Category : Education

Ayanna Howard, Professor and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wouldn’t be where she is today without her undergraduate research experiences at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Growing up, Ayanna seemed to have a knack for math, puzzles, computers and gaming. By the time she started college, she had figured out her passion for robotics, and became a summer intern at JPL. The hands-on research experiences, the formation of a strong network of peers and advisers while at JPL helped motivate Ayanna to pursue her PhD and eventually a career in academia.

Studies show that undergraduate exposure to hands-on research experiences can profoundly influence a student’s academic and career path. This is particularly true for women who are underrepresented in computing and who may see research careers as “not for them” because of the lack of support when pursuing research careers and pathways to computing.

To get more women involved in research and computing, we’re providing 15 exploreCSR (Computer Science Research) grants to support universities running CS research-focused workshops for undergraduate women. These workshops, modeled on, and inspired by Carnegie Mellon University’s, OurCS, will help undergraduate women to enhance their research skills, create a sense of community with peers and faculty, instill confidence to problem solve beyond the classroom, and inspire and motivate them toward careers in research.

Here are the recipients (including Ayanna Howard!) who collectively plan to reach ~1,200 undergraduate women in 2018-2019:

California State University, Long Beach
Shadnaz Asgari, Associate Professor and Chair
Computing to Change the World for the Better: A Research-Focused Workshop for Women

Georgia Institute of Technology
Ayanna Howard, Professor and Chair
Improving the Academic Matriculation of Undergraduate Women in Graduate Computing (I.AM.GradComputing) Workshop

Howard University
Latifa Jackson, Assistant Professor
Broadening Participation in Data Mining (BPDM) Workshop

Indiana University – Bloomington
Suzanne Menzel, Senior Lecturer
OurCS: Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science

Louisiana Tech University
Benjamin Drozdenko, Assistant Professor
Cyber Research for Empowering Women Experimenters (CREWE)

Michigan Technological University
Jean Mayo, Associate Professor
Exploring Computer Science Research

The University of Texas at El Paso
Martine Ceberio, Associate Professor
Building Pathways to Graduate School as a Way of Recruiting and Retaining Undergraduate Female Students in Computing

University of Maine, Orono
Penny Rheingans, Director, School of Computing and Information Science
ResearchME: Maine Research Focused Workshops and Mentor Networks

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Danyelle Ireland, Associate Director, Center for Women in Technology
The CS-Impact Workshop Series: Exploring Opportunities for Undergraduate Computer Science Research & Graduate study

University of Michigan
Rada Mihalcea, Professor and Co-Director Girls Encoded
Building a Diverse Research Community: Introducing Women to Computer Science Research

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Maria Gini, Professor
Exposing students to undergraduate research opportunities, while guiding and mentoring them through the process

University of New Mexico
Lydia Tapia, Associate Professor
Becoming a Robot Guru Workshop

University of Pennsylvania
Chris Callison-Burch, Associate Professor
SPUR WOMEN: Support and Promote Undergraduate Research for Women

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
Nayda G. Santiago, Associate Professor
Increasing Hispanic Women participation in Undergraduate Computing Research

University of Washington
Richard Ladner, Professor Emeritus
OurCS@UW + AccessComputing

The selected group of grantees represent a diverse mosaic of faculty and institutions that brings a clear focus on cultivating and retaining a “critical mass” of women in computing, and a commitment to exposing undergraduate women in computing to foundational research training. As the workshops take flight in the new school year, we hope to share updates on each workshops’ progress and results.

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For students pursuing STEM degrees like biology, hands-on time in a lab can be as essential as time spent in the lecture hall or library. In fact, for many science-based degrees, it’s required. But getting access to a lab isn’t always easy. Many students don’t live close enough to a lab facility or a university that offers their degree of choice. Others find it hard to get enough lab time because student demand is too high or their school can’t afford to provide unlimited access.

Through its ability to take people anywhere, virtual reality can be a powerful resource for students who otherwise would not have access to the lab time they need to complete their degrees. We partnered with science education company Labster to create more than 30 virtual labs on the Daydream platform, where students can do their lab work in VR without having to walk, drive, or fly to a campus. These VR labs can be particularly useful to students and faculty at the rapidly-growing number of schools that offer online science degrees. 

Earlier this month, students in Arizona State University’s online B.S. in Biological Sciences program began working in these virtual labs for full course credit. Soon students at the University of Texas at San Antonio, McMaster University, and other institutions across North America and Europe will be able to do their lab work in VR as well.  

