When teachers feel empowered and excited about computer science, their students benefit.
Luddy Indianapolis is working with Indiana public school instructors to expand opportunities in their classrooms. More than 420 different teachers from 307 schools in 71 Indiana counties have benefited from its Computing by Design (CxD) Teachers Training Program, funded by the Indiana Department of Education.
The 2022 workshops alone had 207 registrations—the largest number since the program began three years ago.
Participants praise the hands-on workshops, with one noting, “It was set up to create actual projects for us to use in our classrooms.”
Summer CxD sessions are among free workshops Luddy Indianapolis provides for the hundreds of public school teachers who are expanding computer science in their classrooms
“Teachers are ‘forever students,’ and I feel more connected with my students when I am learning and teaching skills relevant to the world we live in,” noted one 2022 participant.
“It is essential to our learners that we keep learning, too!”
Meeting the challenge of evolving tech
In 2019, the state announced it would require elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Indiana to offer at least one computing course to every Hoosier student by fall 2021.
To proactively meet the need for expanded computer science education, Luddy Indianapolis presented its Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) curriculum to the Indiana Department of Education, which funded the school’s teacher training program through two grants.
The summer CxD workshops have been offered at no cost to participants thanks to the IDOE grants and support from TechPoint, Indiana’s statewide technology business initiative.
Computing by Design workshops prepare teachers to offer computer science classes at their schools, enabling them to help their students acquire knowledge and skills that can lead to better job opportunities The workshops are conducted largely online through IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering in Indianapolis.
“The exploration was phenomenal,” said one 2022 participant. “I’ve learned about so many great tools I can use for my computer science courses.
“I also enjoyed just meeting other CS teachers. Many of us are the only CS teachers in our building.”
“I really loved this workshop,” said another 2022 participant, Janine Patterson, a math teacher at Terre Haute South High School. She came in with a knowledge of computer languages r and Python, and wants to learn Java as well.
“I double majored in college … math ed and computer science. But it was so long ago, CS has changed.
“This workshop gave me the motivation to continue to learn more about all of these languages,” she said. “I will definitely be empowering my students to learn more as well!”
Preparing students to become curious, confident problem-solvers means exploring the tech all around us, at work and at home: AI, the Internet of Things, video gaming, data visualization and more.
The 2022 workshops guided teachers on how to use fun, project-based lessons to help students develop skills that employers are seeking. Activities include charting data; creating a trivia game or chatbot; and building a robot or flip card app.
“I loved the wheeled robot workshop,” one participant said, “and I know my students will create amazing inventions.”
Instructors also learned about classroom management, and how to assess student projects. “I like that we designed lessons specific to our classrooms,” said another participant.
A lasting resource
While funding for the summer CxD workshops has ended, material for teachers will continue to be available online, through Luddy Indianapolis’ iDEW website. This resource allows teachers to help their students develop tech skills to prepare for the future, and what it may hold.
“The CxD workshops were designed to provide tools for teachers of all experience levels to offer innovative, project-based learning experiences for their students,” says Vicki Daugherty, iDEW program manager.
“Of the teachers who participated in 2022, 63% had little to no experience with computer science,” she notes, “and 70% of that group reported some worry in their ability to be successful. In the end, only one teacher reported the workshop wasn’t a good fit for their needs.
“In our experience, teachers willing to challenge their students to learn along with them have some of the greatest success.”