree

November 28, 2016 at 7:15 am Leave a comment

Google-Gallup Reports on Race and Gender Gaps in CS: Guest Blog Post from Miranda Parker

Google’s latest reports from their collaboration with Gallup lines up with Miranda Parker’s research interests in privilege in CS education (see preview of her RESPECT 2015 paper here). I invited her to write a guest blog post introducing the new reports. I’m grateful that she agreed.

Google, in collaboration with Gallup, has recently released new research about racial and gender gaps in computer science K-12 classrooms. A lot of the report confirms what we already knew: there are structural and social barriers that limit access to CS for black, Hispanic, and female students. I don’t mind the repeated results though–it helps form an even stronger argument that there is a dearth of diversity in computing classrooms across the country.

The report does highlight interesting tidbits that may not have been as obvious before. For example, black and Hispanic students are 1.5 and 1.7 times more likely than white students to be “very interested” in learning computer science. This knowledge, combined with the data that black and Hispanic students are less likely to have access to learning CS, creates a compelling argument for growing programs focused at these groups.

Research like this continues to push the envelope of what is known about racial and gender gaps in computer science. However, it may be time to dig deeper than visible identities and explore if there are other variables that, independently or together with the other traits, create a stronger argument for why the diversity gap exists. Does socioeconomic status better explain racial gaps? What about spatial ability? These are variables that we at Georgia Tech are looking at, as we hypothesize about what can be done to level the playing field in computing.

goedu_racial_gender_info_1018_r1_01_2-width-1000

 

Today, we’re releasing new research from our partnership with Gallup that investigates the demographic inequities in K-12 computer science (CS) education in two reports, Diversity Gaps in Computer Science: Exploring the Underrepresentation of Girls, Blacks and Hispanics and Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K-12 Schools. We surveyed 16,000 nationally representative groups of students, parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents in the U.S.  Our findings explore the CS learning gap between white students and their Black and Hispanic peers as well as between boys and girls and confirm just how much demographic differences matter.  We’re excited to share this data to bring awareness to issues on the ground in order to help expand CS education in meaningful ways.

Source: Racial and gender gaps in computer science learning: New Google-Gallup research

October 26, 2016 at 7:22 am 4 comments

Google makes 6 CS Capacity Awards to address rising enrollment while improving diversity

I mentioned (in a previous blog post) Google’s awards program to fund innovative efforts that deal with rising enrollments in CS while improving diversity.  They’ve just announced the six awardees: CMU, Duke, Mount Holyoke, George Mason, Rutgers, and Berkeley.  The plans include mentor training, teaching fellows, new kinds of class structures (e.g., optional mini-lectures, small group sessions, self-paced elements, and periodic skills demos based on martial arts), new technology tools, and collaboration spaces.

More details are in the Google blog post below.

One of Google’s goals is to surface successful strategies that support the expansion of high-quality Computer Science (CS) programs at the undergraduate level. Innovations in teaching and technologies, while additionally ensuring better engagement of women and underrepresented minority students, is necessary in creating inclusive, sustainable, and scalable educational programs.

To address issues arising from the dramatic increase in undergraduate CS enrollments, we recently launched the Computer Science Capacity Awards program. For this three-year program, select educational institutions were invited to contribute proposals for innovative, inclusive, and sustainable approaches to address current scaling issues in university CS educational programs.

via Research Blog: Google Computer Science Capacity Awards.

March 17, 2015 at 8:49 am 3 comments

Google Computer Science for High School open for face-to-face again

Really great news: The Google CS4HS program is again open to face-to-face professional development!  Last year, they only offered MOOC-based PD (see blog post here).  The new call is backed up with research, so that the CS4HS programs are designed to be more effective.  (I suspect that Chris Stephenson’s move to Google had something to do with this…)

Google believes the new Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles (CSP) course being developed by the National Science Foundation and the College Board is key to engaging a more diverse audience of students in computer science. Adoption and exemplary teaching of this course requires a community-wide effort to prepare teachers. To that end, in 2015 the CS4HS program will be providing grants to universities and educational non-profits interested in helping their local teacher community prepare to teach CSP.

Research (Joyce & Showers, 2002; Wiske, Stone, & Levinson, 1993) shows that peer-to-peer professional development and on-going support improve teachers’ abilities to adopt and implement new content and skills. Based on this research Google’s intention in 2015 is to provide funding support for:

  • professional development workshops (face to face and online) focused on CSP
  • establishment of or work with existing communities of practice (COP) that will support ongoing professional development and advocacy for CSP on an ongoing basis.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible:

  • You must be affiliated with a college, university, technical college, community college, or an official non-profit organization focused on education.

