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Ball State Plans New Degree In Computer Science Education

.Ball State University hopes to have its computer science education degree available by fall 2019.

Pixabay/public domain

Ball State University says it is creating a new degree to train more computer science teachers as part of a statewide effort to fill more STEM education positions in Hoosier schools.

President Geoffrey Mearns explains the proposed computer science education degree simply.

“The melding together of computer science as well as education, in similar ways that we do whether you’re going to be a math teacher or a history teacher,” he says. “We’re pretty confident that we can get students from the starting line to the finish line in four years.”

The plan’s details still need to be approved by the Ball State Board of Trustees and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.  Mearns says he hopes to offer it by fall 2019.

Until then, and if also approved by school trustees, students will soon be able to major in secondary or elementary education and add an already-existing Ball State minor or concentration in the foundations of computer science.

Mearns says he’s heard from the state that since 2010, only 130 teachers have received a computer science teaching endorsement.

Springfield, Vt., School District to Start a Computer Science Program

The Springfield, Vt. School District is launching a computer science program for middle and high school students, the first of its kind in Vermont, Superintendent Zach McLaughlin announced in a news release last week. The program will start rolling out in January, and is slated to fully materialize in the 2018-2019 school year.

In addition, the Springfield School Board has voted to make one semester of coding a high school graduation requirement, also a first-in-the-state initiative.

“As we follow societal trends, we know that (students’) lives will be intertwined with computer science,” McLaughlin said in the news release. “Whether as a community member, a voter or a wage earner, our students’ worlds will be impacted by the growing integration of technology with all aspects of their lives. Computer science skills will set our graduates up for success.”

McLaughlin did not return telephone and email messages seeking further comment on the initiatives.

The program’s emphasis on hands-on learning is meant to provide widely applicable experience that will sharpen students’ computer literacy and problem-solving skills. In addition to computer science coursework, the program will likely include extracurricular activities such as a “First Robotics” team and a “3D Vermont” club. Organizers of the program hope to hire a computer science coach, as well as several mentors to lead workshops, activities and one-on-one projects with students.

The program will also take measures to include young women and to promote gender equality in computer science in general. Marguerite Dibble, a Vermont native and founder of the award-winning game design company GameTheory, will help develop a “Girls Coding” program and other school activities in her capacities as senior consultant to school district’s initiative.

“Technology, when used to its best potential, can provide empowerment and opportunity for many,” Dibble said in the news release. “As an industry, technology needs to diversify and broaden, and to do that we need to teach tech enthusiasm in a way that focuses on creativity, empathy and impact.”

The entire initiative is part of a broader collaboration with Springfield Regional Development Corporation and the Center on Rural Innovation, a Vermont-based organization that supports the economic development of small-town communities through digital growth.

“If we can build a program that helps all kinds of kids see through mentorship, hands-on experiences and self-discovery that technology skills can be a platform of opportunity for many diverse and exciting careers,” said Dibble, “that will be a great success.”

— EmmaJean Holley

Virginia adopts computer science standards for K-12

The Virginia Board of Education voted last month to become the first state to adopt mandatory computer science standards for all students.

The computer science Standards of Learning were unanimously approved after lengthy discussion on Nov. 16. They laid out the four key fundamentals that must be taught: computer literacy, educational technology, digital citizenship and information technology.

Each of these concepts is interwoven into other content areas in most cases. Computer literacy means just that: making sure a student knows how to use computers and programs and can demonstrate that by creating a digital presentation.

Educational technology applies computer literacy to other subjects, such as a science class using an online document to collaboratively write a lab report. Digital citizenship standards should help students learn how to appropriately and safely use technology, and information technology covers the industrial applications of computers, such as installing software.

George RR Martin’s Science Fiction Theory Of Internet Apocalypse

On Friday, Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin posted “Monsters From The Id” to his LiveJournal. “Who says that science fiction is not prophetic?” he wrote as an accompaniment to an embedded clip from the 1956 sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet. While most remembered today for one of its costars, the iconic Robby the Robot, Forbidden Planet isn’t the serving of 50s, B-movie pulp many assume. Instead, it’s a thoughtful take on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with Dr. Edward Morbius in the place of Prospero, as a scientist investigating deadly forces beyond his control.

Martin’s clip comes near the end of the movie, as Dr. Morbius and Commander Adams (a young Leslie Nielsen!) finally figure out the mysterious power behind an invisible monster that keeps killing Adams’ crew. Morbius has been playing with technology left behind by an extinct alien race, the Krell. The Krell’s machine can “instantaneously project solid matter to any point on the planet, in any shape or color they might imagine, for any purpose,” Adams said. “Creation by mere thought.”

But the Krell didn’t take into account the primitive impulses underlying their noble intentions. Once activated, instead of offering them miracles, the device weaponized their own worst impulses: “The secret devil of every soul on the planet, all set free at once, to loot and maim.”

“The Krell Machine has been built,” Martin writes. “We call it The Internet.”

It’s an apocalyptic comparison, which isn’t in short supply these days. But whether or not it’s true is hard to say from here. It’s more likely that the internet as currently conceived isn’t revealing our true nature, as the Krell id machine does, but playing to our vulnerabilities, turning our own psychology against us to drive engagement and encourage addiction. We don’t even really understand what we’ve built. We’re digitally packed together and defenseless, like urban areas in plague times before the germ theory of disease.

