Tag Archives: CS Education

Computational Thinking from a Dispositions Perspective

(Cross-posted on the Google Research Blog.)

In K–12 computer science (CS) education, much of the discussion about what students need to learn and do to has centered around computational thinking (CT). While much of the current work in CT education is focused on core concepts and their application, the one area of CT that has not been well explored is the relationship between CT as a problem solving model, and the dispositions or habits of mind that it can build in students of all ages.

Exploring the mindset that CT education can engender depends, in part, on the definition of CT itself. While there are a number of definitions of CT in circulation, Valerie Barr and I defined it in the following way:
CT is an approach to solving problems in a way that can be implemented with a computer. Students become not merely tool users but tool builders. They use a set of concepts, such as abstraction, recursion, and iteration, to process and analyze data, and to create real and virtual artifacts. CT is a problem solving methodology that can be automated and transferred and applied across subjects.
Like many others, our view of CT also included the core CT concepts: abstraction, algorithms and procedures, automation, data collection and analysis, data representation, modeling and simulation, parallelization and problem decomposition.
The idea of dispositions, however, comes from the field of vocational education and research on career development which focuses on the personal qualities or soft skills needed for employment (see full report from Economist Intelligence Unit here). These skills traditionally include being responsible, adaptable, flexible, self-directed, and self-motivated; being able to solve simple and complex problems, having integrity, self-confidence, and self-control. They can also include the ability to work with people of different ages and cultures, collaboration, complex communication and expert thinking.

Cuoco, Goldenberg, and Mark’s research also provided examples of what students should learn to develop the habits of mind used by scientists across numerous disciplines. These are: recognizing patterns, experimenting, describing, tinkering, inventing, visualizing, and conjecturing. Potter and Vickers also found that in the burgeoning field of cyber security “there is significant overlap between the roles for many soft skills, including analysis, consulting and process skills, leadership, and relationship management. Both communication and presentation skills were valued.”
CT, because of its emphasis on problem solving, provides a natural environment for embedding the idea of dispositions into K-12. According to the International Society for Technology in Education and the Computer Science Teachers Association, the set of dispositions that student practice and internalize while learning about CT can include:
  • confidence in dealing with complexity,
  • persistence in working with difficult problems,
  • the ability to handle ambiguity,
  • the ability to deal with open-ended problems,
  • setting aside differences to work with others to achieve a common goal or solution, and
  • knowing one's strengths and weaknesses when working with others.
Any teacher in any discipline is likely to tell you that persistence, problem solving, collaboration and awareness of one’s strengths and limitations are critical to successful learning for all students. So how do we make these dispositions a more explicit part of the CT curriculum? One of the ways to do so is to to call them out directly to students and explain why they are important in all areas of their study, career, and lives. In addition educators can:
  • Post in the classroom­­ a list of the Dispositions Leading to Success,
  • Help familiarize students with these dispositions by using the terms when talking with students and referring to the work they are doing. “Today we are going to be solving an open-ended problem. What do you think that means?”
  • Help students understand that they are developing these dispositions by congratulating them when these dispositions lead to success: “Great problem-solving skills!”; “Great job! Your persistence helped solve the problem”; “You dealt with ambiguity really well!”.
  • Engage students in discussions about the dispositions: “Today we are going to work in teams. What does it mean to be on a team? What types of people would you want on your team and why?”
  • Help students articulate their dispositions when developing their resumes or preparing for job interviews.
Guest speakers from industry might also:
  • Integrate the importance of dispositions into their talks with students: examples of the problems they have solved, how the different skills of team members led to different solutions, the role persistence played in solving a problem/developing a product or service…
  • Talk about the importance of dispositions to employers and how they contribute to their own organizational culture, the ways employers ask interviewees about their dispositions or how interviewees might respond (e.g. use the terms and give examples).
As Google’s Director of Education and University Relations, Maggie Johnson noted in a recent blog post, CT represents a core set of skills that are necessary for all students:
If we can make these explicit connections for students, they will see how the devices and apps that they use everyday are powered by algorithms and programs. They will learn the importance of data in making decisions. They will learn skills that will prepare them for a workforce that will be doing vastly different tasks than the workforce of today.
In addition to these concepts, we can now add developing critical dispositions for success in computing and in life to the list of benefits for teaching CT to all students.