Through its ability to take people anywhere, virtual reality can be a powerful resource for students who otherwise would not have access to the lab time they need to complete their degrees.
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UsingDaydream View or the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream, students can do things that previously necessitated a physical presence in a lab, like examining organisms under a microscope and sequencing DNA. They can also do things that wouldn’t be possible in the physical world, like seeing and manipulating DNA at the molecular level and visiting Astakos IV, a newly discovered exoplanet being explored as a potential habitat for human beings.

Because there’s no time limit, students can review theories, concepts, and techniques as many times as they want. In addition, students receive personalized feedback in the app to help them understand which concepts they need to review, and which techniques need more practice.

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We’re hoping to make the virtual lab experience available to more students worldwide, including undergraduates, graduate students, and even high schoolers.

If you’d like to bring the virtual lab experience to your school, you can learn more at labster.com/vr.

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Excitement about computer science (CS) education is growing across the country—from educators and students to corporations, governments and nonprofit organizations alike. But as we work together to make CS education more available in the U.S., there’s a need for more scientific education research to determine the best way to teach CS—a fairly new discipline.

After consulting with many CS education experts, we realized that while some research existed, more was needed.

To better understand current research needs, we funded exploratory research and held a gathering of  prominent CS education researchers who advised us on current research needs. Using criteria they helped us develop, we invited more than 100 CS education researchers to contribute proposals for innovative new research.

Today, we’re excited to announce the recipients of the Computer Science (CS) Education Research Awards:

Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Associate Professor Karen Brennan

How do K-12 Teachers Assess Creative Work in CS Classes?

Making CS accessible for all K-12 learners requires opportunities for young people to feel interested in and connected to computing. Creative programming activities foster interest and connection, but uncertainty about how to assess programming as creative work makes it difficult for K-12 teachers to incorporate creativity in the computing classroom. This one-year study will investigate how CS teachers are currently assessing creative curriculum used to teach CS. This research will inform teachers, instructional designers, and researchers about classroom-level decision-making and design.

Indiana University Bloomington School of Education
Associate Professor Anne Leftwich

Examining the Impact of Socially Relevant Problem-based Learning Curriculum at the Elementary Level: Students’ CS Interest/Knowledge and Teachers’ Implementation Needs

This project will pilot a 6th grade student-centered Problem-Based Learning (PBL) with social impact CS curriculum that investigates what support tools can be designed to decrease instances of bullying in schools. The researchers will use a research practice partnership with local 6th grade teachers to improve our understanding of how PBL impacts students’ CS interest and knowledge at the elementary level, and what supports teachers need to facilitate PBL in the CS classroom.

University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Information and Computer Sciences
W. Richards Adrion, Professor Emeritus

CSforAll in Springfield MA: An Elementary CS/CT Curriculum Integration Pilot

This is a pilot study to integrate Massachusetts’ Digital Learning and Computer Science standards with CS and computational thinking (CT) concepts, learning progressions, and practices in core curricula at the kindergarten and grade 3 levels in the highly diverse Springfield Public School (SPS) district in Massachusetts. The researchers create, assess and revise 16-24 integrated CS/CT lessons in eight schools at each grade level. This project will help us better understand how to increase teacher knowledge and effectiveness for creating and teaching an integrated CS/CT K-5 curricula that reaches and engages diverse students.

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Yasmin Kafai, Chair, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

MADE (Music ArtDesign with Etextiles)

This program will introduce students in Career and Technical Education courses to more advanced computing concepts through electronic textile designs. Working together with Exploring Computer Science (ECS) high school teachers, the researchers will collect evidence of student learning and teacher practices to address critical questions about student growth in their CS practices, knowledge, motivation, and future projections. This project will provide curriculum prototypes for integrating arts into high school computing and help us better understand student learning and teacher professional development in Career Technical Education courses.

University of Texas, Austin
Carol Fletcher, Deputy Director Center for STEM Education

Project ROCS (Rural Opportunities in CS)

This project will produce a framework for collecting and reporting outcome measures that accurately show access to and participation in K-12 CS education, especially for students in rural communities. This project will develop viable solutions for measuring, scaling and sustaining equitable access to CS education within rural communities and other historically underserved populations.

Each of the selected grantees brings a unique and innovative approach to addressing current research questions. Stay tuned over the coming year for updates on program recipients’ progress and results.

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On Monday, Microsoft announced the acquisition of video-based social learning platform Flipgrid, used in 180 countries by more than 20 million pre-kindergarten to Ph.D.-level educators, students and families. Like Office 365 Education software, Microsoft will also be making Flipgrid free for schools so it’s easy for any school to utilize the software. Customers who’ve purchased a subscription from Flipgrid will receive a prorated refund.

The post Microsoft and Flipgrid unite to bring social learning to students around the world appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blo..