  • Your workshop must have a clear focus on the College Board’s new AP Computer Science Principles curriculum.

  • Your workshop must be followed up with a plan for year-round communities of practice work that supports ongoing PD and advocacy for the Computer Science Principles curriculum.

  • Online courses must use Google products for content delivery.

  • Online courses must be massive, open, and online; therefore enrollment cannot be capped.

via Google Computer Science for High School.

January 16, 2015 at 8:47 am Leave a comment

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

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.

December 9, 2014 at 8:01 am 1 comment

Things you Love are Made with Code: $50 million Google coding initiative targets girls

The website https://www.madewithcode.com/ is really nice, with high-quality videos.  I like the direction.  It’s not clear to me how all the different Google initiatives in CS education integrate.  Does MadeWithCode, CS First, their new CS teaching repository, and the CS Fellows program all fit together in a strategic direction?

Made with Code’s mission is anchored by a website where girls can use basic coding technique to make bracelets and other items; Google also will dole out grants to host girl-coding parties at Girl Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs around the country, as well as fund a range of marketing and other awareness campaigns.The idea is to de-couple coding with dry tech chores, and instead show how the skill is vital to everything from movie-making to helping cure malaria.

via $50 million Google coding initiative targets girls.

July 6, 2014 at 8:51 am Leave a comment

Chris Stephenson steps down as Executive Director of CSTA

I do think that it’s fair to say that every K-12 CS initiative in the US has benefited from CSTA and its members, and it’s also fair to say that Chris Stephenson has personally played a major role in (many, if not most of) those initiatives.  Wishing her best of luck at Google!

I think it would be fair to say that there is not a single K-12 computer science initiative in this country (and other countries as well) that has not benefited directly from CSTA and its many dedicated volunteers. This is something in which every CSTA member can take great pride.

In the last year we have seen the pay off for much of CSTA’s early work. Public interest in computer science education has never been so high. Coalitions of powerful education and industry allies are working together to change educational policy. Great research is underway. And teachers now have access to unprecedented opportunities for professional development. K-12 computer science education is an overnight sensation more than 10 years in the making.

So what of the next 10 years? Like any truly great organization, CSTA continues to evolve and change as the needs of educators and their students do the same. But as long as computer science is taught in schools, there must be a peer-driven professional organization that does the countless things needed to ensure that it remains relevant, supported, and strong.

I recently submitted my resignation as Executive Director of CSTA, and May 23, 2014 will be my last day. I will be moving on to my new role as a Computer Science Education Program Manager at Google where I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of the computer science education community.

via Computer Science Teachers Association.

May 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm 2 comments

Google’s mistake: CS teacher PD must be on-line only

Google CS4HS program has had a big impact in computer science education in the United States.  According to the UChicago studies, a sizable percentage of all CS teacher professional development (PD) in the United States — 25% of all PD workshops were funded just by Google.

Google has changed the criteria for the 2014 offerings.  They will only fund all online courses.  Not so in Europe, where they are still funding face-to-face workshops.

This is a mistake for two reasons:

  1. We don’t know yet how to construct on-line CS teacher professional development that succeeds.  The drop-out rate for MOOCs is enormous, and teachers fall into the groups who most often do not complete, especially a CS-oriented MOOC.
  2. What we know about CS teacher PD says that you need to develop a community of practice, and you need to start it face-to-face.  CS is in a different place than most teacher PD.  Most teachers develop their sense of identity (which influences what professional groups they join, where they look for professional development, who they talk to about their classes) from their teacher certification: math teacher, reading teacher, science teacher.  Most states have no teacher certification for CS.  Lijun Ni’s work found that a community of practice was critical for establishing that sense of CS teacher identity.  How do you form it?  Many years ago, I got the chance to chat with Starr Roxanne Hiltz who did some of the earliest work with online teacher communities.  She said that it never worked when starting all online.  The teachers had to meet one another and establish rapport, and then the online component could take off.

Google can scale-up who gets “touched” by CS teacher PD, but will lose considerably in effectiveness.  I predict that the end result will be far fewer new CS teachers from the 2014 workshops than from previous incarnations of CS4HS.  I understand that Google is a company and has to control costs.  But the return on investment for this change will be drastically less — they will end up with fewer well-prepared CS teachers for their investment, not more.

Applicants must satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible:

  • You must be affiliated with a college, university, technical college, community college, or an official non-profit organization
  • Your workshop must have a clear computer science focus
  • You must use Google products for content delivery
  • You must not cap enrollment

Please note:

In the US/Canada region for 2014, we will only be funding online courses (MOOCs) professional development programs

via CS4HS 2014-US/Canada.

December 20, 2013 at 1:13 am 6 comments

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