Majoring in CS and mentoring along the way

Posted by Natalie Ang, Student, California State University, Fullerton

Editor's note: Natalie Ang is a student at California State University, Fullerton, majoring in Computer Science. She started a Google igniteCS mentorship program with her ACM-W chapter, and led the effort to introduce younger girls in her community to the world of programming.

My journey in computer science began in a computer systems class I took my freshman year of high school. Due to the many times I had to compile my program just to receive an error warning, I soon learned that programming takes much patience and effort. I found myself ready to throw the school computer out of the window, but the hours of frustration melted away the instant my program worked smoothly. That moment would become the reason I chose computer science as my major.

During my college orientation, I was told that girls make up 15% of the engineering field. The truth behind that shocking statistic became a reality when I experienced my first programming class where only 6 girls enrolled out of 40. Rather than be discouraged, it made me excited to represent the potential of women in engineering and lead me to join the Association for Computing Machinery Committee on Women (ACM-W) club. Like me, their goal is to increase the number of girls in engineering.

After becoming president of ACM-W, my club came across a program called Google igniteCS where groups can receive funding for their mentorship program. I knew that this opportunity would expand the club’s collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Orange County, so my team quickly applied with high hopes. When we found out that our club received funding, all of us were overjoyed and ready to put this money toward exposing young girls to the world of programming. For the next few months, the ACM-W hosted five events, each of them focused on teaching young girls scouts the countless possibilities involved with programming and where it can lead.

It wasn't easy creating the lesson plans from scratch or keeping everyone in the club organized, but we did it. Google not only gave us funds, but also the tools and suggestions to make our events successful. I'm fortunate to be a part of igniteCS and having the opportunity to share my passion for programming with other girls. Whenever I see their eyes light up from completing a task by themselves, I know that I am working towards the first step in increasing passion for engineering.
Another mentor and I set up Google Cardboard to use during a Google igniteCS session

Two of our mentees enjoying their Cardboard experience
igniteCS has allowed me to spread my passion for computer science and make a difference in the lives of girls in my own community. Through working with Google and the igniteCS team, I had the resources and support I needed to create a mentorship program that had the most impact. I am glad that I applied to igniteCS, and you should too!

igniteCS is accepting applications August 22nd - September 18th, 2016. To learn more, please visit our website at g.co/igniteCS. For more information about the application process, participate in our Hangout on Air on August 17th.

Project Bloks: Making code physical for kids

When we were kids, physical things like toys and blocks helped us learn—inspiring curiosity and imagination in a fun, playful way. We think there’s no reason that shouldn’t also be possible when it comes to Computer Science.

When kids learn to code, they’re not just learning how to program computers, they’re learning a new language for creative expression and developing computational thinking: a skillset that will help prepare them to solve all kinds of problems. Making code physical — known as tangible programming — offers a unique way to combine the way children innately play and learn with computational thinking.

Earlier this week we announced a new research initiative called Project Bloks. The project is a collaboration between Google, IDEO and Stanford’s Paulo Blikstein, inspired by — and building upon — a long history of educational theory and research in the field of tangible programming.

The ultimate goal of Project Bloks is to create an open hardware platform for physical programming experiences to help kids develop computational thinking through play. By creating an open platform, Project Bloks will allow designers, developers and researchers to focus on innovating, experimenting and creating new ways to help kids develop computational thinking. Our vision is that, one day, the Project Bloks platform could become for tangible programming what Blockly is for on-screen programming.

As a first step, we’ve created a system for physical programming and built a working prototype with it. We’re sharing our progress before conducting more research over the summer to inform what comes next.

Want to get involved?
We are currently looking for participants (educators, developers, parents and researchers) from across the globe who are interested in helping shape the future of Computer Science education by remotely taking part in our research studies later in the year. If you would like to be part of our research study or simply receive updates on the project, please sign up here.

