Nextech, Westfield High School partner for computer programming
By Anna Skinner
Nextech and Code.org, both nonprofits centered around computer science, have partnered with a goal to bring computer science education to all Indiana K-12 classrooms. The partnership allows 70 teachers from 34 Indiana schools to be sent through a professional development program to provide up to 94 hours of computer science curriculum and programming through in-person workshops and online components to educators.
“All students in Indiana deserve the chance to learn the fundamentals of computer science,” stated Karen Jung, president of Nextech, in a press release sent to Current. “CS helps develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that will serve students well in today’s digital economy and prepare them for future success, regardless of the career path they choose.”
Westfield High School is using the program to aid in the establishment of an advanced placement computer science principles course for non-computer science majors. WHS teacher Matt Comer will participate in four professional development courses through Nextech and a daylong workshop to learn more on modules and planning for the AP class.
“The real push to the class is to get more involvement across demographics in computer science, mainly minorities and specifically females,” Comer said. “We are really trying to open it up to all students. Nextech and Code.org partnered up and sent me to Salt Lake City for the training. That was a great experience, learning the course from scratch.”
Comer spent eight-hour days learning the course over a week, and will participate in the various professional development courses throughout the year.
“Before this year and the brand new course, we just had AP computer science, which is heavy straight coding,” Comer said. “I think that before people could get involved in it, they were turned off by the course because it’s straight coding. The plan with this class (AP Computer Science Principles) is to make it more entry level, like an entry college course to get more exposure across all demographics. This is a great AP course for freshman, sophomores, or just anybody interested in learning more about computer science. It’s not easy. There’s still a lot of rigor, but it’s just not sitting down at a computer coding all the time.”
“Oftentimes, we think of our students here as digital natives,” Assistant Principal Bill Naas said. “They’ve grown up with computers and know how they work and don’t need this instruction, but the reality is these students know how to work certain things as far as technology is concerned, but they’re not proficient in understanding how the whole computer works. This is really helping students be introduced to the importance of computers and how important they are today and what they do for us.”
For more, visit nextech.org.
Indiana schools offering computer science courses this year
Six Indianapolis Public Schools, Beech Grove Community School Corporation, Carmel Clay Schools, Carroll Consolidated Schools, Cathedral High School, Christel House Academy, Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation, Diocese of Gary, Gary Middle College, Griffith Public Schools, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, Monroe County Community School Corporation, MSD of Wabash County, Northern Wells Community Schools, Richland-Bean Blossom Schools, School City of Hobart, School City of Whiting, Seymour Community Schools, South Montgomery Community School Corporation, St. Pius X Catholic School, Tell City-Troy Township Schools, Tindley Accelerated Schools, Traders Point Christian School, Westfield Washington Schools.