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Today we celebrate the seventh annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day and announce new technology and resources for people with disabilities. The goal of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about accessibility. For us, it’s also about digging deep into how technology can empower the 1 billion people worldwide who have disabilities. Not…

The post Bringing our accessibility awareness game today and every day appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blo..

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Editor’s note: For Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting how Google supports teachers—and today, we’re announcing six improvements to Quizzes in Google Forms to help teachers save time. Stay tuned here and follow along on Twitter throughout the week to see how we’re celebrating.

In the two years since we launched Quizzes in Google Forms, educators have expanded the possibilities of the tool both inside and outside the classroom. Today, we’re announcing six new features based on valuable feedback from teachers and designed to help educators continue using Quizzes in Google Forms in creative ways:

1. Quiz answer suggestions: Using Google’s machine learning, Forms can now predict the correct answer as a teacher types the question, as well as provide options for wrong answers. If you give a pop quiz on U.S. capitals, this new feature will predict all the right capitals for every single state—and even throw in some curveballs, like Charlotte Amalie and San Juan.

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2. Autocomplete answers:Machine learning is also helping educators save time with more predictive analysis. After you type one answer, Forms will now propose related answers. For example, if a question requires the days of the week as answer options, Google Forms will autocomplete the remaining answers. Additionally, this feature is now available in 14 languages, including Spanish, French, Chinese, German and Arabic. “I love this feature, it saves so much time. The ability to start typing something and have Forms start suggesting things before you’re even done typing is pretty cool,” says Chris Webb, a math teacher at John Rennie High School in Montreal.

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3. Automatically grade checkbox and multiple choice grid questions:Grading quizzes can be time consuming, which is why we built a new way to automate the process. Now, in checkbox grid and multiple choice grid-style questions, you can denote correct answers in the answer key, and completed quizzes are automatically assigned points based on answers. “Previously, there was a lot of repetition for teachers trying to ask these types of questions. But this [feature] saves time, collects all the data in a sheet in a way that’s really smart, and gives teachers full control over grading,” says Webb.

Automatically grade checkbox and multiple choice grid questions
4. Give decimal grades:You can give partial credit on a paper quiz, and now you have the same flexibility in Google Forms. If an answer is partially correct, you can give a half or quarter point, making grades more precise. Like all grades in Google Forms, these are automatically added up and can be synced with Google Classroom.

5. Improve understanding with YouTube video feedback:You can now give highly customized feedback to students by attaching a video from YouTube. If a student doesn’t understand a concept or could use extra practice, link them to any YouTube video so they can review material on their own.

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6. See the total number of points in a quiz:Teachers told us they would like a way to quickly reference the total number of points in a quiz as they’re editing. Now, there’s a tally of points at the top of the quiz that updates as you create or edit questions.

These updates are rolling out over the next couple weeks. With Google’s machine learning within Forms, creating quizzes and grading is now faster, easier, and more automated and customizable than ever before. We hope these new features give even more time back to hard-working educators!

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Editor’s note: For Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting a few ways Google is supporting teachers—including Tour Creator, which we launched today to help schools create their own VR tours. Follow along on Twitter throughout the week to see more on how we’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week.

Since 2015, Google Expeditions has brought more than 3 million students to places like the Burj Khalifa, Antarctica, and Machu Picchu with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Both teachers and students have told us that they’d love to have a way to also share their own experiences in VR. As Jen Zurawski, an educator with Wisconsin’s West De Pere School District, put it: “With Expeditions, our students had access to a wide range of tours outside our geographical area, but we wanted to create tours here in our own community.”  

That’s why we’re introducing Tour Creator, which enables students, teachers, and anyone with a story to tell, to make a VR tour using imagery from Google Street View or their own 360 photos. The tool is designed to let you produce professional-level VR content without a steep learning curve. “The technology gets out of the way and enables students to focus on crafting fantastic visual stories,” explains Charlie Reisinger, a school Technology Director in Pennsylvania.

Once you’ve created your tour, you can publish it to Poly, Google’s library of 3D content. From Poly, it’s  easy to view. All you need to do is open the link in your browser or view in Google Cardboard. You can also embed it on your school’s website for more people to enjoy. Plus, later this year, we’ll add the ability to import these tours into the Expeditions application.

Tour Creator- Show people your world

Here’s how a school in Lancaster, PA is using Tour Creator to show why they love where they live.

“Being able to work with Tour Creator has been an awesome experience,” said Jennifer Newton, a school media coordinator in Georgia. “It has allowed our students from a small town in Georgia to tell our story to the world.”

To build your first tour, visit g.co/tourcreator. Get started by showing us what makes your community special and why you #LoveWhereYouLive!