For more detailed information about the technology behind Project Bloks, check out our recent post on the Google Research Blog and our position paper. And to learn more about our other initiatives aimed at driving CS education forward and helping kids develop computational thinking skills, check out programs like CS First and Made with Code; and tools like Coding with ChromeBlockly and Pencil Code.

Developing mobile apps with the Android Basics Nanodegree

When empowered with the right CS skills, we believe that each person can use technology to accelerate change towards a better world that they envision. So in partnership with Udacity, we’re launching the Android Basics Nanodegree: a free online curriculum for building basic Android apps. No previous programming experience required. Anyone —of any skill level— can access the content, take it at their own pace, and learn how to create Android apps. All of the individual courses that make up this Nanodegree are available at no charge at udacity.com/google.

Included in this launch is the Android Basics Facilitator’s Guide, which is an instruction manual that enables students, parents, and teachers to conduct in-person study groups via a blended learning model. This guide can be used in a variety of formats, adjusted for style or preference. Facilitators can vary the number of days, the length, the specific topics taught and more.

The curriculum offers a step-by-step approach on building several different types of Android apps. Through a “just-in-time” approach, students are actively exposed to fundamental computer science concepts, continuously learning as they build more complex apps. Along the way, students become familiar with the Java programming language — from variables and data types to more advanced object-oriented principles, HTTP networking concepts, and how to store data in a SQLite database.

Students can immediately start building layouts for Android apps using the XML language. They use Android Studio, the same official tool that professional Android developers use to write their apps. Students learn important software development skills such as how to identify and fix unexpected issues, read code for an existing app, and how to search for information on their own. They will also hear from professional developers, who are applying the same concepts from the classroom to popular apps like Google Play and Gmail.

Through each of the 6 courses, students gain first-hand experience by building apps designed for real-world experiences like placing orders in a coffee shop, tracking pets in a shelter, teaching vocabulary words from the Native American Miwok tribe, or reporting recent earthquakes in the world. By the end, students will have built an entire portfolio of apps to share that show off all their hard work.
Upon completing the Android Basics Nanodegree, students can continue learning with the Career-track Android Nanodegree (for intermediate developers). The first 50 participants to finish the Android Basics Nanodegree have a chance to win a scholarship for the Career-track Android Nanodegree. Additional details and eligibility requirements can be found here.

Students can enroll in the individual courses here. We recommend signing up with friends and classmates, to create a support group for sharing work and asking questions. In addition, students can sign up for the full Nanodegree on Udacity to gain access to coaches who can help them stay on track, provide career counseling and guidance on their projects. They can receive a certificate upon completion for a fee.

Students who have gone through the course are building incredible apps that put their new skills to work. For example, Arpy Vanyan created the "ROP Tutorial" app to raise awareness of a potentially blinding eye disorder called Retinopathy of Prematurity that can affect newborn babies.
The ROP Tutorial app, created by student Arpy Vanyan, raises awareness of Retinopathy of Prematurity in newborns
Or Fadli Wilihandarwo who built “Pasienia,” an app connecting patients with the same disease in order to offer support and open communication.
Paisienia is a health support group app, created by student Fadli Wilihandarwo
Parents and Guardians 
Android development can be also be a fun family activity, with parents learning right alongside their children. But even if parents or guardians don’t have a background - or prior interest - in this topic, research shows that their encouragement can help motivate children to continue persisting through the course.

Meet Wendy Bravo and her 11-year-old daughter Katia. They started taking the Android Basics courses together, which sparked Katia’s desire to learn more about programming. It was difficult to find local in-person STEM courses for Katia’s age, but with the Android Basics courses, she and her mother were both able to learn.

Teachers and Sponsors
Teachers who want to inspire their students to learn CS through Android app development can use the online videos in their classroom to supplement existing lesson plans. Suggestions for in-person classroom activities to complement the online coursework are included in the facilitator’s guide, along with methods of adjusting the format. Teachers can also sponsor study groups during or after school to encourage students to complete the course content together.

