IU Northwest initiative to accelerate computer science ability in the state

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IndianaComputes!, a university collaboration in which Indiana University Northwest is a partner, has been awarded a state contract of more than $600,000 to accelerate and deepen computer science (CS) capacity in Indiana.

The contract will fund services such as workshops, coursework, and resource development. To optimize teacher convenience, the services will be offered online, as well as supported by more than a dozen collaborating universities and colleges located around the state. All services will be provided free of charge to Indiana educators; and upon completion, participating teachers from public and charter schools are awarded a stipend.

Bhaskara Kopparty, chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems (CIS) and IndianaComputes! program coordinator at IU Northwest, said the vision is for all K-12 stakeholders in Indiana (including the seven counties of Northwest Indiana: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski, and Starke) to develop foundational computer science skills, including content knowledge and best-practice teaching skills for K-12 computing standards.

“We are ready to deliver all the necessary coursework and support for the best possible professional development for future computer science teachers in our school systems,” Kopparty said. “IndianaComputes! offers an unprecedented opportunity to help build computer science education capacity and we are excited to take part in this important endeavor.”

Computer science background knowledge beyond the K-8 standards will be available for high school computer science teachers, STEM, and curriculum specialists (as well as interested K-8 teachers). Integration skill development will be available for all grade bands as computer science now intersects all subjects. The free coursework is being developed especially for teachers and uses differentiated learning strategies and problem-based contexts to support novice and experienced teachers alike.

The free coursework and regional CS Homeroom activities are a significant addition to the IndianaComputes! free resources already maintained for Indiana K-12 Computer Science stakeholders, including bell work preparation for iLearn, unpacked CS standards, a growing repository of CS classroom activities by grade banded standard, an annual Computer Science Teacher conference, and more.

The need for improving computer science pathways

The state established funding for computer science teacher development in support of the 2018 legislative passage of Senate Bill 172, which requires that beginning July 1, 2021, all school districts teach the K-8 computer science standards developed by the Department of Education, as well as offer at least one approved elective computer science high school course each year. Because few practicing teachers had access to computer science pedagogy in their pre-certification programs, the result is a large install base of educators with little or no computer science background. The IndianaComputes! program has been specifically designed to help address that background gap.

IndianaComputes! will offer free services, resources, workshops, courses, and coursework support from a growing number of collaborating campuses across the state of Indiana, currently including the flagship IU campus in Bloomington, IU Northwest, IU South Bend, IUPUI, Ball State, Goshen College, Indiana State University, Indiana Wesleyan, Purdue Fort Wayne, the University of Evansville, the University of Indianapolis, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Southern Indiana. The coursework and materials are being developed specifically for teachers and are delivered within a unique infrastructure.

Registration for IndianaComputes! is open now, and the program launches soon.

To learn more and register, contact Kopparty at bkoppart@iun.edu or Abiona Olatunde at oabiona@iun.edu. To learn more about IndianaComputes!, visit indianacomputes.net.

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