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Women around the world are taking to the streets on International Women’s Day to urge faster progress on gender parity in economic opportunity, education and other important issues. The theme this year, #PressforProgress, is perfectly tuned to the challenges society faces. I know what’s it’s like to be the “first woman.” It’s really lonely! It…

The post International Women’s Day: Three simple ways we can all #PressforProgress for women in STEM appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blo..

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You can do a lot in 90 seconds—make a paper airplane, brush your teeth, or put on sunscreen.  And with EDU in 90, you can also get Google for Education updates.  

Earlier this year, we heard from countless educators, school leaders and administrators that they wanted to keep up with the latest from Google for Education. To keep our updates quick and concise, we created EDU in 90, a video series that highlights the best of our education products and programs—all in a succinct format. Throughout season one, we’ve focused on everything from quizzes in Google Forms to online safety to using Google Keep in the classroom.

In January, we’ll be back for season two of EDU in 90. And based on feedback from hundreds of educators, we’re increasing our episode frequency and will kick things off with episodes on engaging guardians of students with G Suite and using Google Classroom for differentiated instruction.  

Don’t miss an episode—be sure to check out our series playlist and subscribe to the Google for Education YouTube channel.

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Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Made with Code teamed up with Snap Inc. to host #MyFutureMe, a competition for teens to code their own Snapchat geofilters and write their vision for the future. 22,000 teens submitted designs and shared their visions, and Zoe Lynch—a ninth-grader from South Orange, NJ—was recently named the winner by a panel of judges, including Malala Yousafzai, Lilly Singh, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and our own CFO Ruth Porat. We chatted with Zoe about her experience, how she made her filter, and why it’s important for more girls to get into coding.

What was the inspiration behind your filter?

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The brain has fascinated me since I was younger—it’s where creativity and ideas come from so I wanted to use that. The coding project had peace signs, so I had the idea to manipulate the peace signs to look like a brain. The idea for my filter was what can happen when everyone puts their brain power together. When we do that, we are unstoppable.

After you became a finalist, you attended TEDWomen. What was that like?

It was crazy inspiring. It showed me how many powerful and cool women are out there opening paths for girls like me. I got to meet the other finalists, and we created a group chat on Snap, so that we can follow each other and stay connected. We’ve been each other’s biggest cheerleaders. All these girls are going to do awesome things. Tech mogul alert!

How did you feel when you found out that you were selected as the final winner?

I couldn’t believe it! Everyone was so talented and worked hard, but I was so happy that my ideas and creativity were recognized. To win a trip to visit Google and Snapchat was like a dream!

What advice do you have for other girls who want to learn how to code?

I know a lot of girls who think they’re not good at this kind of stuff, but most of them haven’t even tried it. So you have to try it because otherwise you won’t know if you’ll like it. I loved #MyFutureMe because teens are really into Snapchat and the different filters you can use. When you have an opportunity to make a filter, you realize that coding is behind it all.

My vision for the future is one where innovation is accessible to all. As a multiracial girl, I believe it’s important for everyone to be included.

Excerpt from Zoe’s vision for the future

You care a lot about inclusion—have you faced situations when inclusion has been a challenge?

When I go to camps or explore things in the engineering field, I’m often the only girl and the only person of color. Usually all the guys go together and it’s kind of discouraging, but I want to try to change that for other girls, so we don’t have to feel this way anymore.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I love to play video games—my favorite is “Uncharted”—but many of them are not really targeted to women. For women, the game is fun but you know deep down that it’s not really made for you. If I was going to make a video game, it would be an engineering game but you’re helping people. Say you want to build a bridge in the game, you’d need to use mathematics and engineering to make it work.

Who are your role models?

My mom. Hands down. She’s a Hispanic woman and and there are only white males at her level at her company, which is where my passion for inclusion started. She’s also pushed me and has always supported me.

You recently visited Snapchat and Google. What was the coolest part of the tour?

Beside the amazing offices (free food!), the coolest part was meeting the engineers. I was so inspired by their journeys and how different they all were. One was an actress, the other a gamer and the other wasn’t even sure of her major until she took her first CS class in college. It showed me that there are many paths to getting into tech.

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Zoe on her tour at Snapchat in Venice, CA.

If you could have any job at Google, what would it be?

I’d want to be an engineer in artificial intelligence—I think that technology and machine learning could change the world. I’d like to see more women and people of color in the field, too.

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Zoe chats with an engineer at Google.

What do you think the future will look like when you’re 30?

I’m hoping that in the future, everyone works together. And it’ll be cool to live through new technology breakthroughs!