Check out the curriculum or enroll in the Android Basics Nanodegree program. With this complete learning path, you can teach yourself to become a technology entrepreneur, and best yet, build cool Android apps for yourself, your community, and even the world.

Announcing Google Cloud Platform Education Grants for computer science

While university students are on their summer holidays, internships or jobs, their professors are already hard at work planning for fall courses. These course maps will be at the center of student learning, research and academic growth. Google was founded on the basis of the work that Larry and Sergey did as computer science students at Stanford, and we understand the critical role that teachers play in fostering and inspiring the innovation we see today and will see in the years to come. That’s why we’re excited to offer Google Cloud Platform Education Grants for computer science.

Starting today, university faculty in the United States who teach courses in computer science or related subjects can apply for free credits for their students to use across the full suite of Google Cloud Platform tools, like App Engine and the Cloud Machine Learning Platform. These credits can be used any time during the 2016-17 academic year and give students access to the same tools and infrastructure used by Google engineers.
Students like Duke University undergrad Brittany Wenger are already taking advantage of cloud computing. After watching several women in her family suffer from breast cancer, Brittany used her knowledge of artificial intelligence to create Cloud4Cancer, an artificial neural network built on top of Google App Engine. By analyzing uploaded scans of benign and malignant breast cancer tumors, Cloud4Cancer has learned to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue. It’s providing health care professionals with a powerful diagnostic tool in the fight against cancer.

Google Cloud Platform offers a range of tools and services that are unique among cloud providers. The tool that Brittany used -- Google App Engine -- lets you simply build and run an application without having to configure custom infrastructure. Our Machine Learning platform allows you to build models for any type of data, at any size, and TensorFlow provides access to an open-source public software library (tinker with that extensive data here). Students will also be able to get their hands on one of Cloud Platform’s most popular new innovations: the Cloud Vision API, which allows you to incorporate Google’s state-of-the-art image recognition capabilities into the most basic web or mobile app.

We look forward to seeing the creative ways that computer science students will use their Google Cloud Platform Education Grants, and will share stories along the way on this blog.

Computer science faculty in the United States can apply here for Education Grants. Students and others interested in Cloud Platform for Higher Education, should complete this form to register and stay up to date with the latest from Cloud Platform. For more information on Cloud Platform and its uses for higher education, visit our Google Cloud Platform for Higher Education site.

Accelerating CS Education in Local Communities: The Stats by State

Nationally, 9 in 10 parents want their children to learn computer science (CS) but only a quarter of principals report offering CS with programming in their schools. Ever wonder what the stats look like in your state? Today, we're excited to release new reports that take a closer look for 11 states. These reports are part of our comprehensive multi-year research study with Gallup Inc. and cover the most populous U.S. states (CA, FL, GA, IL, MI, NC, NY, OH, PA, TX, and WI). For each state, we highlight insights about CS perceptions as well as challenges to providing CS education for all students, and we show how the state compares to the national average.
New reports on CS education for the most populous states as part of our comprehensive multi-year research study with Gallup Inc.
There's no silver bullet to increasing students' access and exposure to CS, but from our research, we identified four areas that we must focus on in order to move the needle. We found:

  1. The greatest challenges to offering CS included lack of qualified teachers for the subject matter and budget for teachers. 
  2.  Other school system barriers are a focus on testing requirements and low perceived institutional support, even with high support among parents and educators found in our previous report. 
  3. CS offerings at schools are limited and often serve select students. 
  4. Perceptions of what CS involves are unclear, with many principals confusing CS as basic computer literacy.

The reports provide more detail on each state’s unique challenges. Below, we share some local initiatives tackling the four key areas identified by the research.