As Max Read pointed out in a recent New York magazine article on Facebook, “At 2 billion members, ‘monthly active Facebook users’ is the single largest non-biologically sorted group of people on the planet after ‘Christians.’” Something is being built and nobody, certainly not Mark Zuckerberg, understands what it means. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter may have been modelled to suck up our information and sell us to advertisers, but it’s gone far beyond anything we could have previously imagined, moving elections, changing society, maybe even altering us as people, irrevocably transforming how we interact and where we find social cohesion. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, 4chan — they are not churches, not countries, not governments. They are something new. And something dangerous.

Could our algorithmically-sorted social media lives, isolating us in epistemological echo chambers, hurt our chances of unifying to confront global problems like global warming? Could tribalist online communities reinforcing radical ideologies be to blame for the rise of reactionary politics and the resurgence of fascism?

They are questions that could only be asked in the past few years, as we’ve seen consensus truth explode into a fragmented and uncertain future. The scale of the problem is becoming more and more evident. “We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” former Facebook Vice President Chamath Palihapitiya said in a recent Stanford talk. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. You are being programmed.”

That word, “programmed,” suggests human agency and control. But while the internet depends upon human input, its output — the new world it will build — is, for now, as out of our control as the alien technology of Altair IV.

Aptean Teaches Kids to Code During Computer Science Education Week

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Dec. 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Aptean, a leading global provider of mission-critical enterprise software solutions, joined companies across the country last week in hosting an Hour of Code event for local children at its global headquarters. Aptean held the event in support of Computer Science Education Week, a global effort to encourage youth interest in computer science and coding.

“It’s crucial to instill an interest in computer science, coding and web development in our children as early as possible, as more roles will require this knowledge by the time they enter the workforce,” said Aptean CEO Kim Eaton. “I enjoyed seeing the kids’ faces light up when they saw what they had designed. I think the event sparked their imaginations and may have created a few future developers!”

About 20 children ages 5 through 13 worked alongside their parents and Aptean volunteers to design a Star Wars-themed game using a visual programming language. Children also had the opportunity to experiment with text-based languages such as JavaScript. Aptean plans to expand the event to other offices and open it to the public next year.

“My kids loved it,” said Ginger Laney Clopper, MA operations director for Aptean. “The activities felt like fun games, and they felt a big sense of accomplishment when they were able to code their own creations. At the event we hosted kids with all different levels of experience, and everyone got to try something new. I’m glad that Aptean is committed to sponsoring more Hour of Code events to reach more kids in the larger community.”

For more information about Computer Science Education Week, visit https://csedweek.org/. For more information about the Hour of Code, visit https://hourofcode.com/us

ABOUT APTEAN

Aptean is a leading global provider of mission-critical enterprise software solutions. We build and acquire industry-focused solutions to support the evolving operational needs of our customers. Our solutions help more than 7,000 organizations stay at the forefront of their industries by enabling them to operate more efficiently, thereby ensuring higher customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.aptean.com

Aptean is a trademark of Aptean, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Media Relations
Stephanie Zercher, Aptean
Stephanie.Zercher@aptean.com
678-681-9070

 

Children get an ‘hour to code’ during Computer Science Week

CLOSE

Schools and learning centers in North Jersey participate in the Hour of Code movement for Computer Science Week.
Lindsey Kelleher/NorthJersey.com

Sitting in their classroom desks, students of Beatrice Gilmore Elementary School in Woodland Park dragged blocks of code up, down, and across their laptop screens.

Their goal was to get the characters to move in a computer game.

“There’s Star Wars, there’s Minecraft. There are a number of different games,” said Gilmore computer teacher Billy Krakower. “They have to tell the characters how to move by using the code instead of with a joystick or a controller pad.”

Normally, the third and fourth graders who take the computer class learn technology and basic coding skills, but this past week their lessons were more focused on coding, in recognition of Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 4 through 10.

They completed the “Hour of Code,” which is a global movement designed to teach children and adults basic coding skills, according to the website https://hourofcode.com. The Gilmore students used computer games and apps from the website code.org and kits with magnetic building blocks that were provided to them by the startup business littleBits.

Coding is creating a set of rules using a type of language and commands that computers understand. Coding is used to computer games, computer animations, apps, websites and software.

“It’s an important skill for students to learn since a large part of our world revolves around technology,” said Krakower. “There are many jobs that involve coding in today’s society. Starting to learn at an early age will help them get those jobs in the future.”

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Beatrice Gilmore students were among many young people throughout the nation who participated in Hour of Code activities.

The Hour of Code is designed to “demystify code” and to show that “anybody can learn the basics, according to Deb Turso, spokesperson for littleBits.

Turso noted that Hour of Code has “reached tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries.” 

“Coding is an extremely invaluable skill. It is very much in demand,” said littleBits senior product designer Dave Sharp.

“It’s more about, how do you break a problem down into manageable chunks? How do you change something so you can manage it more efficiently? How does a complex system work? How do you make changes to something?” he explained.

In the Montclair Learning Center, an after-school educational business on Bloomfield Avenue, Executive Director Christiane Agkpo said coding is about teaching children about computational thinking, which she compared to thinking like a computer. 

“As we’re coding, we’re looking at a big problem and we’re saying, I want to go from a to b. How do I get there?” observed Agkpo, noting that students learn how to solve problems by dividing them into smaller steps and prioritizing those steps.

She said coding teaches children how to be problem solvers and how to think out challenges, such as ones they will be confronted with in life, at school, and when they get jobs in the real world.

“We are living in a digital age. Everything is about robots. Everything is about coding. Everything is getting digitized,” Agkpo said. “We want them to understand code and be creato”rs and innovators of coding, not just consuming the video games and the robots but to be participants in creating the codes, creating their own apps and their own video games.”