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Maru Ahues Bouza, an Engineering Manager at Google, wouldn’t be where she is today without her father’s encouragement to learn computer science (CS). Growing up in Venezuela, there were no CS classes for children, so when Maru was just 10 years old, her father enrolled her and her sister in an adult CS class. At first, the girls showed little interest, but with steady support from their father, Maru and her sister became the top performers in the class. Maru continued with CS, graduating from Universidad Simón Bolívar with a Computer Engineering degree. Maru says that she couldn’t have learned CS without her father’s confidence: “if you’re taught from a young age that you can definitely do it, you’re going to grow up knowing you can be successful.”

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Maru, on the left, as a child with her sister and father.

Our latest research confirms that this type of support and encouragement is indeed critical. In partnership with Gallup, today we are releasing a new research brief, Encouraging Students Toward Computer Science Learning, and a set of CS education reports for 43 U.S. states. Here are the top six things you should know about the research:

  1. Students who have been encouraged by a teacher or parent are three times more likely to be interested in learning CS.
  2. Boys are nearly two times as likely as girls to report that a parent has told them they would be good at CS.
  3. At age 12, there is no difference in interest in CS between boys and girls. However, the gap widens from age 12 to 14, when 47% of boys are very interested, but only 12% of girls express interest.
  4. Across Black, Hispanic, and White students, girls are less likely to be interested in learning CS compared to boys, with the biggest gap between Black girls (15% interested) and Black boys (44% interested). 
  5. Students are more likely to learn CS in suburban areas (61%) than in rural areas (53%). Regionally, CS is most prevalent in the South or Northeast, where 57% of students are likely to learn CS.
  6. Principals perceive mixed parent and school board support for CS, and top barriers to offering CS include minimal budget for teachers and lack of trained teachers, as well as competing priorities for standardized testing and college requirements.
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Simple words of support can help more kids like Maru learn CS, no matter who they are or where they live. It’s not hard to encourage students, but we often don’t do so unless a student shows explicit interest. So this winter break, read the research about CS education and take a few minutes to encourage a student to create something using computer science, like coding their own Google logo. This encouragement could spark a student’s lifelong interest in computer science, just like it did for Maru.

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Siti Arofa teaches a first grade class at SD Negeri Sidorukan in Gresik, East Java. Many of her students start the school year without foundational reading skills or even an awareness of how fun books can be. But she noticed that whenever she read out loud using different expressions and voices, the kids would sit up and their faces would light up with excitement. One 6-year-old student, Keyla, loves repeating the stories with a full imitation of Siti’s expressions. Developing this love for stories and storytelling has helped Keyla and her classmates improve their reading and speaking skills. She’s just one child. Imagine the impact that the availability of books and skilled teachers can have on generations of schoolchildren.

In Indonesia today, it’s estimated that for every 100 children who enter school, only 25 exit meeting minimum international standards of literacy and numeracy. This poses a range of challenges for a relatively young country, where nearly one-third of the population—or approximately 90 million people—are below the age of 15.  

To help foster a habit of reading, Google.org, as part of its $50M commitment to close global learning gaps, is supporting Inibudi, Room to Read and Taman Bacaan Pelangi, to reach 200,000 children across Indonesia.

We’ve consistently heard from Indonesian educators and nonprofits that there’s a need for more high-quality storybooks. With $2.5 million in grants, the nonprofits will create a free digital library of children’s stories that anyone can contribute to. Many Googlers based in our Jakarta office have already volunteered their time to translate existing children’s stories into Bahasa Indonesia to increase the diversity of reading resources that will live on this digital platform.

The nonprofits will develop teaching materials and carry out teacher training in eastern Indonesia to enhance teaching methods that improve literacy, and they’ll also help Indonesian authors and illustrators to create more engaging books for children.   

Through our support of this work, we hope we can inspire a lifelong love of reading for many more students like Keyla.

Photo credit: Room to Read


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Craig Tranter is a former educator, and now serves as a technology presenter for Cisco. This blog is part of a series on advancements and opportunities in education. All views are his own.  One thing that all teachers will be fairly familiar with by now is the use of Interactive White Boards (IWBs). However, the ..

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Today, 5th grade students at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy in Chicago got a surprise. It was cool enough that they were doing a coding activity with Chicago Googlers as a part of Computer Science Education Week—but then another Chicago native joined the fun. When Chance The Rapper arrived, there were shouts of excitement and delight, and Chance even gave coding a try.

SocialWorks, a non profit co-founded by Chance, is on a mission to expose youth across the city to programming and to ensure they have the support necessary to reach their full potential—with access to arts, music, and coding as a means to express themselves.  

