November

Partnership with Code.org Brings Coding to K-12 Students

News Story: November 2, 2018

Code.org logo and children working on computers

Sacred Heart University has become the official partner of Code.org in Connecticut, joining a nationwide network that supports efforts to expand access to computer science in K-12 schools.

Code.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding computer science access to younger students and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Its vision is to ensure that every student has the chance to learn computer science, just like they do biology, chemistry or algebra, according to its website. The organization provides curriculum for K-12 computer science in school districts across the nation.

"Computer science is the curriculum of the 21st century," said Hadi Partovi, Code.org founder and CEO. "These skills not only provide a pathway to the careers of the future, but a foundation for basic understanding of the technological world around us. We're proud to welcome Sacred Heart University as a partner and look forward to supporting their critical work to prepare more teachers to teach computer science.”  

Professors Cenk Erdil and Darcy Ronan
Professors Cenk Erdil and Darcy Ronan

Through the partnership, SHU will provide professional development to educators throughout Connecticut and become the state’s hub for computer science K-12 education. Professors Cenk Erdil with SHU’s School of Computer Science & Engineering and Darcy Ronan of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education will lead the partnership as co-directors. Code.org will provide scholarships for eligible teachers through 2020, a funding commitment of over $200,000. More than 100 teachers each year will participate in workshops led by Code.org-trained facilitators, many of whom who are local educators.

“Code.org wants to change the state of computer science education in Connecticut from something available to a few, interested students to something accessible and normalized for all students,” Ronan said. “Because Code.org understands that teachers are critical to achieving this vision, they generously support professional learning. We are excited to partner with them in this important work.

“This educational movement, promoting computer science for all, mirrors the fast pace and transformative power of the digital revolution. Students are not only using technology, but creating technology. That’s a key difference. This represents a generational challenge for educators who, by and large, did not have these experiences in our own schooling. Code.org’s professional learning programs are designed for novice coders. Computer science for all includes teachers, too,” she said.

According to Code.org, Computer science teaches students 21st-century skills such as coding, algorithms, analysis of big data, creating an app and the ways of the internet. It also allows students to learn about logic, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity. Nine in 10 parents want their children to study computer science, but fewer than half of schools in Connecticut teach it. Through Code.org’s programs, students learn skills to create technology that can solve problems in their communities and in the world.

Erdil believes that if educators want to target the next generation of students for advanced subjects, they must do it now because, by the time those students get to college, it might be too late. Curriculum providers like Code.org enable students to study computer science in middle school and high school, Erdil said, adding, “They can also use computer science as a gateway to get introduced to other STEM areas.”

Through the partnership with Code.org, Erdil said SHU also has been working with Connecticut’s Department of Education and the Connecticut Computer Science Teachers Association to define formal pathways for teachers. “As SHU is becoming Connecticut’s hub for computer science education, we are also working with other stakeholders in the state to accelerate a recent bipartisan grassroots movement to highlight the importance of computer science for all students,” Erdil said.

For information about upcoming workshops or to sign up for updates, visit www.sacredheart.edu/code.