She talked about coding a video game as an example. First, she said, one character is created, then an environment is created such as on a playground, and then the story around the character and the environment is created.

“The goal is to create a video game that’s fun but that’s not too difficult to play, but not too easy to win,” she explained.

MLC students practiced their coding skills this past week for the Hour of Code. Later that week, they assembled Star Wars robots and entered a contest through littleBits.

In Millburn, students also participated in an Hour of Code event. The IEEE North NJ Chapter organized an event for children in grades kindergarten through fifth to “introduce them to the field of computer science,” according to an announcement on Facebook.

On Monday, Dec. 11, sixth- through eighth-grade students from the Hoboken Charter School’s Girls Who Code Club will code using kits provided by littleBits for Hour of Code.

“It teaches the kids a practical way of thinking and how to organize their thinking,” said Christopher Kunkel, math teacher and STEM coordinator at the charter school.

He noted, “there’s a lot of creativity involved as well,” because coders need to know what they want the game or animation to do.

CLOSE

Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium and LSC Giant Dome Theater — billed as the largest in the Western Hemisphere — opens at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.
Chris Monroe/Special to NorthJersey.com

Aptean Teaches Kids to Code During Computer Science Education Week

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Dec. 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Aptean, a leading global provider of mission-critical enterprise software solutions, joined companies across the country last week in hosting an Hour of Code event for local children at its global headquarters. Aptean held the event in support of Computer Science Education Week, a global effort to encourage youth interest in computer science and coding.

“It’s crucial to instill an interest in computer science, coding and web development in our children as early as possible, as more roles will require this knowledge by the time they enter the workforce,� said Aptean CEO Kim Eaton. “I enjoyed seeing the kids’ faces light up when they saw what they had designed. I think the event sparked their imaginations and may have created a few future developers!�

About 20 children ages 5 through 13 worked alongside their parents and Aptean volunteers to design a Star Wars-themed game using a visual programming language. Children also had the opportunity to experiment with text-based languages such as JavaScript. Aptean plans to expand the event to other offices and open it to the public next year.

“My kids loved it,� said Ginger Laney Clopper, MA operations director for Aptean. “The activities felt like fun games, and they felt a big sense of accomplishment when they were able to code their own creations. At the event we hosted kids with all different levels of experience, and everyone got to try something new. I’m glad that Aptean is committed to sponsoring more Hour of Code events to reach more kids in the larger community.�

For more information about Computer Science Education Week, visit https://csedweek.org/. For more information about the Hour of Code, visit https://hourofcode.com/us. 

ABOUT APTEAN

Aptean is a leading global provider of mission-critical enterprise software solutions. We build and acquire industry-focused solutions to support the evolving operational needs of our customers. Our solutions help more than 7,000 organizations stay at the forefront of their industries by enabling them to operate more efficiently, thereby ensuring higher customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.aptean.com. 

Aptean is a trademark of Aptean, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Media Relations
Stephanie Zercher, Aptean
Stephanie.Zercher@aptean.com
678-681-9070

 

Springfield schools ahead of Ohio push for computer science classes

The Ohio legislature passed a bill that encourages computer science classes in Ohio high schools, but Springfield City Schools say they have been focused on getting students into these classes for years.

The bill, co-sponsored by a number of representatives and senators, do not mandate more computer science classes in schools but does require the state board of education to adopt standards and urges schools to look into adding computer science classes.

MORE: Springfield High hosts unique college fair

Springfield City Schools has tried to add these classes to the high school curriculum for a number of years already, Springfield City Superintendent Bob Hill said, and the bill is a step in the right direction.

“It legitimizes what we have been trying to do at Springfield High School,” Hill said of the bill.

Springfield offers students many computer science courses. Students can take robotics, video game design, coding and other classes at Springfield High School. Seventh and eighth graders also can take an introductory robotic and computer design class. Also, Horace Mann is offering a computer science class to sixth grade students.

The Springfield Dome also offers younger students courses in computer science every month.

“We know that technology is going to continue to expand and it is not going backward,” Hill said. “Here in Springfield, we bought in wholeheartedly with the belief that we are going to prepare our students not only in careers in technology but for careers in many other fields because technology is the basis of most what we do in society today.

READ: Springfield students to stage escape rooms

Springfield senior Isaac Buzzard has taken nearly every computer science course offered by the school. He said he appreciates getting to learn about computers and how they work.

“I grew up very poor and coming here and having the opportunity to do this kind of stuff is amazing,” he said. “I have learned a lot. I have had a passion for computers my whole life. I have taken every single engineering and digital electronics course here and I have learned so much of it.”

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Hill said he wants to expand computer science in the school, but state budgets and uncertainty about how schools will be funded prevents him from guaranteeing that the classes will continue to grow.

“As school funding continues to get cut, that puts us in an awkward position to figure out how we can expand or even continue these cutting-edge things we have done to benefit our students,” he said.

Another obstacle the school has to face is a teacher shortage, he said. Finding qualified teachers to lead classes in computer science can be difficult as most people with experience and a degree in the field opt to work in the profession as the pay is good.

EXTRA: 4 Kenton Ridge grads bring school spirit to Ohio State band

Hill approves of the bill for many reasons, he said, but he especially likes that it is not another mandate on schools.

“I don’t agree with anything being mandatory, that’s part of the problem with education that too many things are mandatory,” he said. “There are many other districts that do not have the community support that we have and are not able to do this thing.”



By the numbers

9: Different computer science classes that are offered to Springfield City High School.