Today’s visit reinforced that computer science is a part of that mission. Shortly after Chance made his coding debut, Alphabet Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, David Drummond, announced that Google.org is donating $1.5 million to to bring computer science education to students in Chicago, with $500,000 going to Chicago Public Schools’ CS4All Initiative and $1 million to SocialWorks.

The grant will help teachers implement computer science and arts curriculum in their classrooms, and it builds on $40 million in Google.org grants that provide opportunities for students underrepresented in computer science to explore the field.

Justin Cunningham, Executive Director of SocialWorks, had this to say about today’s announcement: “Our grant with Google.org helps SocialWorks provide programming that sheds light on another pathway to success for young Chicagoans. While every student doesn’t need to become a computer scientist, understanding the basics empowers them to understand the world they live in. The opportunity to help kids code to share their music, artwork, and distinct point of view is at the core of our mission and an experience we look forward to providing in classrooms across the city.”  

Justin Steele, Google.org Principal who leads our work in local communities, also weighed in: “We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression. There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve—and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions into something bigger.”

I’ve built my own career around computer science. At Google I helped create CS First, video-based lessons that introduce students to computer science and show them coding is a tool that, in the words of the SocialWorks mission, “lets you be you.” As a kid raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I didn’t know that I’d one day graduate with a computer science degree and end up at Google. All I knew was that I was fascinated by gadgets, which one day led to learning about the software that made them work on the inside. With the support of Google and SocialWorks, students in Chicago can also find out how their interests are connected to computer science, so that they can use those skills to build the future they imagine.

These kids will always remember the day they met Chance The Rapper. We hope they’ll remember it as the day they discovered an interest in coding, too.

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Computer Science Education Week is an annual event to get kids excited about the possibilities of coding. As a part of CSEdWeek this year, we unveiled a new coding activity that lets students create their own Google logo, using block-based coding and video tutorials. Abigail Ramirez, a middle school teacher from Pomona Unified School District, tried out the activity in her computer science classroom, and spoke to us about the activity, as well as the importance of computer science in her students’ lives.

Tell us about how you got started with coding.

When I was in the third grade, my dad bought an old computer (the kind that required giant floppy disks) and challenged my siblings and me to set it up. “Reader Rabbit”—a reading and spelling game that we liked—didn’t work properly, so we had to take out the manual, read the code, fix the code, then fix the game. We didn’t even know we were programming, we just wanted to play on the computer! Fast forward years later, my congregation needed support with our website, so I turned to YouTube and Udacity to learn more. And two months after that, I attended a week-long CS institute at Harvey Mudd College, which is where my CS education officially began.

And now you teach computer science—how did you end up doing that?

I’m probably the least likely CS teacher. I’m originally an English teacher, and have the privilege of teaching at the school that I attended, which happens to be 94 percent Title I (meaning the majority of the kids have free or reduced lunch). Most of my students have college and career dreams, and they’ll be the first in their family to go down that path. While attending the CS Institute at Harvey Mudd, I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, have untapped potential, or simply need access to 21st century skills.

I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eventually, with the support of my administrator, I got the greenlight to pilot a couple of CS classes at my school. Now I teach a class called Middle Years Computer Science, which is where I tried out this year’s CSEdWeek coding activity.

How did the kids react to the coding activity?

When they found out they could design and program their own Google logo, the excitement went through the roof. Both seasoned coders and those who were new to coding came away with a sense of community and purpose. They expressed that their simple logos had the possibility of changing someone’s day, putting some joy in someone’s heart, inspiring people to act, and creating awareness.

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What are some of the most creative approaches that the kids took to completing the activity?

Kids are imaginative and innovative by nature, and when they get access to a creative tool like programming, the sky’s the limit. The students created some really heartfelt logos featuring concepts celebrating foster care and adoption using broadcasting codes (this means that letters in the logo will move in some way, based on a command that you give another letter). Others created music videos, complete with Google-themed fidget spinners. Some daring students even created motion-sensor interactive games using their webcam, and experimented with food-shaped logos.

How did the students work together to problem-solve during the activity?

I encourage my students to think of themselves as “lead learners,” meaning each individual has a skill, expertise, or idea to share with their classmates—and when they talk through each other’s ideas, it usually leads to an even better result. Coding gives students the flexibility to see what others are doing and immediately apply it, yet expand on it to increase their own skill. Besides, this shared experience is too awesome to keep to oneself—collaboration is a natural outcome. When something didn’t work in a manner they intended, you could see that students were using persistence and critical thinking to debug the block errors. When they were stuck, they would seek each other out as expert help.

Did this activity change any perceptions of coding the kids had before doing the activity?

