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Thriving in Our Digital World

Thriving in Our Digital World
Calvin Lin
Calvin Lin

The College Board and the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced they will expand their initiative to improve access to computer science education in high schools. Computer science skills are increasingly critical in the world today and the program is designed to strengthen these skills among students, especially girls and under-represented minorities.

As part of this expansion the two organizations have endorsed three existing outreach programs, including a course called “Thriving in Our Digital World” that was designed here at The University of Texas at Austin. Calvin Lin, a professor of computer science, is the lead researcher for the program.

UTeach, a program of the College of Natural Sciences, is also involved in the initiative to prepare students for the new AP computer science exam. As a UTeach Institute web post notes:

Even as a number of national organizations and others work to launch new CS curricula, UT Austin's course is one of only three complete curricula currently recognized by the developers of Computer Science Principles as having faithfully implemented the framework.

Thriving in Our Digital World, an interdisciplinary, project-based course designed to introduce high school students to the big ideas in computer science, has been piloted with more than 700 Texas students and revised over the past three school years. The course focuses on current areas of research among real-world computer scientists—like Big Data, artificial intelligence, digital manipulation, and data security. The course was developed with NSF funding in 2010 by a team in the Department of Computer Science led by Dr. Calvin Lin.

Michael Marder, Executive Director of UTeach, commented, "Our UT colleagues in Computer Science have successfully developed and tested a high school computer science course that is very much needed, one that engages students who don't typically take computer science courses through inquiry-based approaches to addressing computer science challenges."

In an effort to further develop the course and make it available nationally, the UT Department of Computer Science has partnered with the UTeach Institute. UT computer science professor and course developer, Calvin Lin, added, "Our UTeach partners have a record of successfully expanding STEM education innovations. Their unique expertise in this area will go a long way to making this course available to many more teachers and students going forward." ...

The UTeach Institute anticipates that, as a result of this initiative, at least 6,000 students will gain access to rigorous Computer Science instruction and will be well equipped to take the new AP Computer Science exam.

You can read the College Board and NSF press release here. Read more about “Thriving in Our Digital World” here.

This post was updated on June 24 with new information from the UTeach Institute.

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Friday, 18 September 2020

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