250: Students

300: Elementary aged students who take computer science classes at the Dome every year.

Staying with the Story:

The Springfield News-Sun reports on education in Springfield and across Clark and Champaign County to ensure students are getting the best education possible.

Gov. Bullock touts computer science education at Ben Steele Middle School

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Why do women drop computer science?

Ann Marie Fred was 10 years old when her father brought home a used Commodore 64 computer—a vestige of the 80s—from work. Fred, the girl who stayed after school to play Oregon Trail on the Apple computers, jumped at the chance to take advantage of her family’s new computer.

In addition to the Commodore 64, Fred’s father brought home a monthly computer programming magazine with simple programs that played songs or changed the colors of pixels on the screen. Fred said her first experience with programming was copying the programs from the magazine and modifying them to see what would happen. This was the first foray into tech for Fred, who now works for IBM.

“I never took a real programming or computer science class before I got to Duke, but I loved computers from the beginning,” said Fred, who graduated from Duke with a B.S. in computer science in 1999.

Fred’s story is not unfamiliar to many of the women in computer science The Chronicle spoke with. For them, exposure to computers and programming prior to college was key to staying in the field and could help explain computer science’s female recruitment problem.

Susan Rodger, director of undergraduate studies for computer science, wrote in an email that the department is aware of the low numbers of women in computing. However, they have made several changes over the past few years to mitigate the problem. Rodger, who is also professor of the practice of computer science, wrote that the department has tried to attract women to introductory courses such as CompSci 101.

“In 2010, we changed the programming language we use in that course from Java to Python, as we saw Python to be easier to learn for beginners,” she wrote. “It is more ‘English-like’ and more forgiving with errors. But more importantly we have tried to make CompSci 101 appealing to a broader group of students by focusing our problem solving with a wide range of problems.”

By one metric, the department has been successful. According to data obtained by The Chronicle, this semester’s CompSci 101 course is about 47 percent female. However, that success in female recruitment has not extended to female retainment—something Rodger wrote the department is currently working on. In CompSci 201, women make up about 36 percent of the class, yet that number drops to about 27 percent in CompSci 230.

“Our goal is to make the department more diverse at all levels—faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students,” wrote Pankaj Agrawal, chair of the computer science department and RJR Nabisco professor of computer science. “We have made progress in this direction but much more needs to be done.”

At the graduate level, female representation is even worse, but has improved over the past decade, according to data from the Duke Graduate School. The overall number of master’s students who have matriculated to Duke has increased 15-fold, but the number of female master’s students who have matriculated has only increased sixfold. For the Ph.D. program, there has been an even greater rise. In 2008, 10 percent of matriculated Ph.D. students were women. That percentage has risen to 25 percent for the 2017-2018 cohort.

World population

Graphic by Likhitha Butchireddygari

Another interesting data point is the acceptance rate for women in graduate programs. From 2012 to 2016, the acceptance rate for female applicants was slightly higher in the master’s program. But, for the last two cycles, it has been lower. Since 2008, the number of female applicants to the master’s program has increased sixfold.

Interactive by Likhitha Butchireddygari

Ruth Willenborg, Trinity ‘85 and retired distinguished engineer at IBM, said that since graduating from Duke, female representation in tech has not changed much. In fact, it is a national issue. Although women represent nearly half of the workforce, only about 12 percent of engineers are female, according to computerscience.org.

‘The confidence thing’

Senior Shelley Vohr, who knew she wanted to be a software engineer before college, said her experience with programming prior to college motivated her to stay in the program.

Fred added that those who come into computer science without any understanding of it may find it harder to feel like they belong in the field.

“One of the things that people struggle with in early classes is they feel like a lot of their peers, especially their male peers, have had exposure to computer science before,” Vohr said. “So, they feel like they’re less qualified, so they have a harder time pursuing it because they don’t think they’re going to succeed.”

Kate O’Hanlon, a third-year Ph.D. student in computer science, echoed some of the other women’s comments. In explaining why she stayed with computer science, O’Hanlon noted that she studied computer science at an all-girls college, which had more of a welcoming environment.

“The other main thing is the confidence thing. I don’t like to say that women are less confident, but we are socialized to be less confident,” O’Hanlon said.

Vohr noted that it was easier to avoid a discouraging environment in her classes because she could choose the people she worked with. She has benefited from the size of Duke’s undergrad computer science majors, with computer science being one of the most popular undergraduate majors at Duke.

The Ph.D. program, however, tells a different story. Although dozens of students graduate with an undergraduate degree in computer science, O’Hanlon’s Ph.D. class includes slightly more than a dozen people. In the 2008-09 cohort, 44 women applied to the Ph.D. program in computer science compared to 63 for the 2017-18 cohort, according to admissions data from the Graduate School. Of those 63 women, 12 were accepted, making it the highest percentage of accepted female applicants since 2010. Of this group of women, five matriculated. 

Duke has also seen an increase in female role models in the computer science department over the past few decades. Rodger, who has been at Duke for more than 20 years, wrote that the number of female computer science professors has tripled during her time.

During Rodger’s first three years, the department only had three women faculty. Today, that number is up to a grand total of 10, three of whom are secondary appointments.

A male-dominated culture

O’Hanlon noted that the computer science department does a good job providing support for women, but not singling them out. She said that for the most part, she has not noticed being the one of very few women in her classes. 

But, there was one class in which she did notice the gender divide, as she was the only female and computer science student amongst male electrical and computer engineering students. The class had an odd number of people and the professor kept splitting the group into pairs.