Empowering CS teaching
Nationally, we found the #1 barrier to offering CS classes is lack of budget to hire or train teachers. At Google, we are committed to closing this gap by empowering teachers in local communities through CS4HS, a program that has funded CS teacher professional development worldwide and in over 37 states. Support from CS4HS and the National Science Foundation enabled Marquette University in Wisconsin to provide programming to double the number of CS teachers in the state. We also partner with Code.org and local leaders to expand the number of CS teachers across the U.S. In Georgia, they partnered with CEISMC at Georgia Tech as well as the Department of Education and Governor’s office to open teacher professional learning programs to the entire state. In Riverside Unified School District, the 15th largest district in California, CS First, our free program that helps anyone—a teacher, parent or volunteer—teach kids the basics of CS, began in just a couple schools and spread to the whole district, with the city embracing the program to reach its community of predominantly minority students.
Students in Riverside Unified School District in California learning CS First.
Photo credit: Marc Lyon Galang, RUSD Office of Communications
Collaboratively building support with schools
Unfortunately, teacher preparation isn’t the only challenge school systems face in implementing CS programs. Infrastructure and varied local implementation pose difficulties for schools. We support organizations like ACCESS in California, which addresses these systemic issues in CS education at a state-wide level while ensuring equity is interwoven. TASA’s Future-Ready Superintendent Network is also doing incredible work on the ground in Texas; we recently hosted them to share and brainstorm innovative ways to transform education and bring CS to their districts. And on the city level there’s been exciting engagement coming out of the Chicago Public Schools in Illinois through awareness building events with teachers, administrators and mayoral staff, and in New York City, Mayor de Blasio’s roll out of Computer Science for All has ignited support for CS education across the city.

Reaching diverse students beyond school
While these initiatives in formal education are exciting developments, none happen overnight. In order to broaden access for all students now, it’s equally important to engage in informal education. One such initiative we supported in Michigan is Hello World, a camp for middle school girls founded by high schooler Christina Li. Christina was recognized with the White House Champion of Change in Computer Science Education award and on Nickelodeon’s The HALO Effect. Our Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) provides opportunities for diverse students like KaMar Galloway to strengthen their CS skills and prepare them for a technical career. CSSI was instrumental in KaMar’s pursuit of CS at North Carolina State University and eventually his role on our CS First team, which aims to engage 1 million students in CS, particularly those from underrepresented groups.

Broadening perceptions and stereotypes
Lastly, we need to broaden perceptions and stereotypes of CS, which our research found are discouraging for many, especially girls and minorities. Google’s CS in Media team works with writers, producers and studios to help create more accurate and varied storylines about CS and to diversify media portrayals of computer scientists. Recently, we partnered with the Miami International Film Festival on a 4-day seminar series on gender and racial gaps in film and tech to increase awareness and brainstorm solutions. Googlers in our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office annually provide 60 teachers and 650 students with a real-world look into CS. In Ohio, HER Ideas in Motion aims to change stereotypes by providing female tech role models and project-based learning for girls across the state. In New York, ScriptEd brings software engineers (including Googlers!) into the classroom to teach CS and connect underserved students to internships. These volunteer engineers serve as mentors to build students’ confidence and perception of the field. Both organizations received Google’s RISE Awards for their high impact outreach.

We hope that these numerous initiatives and nonprofits will continue to drive change in communities and that the research we released today will support them by identifying potential challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned for more—we’ll be continuing our research with Gallup and this summer, we’ll be releasing two new reports focusing on demographic disparities and unconscious biases in U.S. K-12 CS education.

#CS4All starts with our teachers

President Obama's Computer Science for All (#CSforAll) announcement in early 2016 emphasized that “we live in a time of extraordinary change.” Computer science (CS) education is being recognized at the federal level as a catalyst for future success. Last month, we joined an open letter to Congress, a request for national funding that would give every student across the U.S the opportunity to learn computer science. The movement to provide quality CS programs is gaining momentum, and Google is proud to be part of the community working toward that goal.

We believe that it’s not only important for our students to be creators of new technology, but for our teachers to also have the opportunity to be innovators and out-of-the-box thinkers. A global study conducted by McKinsey found that one of the main drivers of excellence in the best performing schools worldwide are tools and programs provided for teacher professional development. These opportunities give educators access to share best practices and create improved resources for the curriculum and pedagogy of any particular subject. At Google, we are committed to supporting the professional development of teachers though CS4HS, an annual funding program for global CS teacher professional development opportunities at the high school level.

