September 21, 2016

Cleveland State works with municipal schools to provide computer ed

Cleveland State University, working with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and the Cleveland Foundation, have formed to create CS4ALL and try to bring computer science classes to all students in the Cleveland district.

The Cleveland Foundation provided a grant for $124,235 to fund Phase I of the project, which will offer computer science classes in all the district’s high schools within three years.

Cleveland State has made a broad effort to enhance computer science education for several years.

Since 2014 Cleveland State had a project funded by The National Science Foundation to develop a curriculum for new AP computer science classes and to train teachers which serves as a foundation for the computer science class project in the Cleveland schools.

According to Nigamanth Sridhar, professor of computer science at Cleveland State and lead investigator of the project, the grant funded by the Cleveland foundation will fund only the first year of the project, but will help with training teachers in the district.

“Phase I is just getting a small set of teachers trained and really make them a core that will become a resource based for the rest of the district,” Sridhar said. “We will work with them throughout the year and give them additional professional development, so really the grant that we have is only for one year, but based on this, we are looking forward to expanding to the rest of the district.”

Phase I has not only financed teacher training, it has also funded classes in several of the district’s high schools.

“There are seven high schools in the district that are now teaching these courses this school year and over the next three years we will expand to the rest of the district,” Sridhar said.

The training for teachers has three parts: one is a AP computer science course called “Computer Science Principles”; the second (course) is “Exploring Computer Science”; and the last course is a course module that fits inside an algebra class.

Depending on the school and students, the courses are not necessarily mandatory, but about giving students the option to have computer science courses available to them.

Sridhar said that CS4ALL has many benefits for Cleveland school students as well Cleveland State, such as helping students make better decisions about their lives.He said the project gives Cleveland State a national platform.

“The world we live in is largely a digital world and everything that you touch has computers, and having a basic foundation in computer science in K12 allows students to make a better informed decision about what they want to do with college,” Sridhar said. “For CSU, it gives us a place in a national conversation where among a very small number of partners across the country that are leading this effort, so it gives us national prominence.”

Sridhar has hopes of not only having CS4ALL in CMSD but to expand into other districts around CMSD.

“The goal is to bring computer science courses into primarily public schools and eventually all schools in K12,” Sridhar said.



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