Coding can be scary. But if you eliminate the doubt, mix in lots of fun, and allow for collaboration, coding barriers can be debugged. From the start, we established that there is no failure in their code, just an opportunity to increase their coding and debugging abilities. In the end, the students felt a sense of accomplishment from creating a program that sprung from their imagination.

How do the kids envision using computer science in the future? Have you seen their skills progress over time?

A lot of students have decided that’s the field that they want to go into. I get to be their hypemaster—I help keep the momentum going, to inspire them to pursue computer science. I also try to show them how these skills would be used out in the real world. I start each class with a “CS moment,” which is a video clip of a company that uses computer science—video gaming, for example, shows the kids that they could apply CS to things they’re already doing.

How have you noticed that learning about CS has positively impacted your students?

I can see the joy radiate out of them when they’re learning and practicing. A student once said to me, “I can change the world right now, I just need to figure out the source code.” So for me, it’s all about getting them to the next step.

As an English teacher, I gave my kids a voice. As a computer science teacher, I help them create their future.

And they get to decide what it is, and where they’ll go.

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Advancing our students’ understanding of the principles and practices of computing is critical to developing a competitive workforce for the 21st century.

In every field, businesses of all sizes are looking to hire people who understand computing, so we need more students to leave school confident in skills like coding, computational thinking, machine learning and cybersecurity.

The U.K. has already led the way in preparing for this future by making computer science education a part of the school curriculum in 2014. But we know there is more to do to ensure young people in every community have access to world-class computer science education.

A recent report from the Royal Society found that despite the good progress in recent years, only 11 percent of Key Stage 4 pupils take GCSE computer science. The majority of teachers are teaching an unfamiliar school subject without adequate support. These teachers are eager to offer computer science to their students but they need access to subject area training to build their confidence.

The U.K. government’s announcement that they’re investing £100 million for an additional 8,000 computer science teachers supported by a new National Centre for Computing is an encouraging step forward. It builds on the progress that’s been made since computing was added to the curriculum in 2014 by helping to ensure teachers have the specialist training and support they need to educate the next generation of British computer scientists.

We want to continue to play our part too.

Today we’re announcing £1 million in grants to support training for secondary school computing teachers in the U.K.

The Google.org grant will allow the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the British Computer Society and the National STEM Learning Centre to deliver free computer science and pedagogy training for thousands of key stage 3 and key stage 4 teachers in England over three years, with a specific focus on disadvantaged areas.

A Raspberry Pi and Google teacher training workshop in Leeds, UK
A Raspberry Pi and Google teacher training workshop in Leeds, U.K.

Through this effort, they will make make online courses and professional development resources available to teachers anywhere, anytime, for free, and deliver free in-person workshops for teachers across the country.

Googlers care deeply about helping to develop our future computer scientists, and many of them will give their time and skills to this program. A team of Google engineers and learning and development specialists will volunteer with Raspberry Pi to ensure that all teachers are able to access the online resources and courses.

This grant is part of Google’s long-standing commitment to computer science education. Through Google.org, we’ve given nearly $40 million to organizations around the globe ensuring that traditionally underrepresented students have access to opportunities to explore computer science.

In the U.K., we also support teacher recruitment and professional development by teaming up with organizations like Teach First and University of Wolverhampton, and we focus on inspiring more children, especially girls and those from disadvantaged areas, to take up computing through Code Club UK after-school clubs.

CS education and computational thinking skills are key to the future, and we’re committed to supporting Raspberry Pi—and other organizations like them—to ensure teachers and young people have the skills they’ll need to succeed.

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Editor’s note: Google has just completed its first-ever Google for Education Study Tour, bringing nearly 100 educators from 12 countries around Europe to Lund, Sweden, to share ideas on innovating within their systems and creating an environment that embraces innovation.. One of the highlights of the two-day event was a visit to Oxievång School in Malmö, where principal Jenny Nyberg has led their adoption of technology in the classroom. Below, Jenny explains how to support teachers during a period of technology adoption.

When we’re introducing new technology for our classrooms, I tell my teachers to imagine the ultimate goal as an island we all have to swim toward. Some of us are very fast swimmers, and we’ll figure out how to get to the island quickly, and even get around any sharks. Some of us are slow swimmers, and may be hesitant to jump in, but the strong swimmers will show us the way (and how to get around the sharks). Eventually, we all have to jump into the water.

Bringing tech-based personalized learning into the classrooms at Oxievång School was our “island” and we’ve all completed the journey, which was particularly important given that our school, like the city of Malmö itself, is a mix of different people with varying needs. We have immigrant students as well as native Swedes; 40 percent of our students speak Swedish as their second language. But all students can  become strong learners when teachers discover what motivates and excites them. When we adopted G Suite for education, our “fast-swimmer” teachers showed their colleagues how they could now customize learning for each and every student.