CS4HS awards bring professional development opportunities to high school teachers who often lack the support and resources to teach computational thinking and computer science in their classrooms. Research institutions or professional development organizations partner with communities of local high school teachers to help them build knowledge, skills, and confidence in teaching computer science and computational thinking through ongoing professional development opportunities.
2015 CS4HS Buffalo State University workshop
Almost every state in the U.S. is grappling with a need for more CS courses and professional development opportunities for teachers. In Nebraska, for example, only nine out of 144 schools (63 high schools and 81 middle schools) offer an IT-related course. Through CS4HS funding and a PD program created by the University of Nebraska at Kearney, teachers will be able to participate in workshops, near-peer mentoring, and a community of practice that helps them integrate CS/IT teaching methodologies into their classrooms, and inspire a new generation of young people in rural Nebraska to become creators of technology.

Programs like the one at the University of Nebraska at Kearney are growing on a global scale. Since the launch of CS4HS in 2009, over 20,000 teachers have been trained through CS4HS professional development opportunities, and over one million students have benefited from these trainings. Funding is awarded to applicants that demonstrate a sound pedagogical approach to CS and a foundation of an ongoing community of practice around CS professional development. This coming school year, Google is increasing its investment in professional development by funding 34 institutions in the US and many others programs worldwide. Check out the CS4HS site for more information, or to learn about the 2017 funding cycle.

Perhaps the most significant emphasis of the McKinsey study is that the “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” The solution lies in a community of advocates that extends beyond our teachers, and builds a culture of dialogue through administrators, parents, policy makers, and companies. By providing funding for CS professional development programs, Google is working to ensure that our teachers are best prepared to serve the next generation of creators, embracing this time of innovation and extraordinary change.

Change culture, not curriculum, to get more women into computer science

(Cross-posted on the re:Work blog)

Editor's note: Carol Frieze, PhD, is Director of Women@SCS and SCS4ALL, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. Jeria Quesenberry, PhD, is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Information Systems program at Carnegie Mellon Dietrich College.They are the authors of a new book, Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University which tells the positive story of how one school developed a culture and environment in which both women and men could thrive and be successful in computer science.

For over ten years, Carnegie Mellon University has been successful at enrolling, sustaining, and graduating women in computer science at a much higher rate than national averages. Here are six ways we made it happen.

In 2014, the incoming computer science (CS) class at CMU comprised 40% women at a time when the national rate for female CS graduates was around 14%. We set out on a ten-year long research endeavor to understand the story of how CMU got here. We tell that positive story in our new book, Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University, and here we’ll share the six primary takeaways that contributed to this success, which we believe are applicable to other organizations and workplaces.

1. Women do not need a “female-friendly” curriculum. Curriculum should depend on what we are trying to teach and learn, not on prioritizing one gender over another. Changes to improve the curriculum should be for the benefit of all students. Basing coursework on what people think interests women can perpetuate stereotypes. This approach can also be applied to the workplace. Women do not need “soft” or “female-friendly” roles -- career opportunities should be based on organizational needs, not on what we think we know about women.

2. Cultural change is the key. If the culture of a computer science program is dominated by “geeky stereotypical” archetype research shows that women and minorities (and even other white males) may feel excluded from the field. Data show that, in the case of CS, it is usually women and minorities and people with disabilities who are poorly represented. Efforts should be directed at being more inclusive of a wide range of personalities enabling all to have opportunities including leadership, visibility, encouragement, networking, mentorship, and advocacy. For example, in 1999, the CMU School of Computer Science dropped the programming admission prerequisite, resulting in a more diverse set of incoming students.