“I did end up withdrawing from the class because as the only female and the only CS person and keeping being forced to break into these pre-existing groups was just too hard,” O’Hanlon said.

O’Hanlon has also noticed differences in how men and women communicate. She said that there have been times when she was frustrated by the directness and competitiveness of her male peers. But, she attributed some of the frustration to her familiarity with an all-girls environment in undergrad.

“That has been a little bit of struggle for me—just working in groups where I am the only woman there and the men are all communicating in a very direct, almost rude way compared to what I’m used to,” she said.

As a graduate teaching assistant, she noted how sometimes female undergraduates are more “polite” when asking for help than men, but that men are vocal in situations like office hours.

In the industry, Fred, who said she was not speaking on behalf of IBM, noted that insensitive statements have been directed at her. For example, people have suggested that because she is a woman, she is infallible and would not be fired. She said she has gotten good at calling out those who have made such remarks.

Though many of the women The Chronicle spoke with described hearing insensitive remarks and unpleasant cultures, none of them reported instances of harassment in their experience, but they do believe harassment is an issue for the industry.

Engaging men

Over the summer, multiple women in Silicon Valley spoke out against a “culture of harassment.” One notable instance involved former men’s basketball player Justin Caldbeck, Trinity ’99 and a venture capitalist. In June, The Information reported that half a dozen women said they faced unwanted advances from Caldbeck, who has since been ousted from his company. Caldbeck recently visited Duke to talk about “bro culture.” 

“I think this underscores how important it is to teach all of your managers and [human resources] how to stop harassment and retaliation,” Fred, who has not had issues with HR at her company, said.

Vohr, who works for GitHub, said that she believed the culture of a company is very much influenced from the top.

“If you have leadership at a company that’s really focused on not letting that culture get out of hand, then I think that trickles down,” she said. “You notice it a lot at smaller companies that may be lacking HR, may be lacking other important functions.”

Despite these potential roadblocks, many women are still motivated to be successful in the industry. Vohr said that one mindset some people take is to ignore equity issues and focus on themselves, but that does not work for her.

“Personally, [comments] do tend to roll off me, but that doesn’t mean they roll off of other people,” Vohr said. “It’s easy to be like ‘This doesn’t affect me,’ so I can stick my head in the sand and not worry about it. But, that doesn’t really help anyone.”

Willenborg also suggested that more of an effort needs to be made to involve women in the nontechnical aspects of the industry. This would include designing the interface or interacting with clients.

All the women interviewed agreed that involving men in conversations about female representation was part of the solution. Fred noted that doing so starts with building trust with male peers.

“The best conversations I’ve had around this have been with men I’ve been working with for a while, usually in a pretty informal setting, like over lunch or at a party at somebody’s house,” she said. “Then, they’re more willing to open up about it.”

Students learn to code during Computer Science Education Week

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KGWN)- Microsoft hosted an “Hour of Code” Saturday at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.

Elementary students in 4-H had the opportunity to participate in a fun, interactive coding session. The event is part of Microsoft’s mission to engage and inspire students to code.

Coding skills are now required in nearly every industry, from manufacturing to retail, but a majority of young people don’t have access to programs that teach these skills.

Microsoft says it is extremely important for children to have access to computer science education so that they are prepared to participate in today’s digital economy.

In 2016, only six high school students in Wyoming took the AP Computer Science exam.

Students interested in learning code can start by visiting Code.org.

Making a career change? Get a comprehensive tour of computer science with these online courses.

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

If you thought you missed your chance to major in computer science when you opted for art history in college, there’s good news after all. There are such things as second chances, and thanks to the influx of online learning, gaining a new skill set won’t require you to dip into your savings. This Computer Science training is just $39 — that’s equivalent to just 4.8 months of Netflix.

The Computer Science Advancement Bundle features eight classes that will help you make a career in tech, no matter what you do now. Here’s a breakdown of each course:

First, learn how to code

2b96a_https%253A%252F%252Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%252Fuploads%252Fcard%252Fimage%252F670329%252F16bc43fb-f7ee-44ac-a07b-76cff5c1926f Making a career change? Get a comprehensive tour of computer science with these online courses.

Image: pexels

Break Away: Programming And Coding Interviews

A great introduction to tech jobs, this course will walk you through the job interview process for programming and coding careers. The team behind this course has conducted hundreds of interviews at Google and Flipkart, so they know what they’re talking about and will give you the heads up on the kind of programming problems that might come up in an interview.

The Fintech Omnibus: Theory and Practice in Python, R, and Excel

The Fintech Omnibus will walk you through risk modeling, factor analysis, numerical optimization, and linear and logistic regression using real models and examples. You’ll learn a ton about value-at-risk, Eigenvalue decomposition, modeling risk with covariance matrices, and the method of least squares.

The Web Development Omnibus: jQuery, AngularJS, and ReactJS

This comprehensive course covers jQuery, AngularJS, and ReactJS, which are essentially the building blocks of many websites. After accessing these 212 lectures and 21 hours of content, you should be able to build interactive websites from scratch. 

Software Testing Omnibus: Sikuli, Selenium, JUnit, and Principles of Testing

This 145-lecture course will teach you all about software testing, with a focus on Sikuli, Selenium, and JUnit. By the end of the class, you’ll be able to write tests and test user interactions with confidence and ease.

Get in on Big Data and Machine Learning

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The Big Data Omnibus: Hadoop, Spark, Storm, and QlikView

After these 120 lectures on big data, you’ll be able to install Hadoop in different modes, manipulate data in Spark, run a Storm topology in multiple modes, and use the QlikView In-memory data model. Using these tools, you’ll glean insights from enormous amounts of data in the way both major and minor corporations do. 

