Friday, November 1, 2013

unCon 2013 Session: Computer Science For All K-12 Students

Session led by Steve Vinter and Heather Carey

In a session led by Google’s Steve Vinter and Mass TLC’s own Heather Carey, unConference attendees tackled the issue of bringing education in computer science to all students, especially in Massachusetts. Only 559 of the approximately 70,000 graduating high school seniors in all of Massachusetts passed the Computer Science Advanced Placement Exam; despite having a relatively strong public education system, Massachusetts clearly lags behind in terms of computer and technology fluency. Session leader Heather Carey works with the MassTLC Education Foundation working to improve this gap.

Only two days ago, the MassTLC Education Foundation received a $350,000 grant from Microsoft to support the expansion of the computer science education throughout Massachusetts. The session allowed for discussion on the most effective ways of achieving this goal with questions like:

·         How do we raise public awareness about the benefits of having computer science as a key element of our education system?
·         What can we do to ensure that every students gets equal access to computer science, regardless of socioeconomic standings?
·         What will engage students to pursue careers in computer science?
·         How do we implement these changes in a way that will be realistic for educators?

The unConference brought together an incredible range of participants to the session offering perspectives ranging from the Department of Education, the tech industry, teachers, principals, and students. Each of these perspectives made for not only engaging conversation but also the development of real solutions to real problems.

-Jade Beguelin

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