3. Culture can be changed at the micro level. Evidence for culture as the key also comes from other countries where girls are well represented in CS. In the US, there is a strong cultural belief that men and women are very different, so different that they are suited to different fields of study and careers. We need to change these perceptions and show that women can be successful in CS. We’ve witnessed cultural change within the CS department at CMU. For example, our student organizations, such as SCS4ALL and Women@SCS, promote diversity, which continues to be part of the larger CMU strategic plan.

4. Cultural factors are more important than gender differences. Men and women may not be so different after all. Our studies with CS majors at CMU show that men and women relate to computer science through a spectrum of attitudes and with more similarities than differences. Indeed, at CMU we’ve not seen the familiar, simplistic gender divide in attitudes to CS. We’ve seen similar attitudes even extend to identifying with the image of a “geek--” a word once shunned. In our studies, the only real gender difference centered around confidence levels, with men showing much higher rates of confidence than women. This is a cultural issue that reaches many areas, not just CS.

5. Institutional support is critical. Institutional support, such as administrative help, funding, and an explicit leadership vision, can signal the authorization and influence to show that diversity is an essential part of an organization’s value system. Support for the creation of a women’s group (or a group of shared ethnicity), can be valuable for building community and for increasing and sustaining the pipeline.

6. Success stories are important. Lots of people have documented the problem of low female enrollment in CS and women leaving the technology industry. But there is less sharing of the success stories. We need to hear more inspirational stories of success like CMU, including our approaches and recommendations. By showing more women how they might succeed in CS, we will help more programs -- and ultimately the profession -- become more inclusive.

Computer Science Education for All Students

Computer science education is a pathway to innovation, to creativity, and to exciting career prospects. No longer considered an optional skill, CS is quickly becoming a “new basic”, foundational for learning. In order for our students to be equipped for the world of tomorrow, we need to provide them with access to computer science education today.

At Google, we believe that all students deserve these opportunities. Today we join some of America’s leading companies, governors, and educators to support an open letter to Congress, asking for funding to provide every student in every school the opportunity to learn computer science. Google has long been committed to developing programs, resources, tools and community partnerships that make computer science engaging and accessible for all students.

We are strengthening that commitment today by announcing an additional investment of $10 million towards computer science education for 2017, along with the $23.5 million that we have allocated for 2016. This funding will allow us to build more resources, scale our programs, and provide additional support to our partners, with a goal of reaching an additional 5 million students.

With Congress’ help, we can ensure that every child has access to computer science education. Please join us by signing our online petition at www.change.org/computerscience.

Celebrating RISE Awards Winners Who Are Helping Increase Diversity in CS Education

In communities around the world there are barriers preventing many students from learning computer science (CS). Anything from Internet access to biases about the nature and identity of computer scientists can keep a student from pursuing or attempting CS. Unfortunately, the barriers posed by unconscious bias can be the most damaging because they aren’t visible. Stereotypes reinforce a very limiting message about who can succeed in the field of CS. I know this to be true from my own experience when I was told as a young girl that computers were too expensive for me to “play around with.” Sure, I may have accidentally erased the hard drive, but I also figured out how to recover the data - and I learned from that mistake.

At Google, we believe it’s critical that more students have the ability to explore, tinker and even make mistakes with computers. We know that computer science is a tool for change, and we want to see more students become creators, not just consumers, of technology. That’s why we are so excited to announce $1.4M in grants to our latest group of RISE Award winners: 34 organizations in 16 countries that are working to increase access to CS education for groups who are currently underrepresented in the field.

These organizations are engaging girls, low income communities, and other minorities to make sure that CS is available for everyone. Techbridge is integrating the power of everyday role models into its CS programs, showing that you don’t need to be a CS graduate to influence a child; Laboratoria is helping bridge the gender gap in Peru’s tech industry by running a code academy for young women from Lima’s lower-income areas. Visit our site to see the full list of RISE awardees.
Many of our RISE awardees are filling in the gaps in access to formal CS learning, and our hope in supporting them is to to make CS accessible to all students. Since 2010, we’ve supported more than 250 organizations through RISE. The program will accept applications again this summer at g.co/riseawards, and we’re calling all eligible CS nonprofits to apply!