Machine Learning and TensorFlow on the Google Cloud

TensorFlow is an open source software library for machine intelligence. Using TensorFlow and Google Cloud, you’ll learn all about neural networks and machine learning principles.

Don’t forget the Cloud

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GCP: Complete Google Data Engineer and Cloud Architect Guide

Google Cloud is key for high-end machine learning applications (because TensorFlow is also from Google). This guide will put you on the certification track to become a Google Data Engineer or Cloud Architect through 166 lectures and 22 hours of content.

Tap into product strategy

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Time Capsule: Trends in Tech, Product Strategy

While it’s important to know all the latest tech, it’s also important to remember the past (lest you repeat it). This Time Capsule course examines trends all the way from 1994 to today and talks about why different sites thrived while others floundered.

Get the Computer Science Advancement Bundle now for just $39 — a massive 97% discount off its $1,492 retail price.

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Kids show off coding skills as schools expand computer science curriculum – The Herald

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Bots help students learn computer science

BROWNSTOWN

Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick watched as small Ozobots circled around a track on a desk in Brownstown Central Middle School’s library.

The Ozobots, small car-like figures, would change speeds, turn in every direction, back up and more.

During her interaction with students involved with programming the Ozobots as part of the school’s Hour of Code club, McCormick said she found the program impressive.

McCormick visited the school Thursday morning as part of National Computer Science Week and has since visited other schools in the state to see how each is using similar technology.

Sixth-graders Brett Coombs and Keetan Burcham-Jones talked to McCormick about how the OzoBots are programmed by color codes drawn by markers on a track made of poster board.

A blue, black, blue code make the Ozobots go fast. A green, black, red code would lead to a left turn. A green, red, green, red code would command a spin.

McCormick said students and families should feel lucky to have a program within their school system that gives students a different set of skills.

“They’re very fortunate to have this opportunity,” she said following the tour.

McCormick said Brownstown Central’s program could serve as a template for schools across the state.

“Part of our goal is to go see best practices and then go share that with folks,” she said.

She said Brownstown was an example of best practices and was impressed the school had such a program given its size. The quality of the program is credited to the commitment of a number of people in the corporation, she said.

“I come from a smaller district myself, so I know resources are always scarce for all of us, but the commitment to this says a lot about the central office, to the principal, to the teachers, to the instructional assistant,” McCormick said.

McCormick said she remains realistic about how long it may take to offer similar programs throughout the state.

The issue is funding and finding personnel to implement such programs, which can be difficult given the budget constraints many districts face.

“To scale it, you have to have the resources to do it, you have to have human capital to do it and the financial resources for that and I’m very cognizant of that,” she said. “It takes a commitment and prioritizing and it’s important for all kids to have the opportunity. That’s what we need to work on, so from the governor’s office to the General Assembly and from our office and local levels there needs to be alignment there.”

The school started the Hour of Code program at the beginning of the year and spends an hour each Wednesday as a club to work on programming skills in a variety of ways, said Karen Ault, library media specialist. The idea for the club came from a survey of students last year about how the school needed to offer more clubs and time to spend in them.

“I knew there was a lot of interest in the Hour of Code among the students and they don’t really get many coding experiences other places,” she said. Last year, the school also became involved in a robotics program which allows participants to compete against other schools in robotics competitions. That program has generated even more interest in coding and technology and provided a springboard for the Hour of Code, Ault said.

“The robotics program and the Hour of Code do go a little hand-in-hand,” she said.

Twenty-six students are participating in the Hour of Code, Ault said.

Ault said coding helps students thing a different way and build a whole different set of skills than simply coding.

“We make them explain things to us every so often and you can see their minds working,” she said. “Things become logical to them.”

Ault said she feels the program may spark an interest in a subject a student may not have been aware of prior to joining the Hour of Code.

“I think in our area, many students may not know what’s really out there,” she said, adding some students may be familiar with concepts if their parents work in a certain industry in Jackson County.

“For most kids, they’re not aware and they don’t understand it’s not just controlling the robot,” she said. “It may be programming the robot, it may be fixing it when it breaks down or it may be updating and it helps to understand all the components.”

McCormick agreed and said the program seemed to stimulate the students’ interests in subjects and will learn skill that will benefit them no matter what direction they take.

“It’s important for kids because they’re engaged, it’s a great opportunity and it really works on skills they need regardless of what profession they go into,” she said.

Microsoft Connects K–12 Classrooms with Computer Science Professionals

There are nearly half a million open computing jobs in the U.S., but only 42,969 computer science graduates entered the workforce last year, according to Code.org.

Many experts, including former President Barack Obama, hope that better access to computer science at the K–12 level can close this gap.

With this in mind, Microsoft launched Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS), a program that connects high school teachers with a curriculum and a computer science professional who regularly volunteers in class.

TEALS, which launched in 2009 and now supports hundreds of schools in rural, urban and suburban areas, uses a co-teaching and lab support model to teach introductory computer science lessons, as well as Advanced Placement courses.

By empowering teachers to provide innovative educations, TEALS can help close the skills gap and get more students into CS degree programs. In addition, it can help students become more informed about the world they live in.

“There’s an immense need for everybody to understand the foundation of computer science,” says Anthony Papini, the volunteer manager of the TEALS program. “We live in an age where every industry has been touched by technology and our goal is to ensure that young people are no longer just passive consumers, but active participants, educated in the tools that they utilize.”

