Providing answers to general inquiries

Computer Science Track

What does BLI’s Computer Science Track entail for a participating teacher?

Participants complete a four-phased course that prepares them to effectively teach the Exploring Computer Science curriculum to students, as well as use technology and blended learning strategies in the classroom.

The four phases involve a combination of online learning and face-to-face workshops.

How long is the program?

The program begins in March 2014 and ends in July 2015. Another cohort of teachers will be accepted for a second program cycle that begins in March 2015 and ends in July 2016.

What is the Exploring Computer Science curriculum?

Exploring Computer Science is a nationally recognized curriculum developed with the support of the National Science Foundation. It is being implemented in districts across the country, most widely in the L.A. Unified School District with over 6,000 students served.

The Exploring Computer Science curriculum, which all participants will have the opportunity to teach in the fall of 2014, is designed to provide students with an engaging introduction to fundamental computing concepts.  The program aims to broaden student participation in computer science, especially for females and other underrepresented groups.  Exploring Computer Science has 6 units, although only the first 4 units are mandatory. The units focus on human-computer interaction, problem-solving, web design, programming, big data, and robotics.

How long does the Exploring Computer Science curriculum take students to complete?

Exploring Computer Science is designed as a year-long course on a standard 45-60 minute schedule.  A participating school commits to offering this course starting in the fall of 2014.  The Blended Learning Institute will work with schools using alternative scheduling formats, as long as the course is completed in its entirety.

What are the technology requirements for implementing Exploring Computer Science at my school?

The first four units of Exploring Computer Science combine online learning with hands-on activities. While 1:1 devices are not needed for every lesson, it is crucial that the teacher has easy and ready access to laptops or a computer lab for the course. Student headphones and microphones are also useful for certain components of the course.

What, if any, are the costs associated with offering Exploring Computer Science at my school?

All of the software used in Exploring Computer Science is free and most of the software can be accessed through a modern web browser and does not require a download. Exploring Computer Science does use robots in Unit 6, which requires the purchase of robotics kits, but this is optional. In short, there are no special or additional costs for Exploring Computer Science, beyond standard classroom materials (for example, copies of handouts).

Will teachers receive additional compensation for participating in the program?

Participating teachers receive compensation for participating in face-to-face workshops that take place during after school hours, on weekends, and over the summer.

Additionally participants are eligible to receive a certificate from Pace University in Blended Learning and Computer Science Instruction. This certificate is a valuable professional credential and recognizes a teacher’s satisfactory completion of the program.

What is blended learning and how does it relate to computer science?

Blended Learning is an instructional model that combines the best of teacher-led instruction with the smart use of technology. The iZone supports a community of over 250 schools dedicated to implementing blended learning, and created the Blended Learning Institute to support educators in leading this innovation.

The Blended Learning Institute’s Computer Science Track will expose participants to blended learning tools and strategies that support effective computer science instruction, including but not limited to how blended learning:

  • Provides students online access to instructional resources on computer science topics
  • Allows students to collaborate and communicate online
  • Leverages open education resources to support instruction of computer science concepts
  • Shifts the classroom to a student-centered environment
  • Supports hands-on learning (on or offline)

How does this program fit into the NYCDOE’s broader strategy for increasing student access to computer science?

The NYCDOE has a number of programs in place to expand access to computer science, including:

The Software Engineering Pilot (SEP) program is a comprehensive standards-aligned computer science and software engineering education program for grades 6-12. Currently running in 18 schools (9 middle and 9 high schools), SEP provides computer science curriculum, monthly professional development for teachers, ongoing coordination with the tech industry in NYC, and opportunities for students to showcase their work and learn more about the software engineering industry.

The Academy for Software Engineering and the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering are Career and Technical Education (CTE) high schools that focus on preparing students for careers in the software engineering industry.