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IoT device created by iDEW students

One hundred twelve Indiana teachers attend virtual Computing by Design (CxD) Fellows workshop

August 26, 2020

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE)-funded CxD program kicked off on June 1, 2020 with an online orientation, welcoming teachers from across the state who had signed up to learn how to deliver computer science education for their students.

In 2019, the State of Indiana announced that elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Indiana would be required to offer at least one computing course to each and every Hoosier student by fall 2021. To address this critical need, the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI presented their successful Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) curriculum to the IDOE, which funded the summer training program. And then the pandemic struck.

Undeterred, the iDEW instructors pivoted and adapted the workshop for online delivery, limited to public and public charter schools.

The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) partnered with to promote the workshop and quickly attracted well over 100 applicants for the workshop, which was held June 1–July 2.

“The CxD Teacher Training program went extremely well, beyond our expectations, thanks to the creativity and dedication of SoIC faculty and staff who were involved with the program to effectively deliver this training virtually,” said Mathew J. Palakal, senior executive associate dean of the School of Informatics and Computing and iDEW program director. “We expect that these high school teachers will adopt the CxD curriculum in their computing classes to instill interest in computing careers among students. We are extremely grateful to IDOE for providing us with the generous award.”

Learning experiences benefit both teachers and students

The CxD curriculum is modeled on the project-based iDEW program currently in use at eight Indianapolis area high schools, and is driven by the CxD principles of Research, Design, Prototype, and Implement.

Holly Hook, who teaches a variety of business and computer science classes to grades 9–12 at North Montgomery High School, registered for both personal and professional reasons. “Personally, I love learning and expanding my teaching toolbox to better serve my students,” Hook said. “Also, pre-COVID, I was really excited to be attending a workshop on a college campus!”

“Professionally, this workshop seemed like it would be a good fit to start introducing project-based learning in my computer science (CS) classes. Ultimately, I want to create a capstone CS class for students and the CxD curriculum seems like a perfect solution,” Hook said.

Hook explained that “the most valuable aspect of this workshop has been the ability to complete tasks at my own pace, sharing information and getting feedback with cohort members utilizing Slack, and having the chance to complete different CxD projects myself!” It will also provide students a learning environment that mimics the industry setting, she added.

Mike Spock, who teaches math and computer science at Columbus North High School, was interested in the CxD workshop because of the project-based learning that it promoted. He was also looking forward to getting a chance to connect with other computer science teachers and share ideas.

“The CxD projects have a wonderful structure that I am excited to use with my students, in particular, in the AP Computer Science Principles class. These are great resources to teach my students programming and abstraction as well as teamwork and project management. The resources connected to these projects will help all students have success in computer science,” Spock said.

Spock is excited to try out the CxD projects with his students. “I hope that more students are drawn to computer science as they see what their classmates are able to achieve,” he said.

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Joanne Lovrinic