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Tech Mentoring Is a Win-Win for Students, Professionals

Lisa Miller, a programming and web development teacher at Medford Vocational Technical High School in Mass., says the TEALS program has given her CS students much-needed exposure to the tech industry.

My students have often never met somebody who is a computer science professional,” Miller says. “This is their opportunity not just to learn from the volunteers, but to learn about them and how they are doing this professionally.”

Papini says the volunteers, who range from professionals just out of college to retirees, are motivated to help students receive the same computer science opportunities that they have been afforded.

For Joanie Weaver, a Microsoft program manager based in Boston, Mass., the TEALS program gave her a chance to help ease students into CS concepts that might overwhelm them at the collegiate level and dissuade them from exploring the field any further.

“Trying computer science for the first time in college is difficult, especially when you feel the other students in your classes have been coding since they were five and you’re in a class so huge there’s no way the professor will know your name or even see your hand raised in class,” she writes on the TEALS website.

Partnerships Fuel Computer Science Education Growth

While Miller and Papini agree that Computer Science Education Week is a great way to initiate a spark for teachers and students alike, they both hope that it can act as a first step to developing a dedicated program in their schools.

Once that interest is sparked, Papini says TEALS accepts applications from educators and school leaders and then offers the curriculum and the professional development needed to create a successful CS program.

For more on TEALS, visit tealsk12.org.

DeVos closes out Computer Science Education Week at coding school

5ac02_DeVos-at-Moorefield DeVos closes out Computer Science Education Week at coding schoolBetsy DeVos with students at Moorefield Station Elementary (Betsy DeVos/Twitter)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos capped off Computer Science Education Week with a visit Friday to a public elementary school in Virginia where coding is as intuitive as lunchtime.

During her visit to Moorefield Station Elementary School in Ashburn, Virginia, DeVos “participated in a computer-coding lesson with students to learn about computer immersion programs and innovations across STEM education,” according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Photos from the school’s Twitter account show first graders telling DeVos about their their coding projects and other students using code to operate small toys and robots while the secretary observes.

“Great way to end #CSEdWeek with the students @MoorefieldES!”
DeVos wrote on Twitter. “The teachers have done a tremendous job incorporating
#coding into their curriculum…and the kids have caught on so fast! It’s
exciting to see what students actively engaged in their learning can
accomplish! #STEM”

Moorefield Station is one of just three coding immersion schools in Virginia, according to a report published in The Loudoun Times-Mirror earlier this year.

That means students at Moorefield Station Elementary spend at least 30 minutes every school day on coding activities, and computer science is foundational to the curriculum. Over the summer, before the program launched, Moorefield Station teachers learned how to code and the school received new equipment to support the initiative.

Like Moorefield Station, Virginia’s other two coding immersion schools are located in Loudoun County. Eight of the county’s 55 elementary schools applied for the program.

“There’s a significant gap between the students prepared to have jobs in computer science and the growing number of jobs available and needed in computer science,” Ashley Ellis, assistant superintendent of instruction, told the Times-Mirror in September. “We feel really strongly that we should be preparing our students for the jobs that they will have when they graduate and leave us.”

It’s that same idea that has prompted DeVos, as well as the entire Trump administration, to turn its attention to computer science education.

DeVos has made STEM education one of her key issues during her first year as secretary, focusing especially on computer science, and this fall, President Donald Trump directed the Education Department to spend at least $200 million annually on computer science education when awarding grants.

Pinkard Featured During Computer Science Week

Nichole Pinkard

Northwestern University’s Nichole Pinkard (PhD98), one of the nation’s first learning scientists, was highlighted in a National Science Foundation (NSF) computer science campaign for her work empowering middle school girls in the STEM fields.

Launched on Dec. 4 to kick off computer science week, the NSF campaign stresses the importance of computer science education and lauds the efforts of Pinkard and 11 other innovative NSF-funded researchers.

Pinkard’s team, which includes software developers, curriculum designers, and learning scientists, has created an online social network platform to power the Digital Youth Divas program.

Digital Youth Divas helps middle school girls develop STEM identities and learn design-based engineering and computer science in settings outside of school. In both online and face-to-face spaces, “the girls use circuitry, coding, and fabrication to design, create, and re-imagine items like jewelry and hair accessories,” said Pinkard, associate professor of learning sciences at the School of Education and Social Policy. “It’s also a platform for activities like music, dancing, and talking to friends.”

Northwestern University pioneered the field of learning sciences, and Pinkard was among the first class of graduates in 1998. Learning Sciences is now offered at the undergraduate level.

In 2017, Northwestern launched a joint learning sciences/computer science doctoral program, the first of its kind in the nation. Moreover, the School of Education and Social Policy has four faculty members — Michael Horn, Uri Wilensky, Eleanor O’Rourke and Marcelo Worsley — who are jointly appointed in learning sciences and computer science. 

Computer Science Education Week was established by Congress in 2009 to highlight the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science education across all levels. NSF funds research and development that leads to building rigorous and engaging computer science in schools across the U.S.

To read more about computer scientists who are making a difference, read the profiles of the NSF-funded researchers.

Asu Ozdaglar named head of Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Asu Ozdaglar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been named the new head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), effective Jan. 1, 2018. She has been the interim head of the department since July 1, 2017, when former head Anantha Chandraksan was named dean of the School of Engineering.

“Professor Ozdaglar is an inspiring researcher and has emerged as a true leader in the areas of optimization theory and algorithms, game theory, and networks,” Chandrakasan says. “Her vision and dedication as an educator have been equally impressive. She is both a tireless advocate and coach for her students, and she has been a strong advocate for educational innovation in EECS.”

A former associate department head in EECS, director of the Laboratory for Information Decision Systems, and associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, Ozdaglar has made fundamental contributions to optimization theory, economic and social networked systems, and game theory. Her research in optimization ranges from convex analysis and duality to distributed methods for large-scale systems and optimization algorithms for machine learning. Her work on game theory focuses on adaptive dynamics in networks and large games, and issues of new equilibrium concepts and computation of equilibria. Her research has integrated analysis of social and economic interactions within the study of networks and spans many dimensions of these areas, including the analysis of learning and communication, diffusion and information propagation, influence in social networks, and cascades and systemic risk in economic and financial systems.

Ozdaglar’s educational contributions to MIT are equally substantial. She has developed a range of graduate and undergraduate courses, including a graduate-level game theory subject and an undergraduate course on networks that is jointly listed with the Department of Economics. She played a leading role (with Costis Daskalakis and colleagues in course 14) in launching a new undergraduate major in 6-14: Computer Science, Economics and Data Science. She also served as technical program co-chair of EECS’s Rising Stars program in 2015. 

Ozdaglar is a past recipient of a Microsoft fellowship, the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching award, the NSF Career award, the 2008 Donald P. Eckman award of the American Automatic Control Council, and the Class of 1943 Career Development Chair. She was the inaugural Steven and Renee Finn Innovation Fellow, and won the 2014 Spira teaching award. She served on the Board of Governors of the Control System Society in 2010 and was an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. She is the inaugural area co-editor for a new area for the journal Operations Research, entitled “Games, Information and Networks,” and she is the co-author of Convex Analysis and Optimization (Athena Scientific, 2003).

Ozdaglar received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey, in 1996, and SM and PhD degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1998 and 2003.

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is the largest academic unit at MIT. It currently enrolls 1,274 undergraduate majors and 1,943 graduate students. In 2016-17, the department awarded 143 undergraduate, 260 master’s, and 94 doctoral degrees. EECS’s 130 faculty members conduct their research in four affiliated labs: the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL), and the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE). 

Highland Park HS shows computer science not just about writing code

Computer science teachers at Highland Park High School wanted to show the student body that programming is far less intimidating than they might imagine.

So they planned a week of activities specifically for students not enrolled in the school’s four computer science courses.

Mathematics teachers gave up class time during Computer Science Education Week to expose students to computer programming — perhaps opening windows to career possibilities that hadn’t been in their lines of sight.

“These students have no experience with computer science. We are just trying to give them a bit of a flavor,” said Theresa Edwards, one of the school’s computer science teachers.

Big Island students get hands-on experience in computer science

Nine-year-old Jayden Cortez generally plays Minecraft at home while tinkering around on his iPad.

On Thursday, the Chiefess Kapi‘olani Elementary School third-grader got to learn the concepts used to actually create the popular video game — by programming movements into a simulated piece of a Minecraft world himself.

“This is kind of brand-new to me but it’s fun,” Jayden said, hunched over his laptop screen as he dragged and dropped “blocks” of instructions — the basics of block-based coding — into the program workspace. “You get to play Minecraft, do new things in the game and also learn.”

Kapi‘olani is one of 14 Hawaii Island public schools participating this week in the Hour of Code, a nationwide movement designed to expose youth to computer science, “demystify” coding and forge student interest in the field at an early age.

Hour of Code began four years ago. Thousands of schools throughout the country now participate. It takes place each year during Computer Science Week, which runs through Sunday this year.

Participating students learn coding through a range of free tutorials provided by the nonprofit Code.org.

“(Computer science) is almost like a basic skill now for a lot of future professions,” said Kapi‘olani technology coordinator Jonette Fujitake, who led Thursday’s Hour of Code activities. “So the goal is to springboard or kick-start this whole idea of computer science and to get them excited about it. The hope with this program is that we continue. They are going to have to have this skill. We want to get them exposed now so they’ll get comfortable and … equalize that playing field when they’re older.”

“And the students are so into it,” Fujitake added. “They think they’re playing, but what they don’t realize is they’re creating lines of block code.”

For Hawaii students interested in computer science, the job outlook is bright: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for computer and information research scientists will grow 19 percent from 2016-26, which is “much faster than the average for all occupations.”

In Hawaii, there are 1,169 open computing jobs compared with 155 computer scientist graduates in 2015, according to Code.org. Nationally, there were 59,581 graduates in 2015 compared to 527,169 jobs available.

The average wage for a computing job in Hawaii is $80,734 compared with the state’s overall average wage of $49,430, Code.org said.

Nationally, just 40 percent of schools teach computer science, however, and in Hawaii just 12 schools offered AP Computer Science in the 2015-16 school year, according to Code.org.

At Kapi‘olani, technology is a focus of the school’s academic plan, Fujitake said. The school currently features a one-to-one technology device ratio for each child. Fujitake said students picked up coding concepts “extremely easily” and seemed to have gleaned additional skills through the tutorials, such as teamwork and problem solving.

“You can just see the gratification when they’ve conquered whatever the problem is they’re trying to figure out,” Fujitake said.

For Jearisha Souleng, 8, coding was a new but exciting endeavor. She and classmate Kaimi Andrews-Facchini, 8, laughed as they dragged blocks of instructions into the workspace portion of their screens Thursday, causing characters to move when code was “run.”

“It’s a little difficult and hard but fun,” Jearisha said, adding her favorite part is “just playing the game.”

“I’ve (played Minecraft) before on my mom’s phone,” Kaimi added. “I think this is fun because it shows you how to explore and learn.”

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.




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