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Jenny Nyberg during school visit

As school leaders, my vice principals and I served as role models for using G Suite— not just for teaching, but for making our jobs easier too. We showed teachers how to use Google Sites to store information we needed every day, like staff policies and forms. We walked teachers through the Google Docs tools that allow them to comment on student work immediately rather than waiting to receive homework from students, and giving feedback much later. When teachers saw this in action, they understood how adopting G Suite was going to make a big difference for their teaching effectiveness and their productivity.

If you want teachers to become enthusiastic about using new technology, they need to be confident in their use of the new technology. For this, you have to give them support.  So we hired a digital learning educator who works exclusively with teachers to help them build up their technology skills. Every teacher receives a personalized development plan with a list of resources for training.

Our students have become more engaged in their coursework as teachers have become better at using Google technology to personalize learning. If students are curious about a subject, they can use their Chromebooks and G Suite tools to further explore the topic on their own. They also interact with teachers more often, even using Hangouts to meet with teachers outside of the classroom. As teachers become more confident, their enthusiasm spreads to the students.

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One of the stations included students demonstrating robots they programmed with their Chromebooks

Once we give teachers basic training, we keep supporting them so that the transformation spreads throughout the school. When they need extra help with using G Suite, teachers know where to find it: they can schedule a meeting with the digital learning educator. We have team leaders across grades and subjects who help teachers’ follow their development plans. Once a month, we all meet at school sessions called “skrytbyt,” which roughly translates as “boost exchange.” In these sessions teachers trade stories about lessons that went well and ask for advice about how to improve lessons they find challenging. Sharing knowledge is a great way to build confidence.

As leaders in education, we have to be honest with teachers and acknowledge that change isn’t easy, but assure them that we’re here for them. Teachers worry that students know more about technology than they do—students are the digital natives, while teachers are the digital immigrants. We constantly remind teachers that they can find inspiration in each other and in their students’ knowledge, so that we all make it to the island together.

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Four sites with four separate networks. No VPN capabilities, no streamlined network management, and no IT budget. Limited wireless access, inhibiting student learning and staff collaboration. Only a five person IT team. Starting to sound like a nightmare? This was the reality for Ascend Public Charter Schools, located in Brooklyn. Emeka Ibekweh, Managing Director of ..

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Editor’s note: TensorFlow, our open source machine learning library, is just that—open to anyone. Companies, nonprofits, researchers and developers have used TensorFlow in some pretty cool ways, and we’re sharing those stories here on Keyword. Here’s one of them.

Quill.org was founded by a group of educators and technologists to help students become better writers and critical thinkers. Before beginning development, they researched hundreds of studies on writing education and found a common theme—students had a hard time grasping the difference between a run-on sentence and a fragment. So the Quill team developed a tool to help students identify the different parts of a sentence, with a focus on real-time feedback.

Using the Quill tool, students complete a variety of exercises, including joining sentences, writing complex sentences, and explaining their use and understanding of grammar. The tool relies on a huge depository of sentence fragments, which Quill finds, recognizes and compiles using TensorFlow, Google’s open source machine learning library. TensorFlow technology is the backbone of the tool and can accurately detect if a student’s answers are correct. After completing the exercises, each student gets a customized explanation of incorrect responses, and the tool learns from each answer to create an individualized testing plan focused on areas of difficulty. Here’s an example of how it works:

More than 200,000 students—62 percent from low-income schools—have used Quill. They’ve collectively answered 20 million exercises, and Quill’s quick, personalized writing instruction has helped them master writing standards across the Common Core curriculum.

Teachers have also benefitted from introducing Quill in their classrooms. Each teacher has access to a customized portal, allowing them to see an individual student’s progress. Plus, by using machine learning, teachers have been spared hundreds of hours of manual grading. Laura, a teacher at Caswell Elementary School in California said, “Quill has been a wonderful tool for my third graders, many of whom are second language learners. We especially love the immediate feedback provided after each practice; it has definitely made us pay closer attention to detail.”

Quill’s most recent update is a “multiplayer” feature, allowing students to interact with each other in the tool. They can see their peers’ responses, which fosters spirited classroom discussions and collaboration, and helps students learn from each other.

While students aren’t using quills (or even pens!) anymore, strong writing skills are as important as ever. And with the help of machine learning, Quill makes it fun and engaging to develop those skills.

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In a few weeks, people around the world will celebrate Computer Science Education Week. Millions of kids and others will participate in an Hour of Code, a global call to action to spend an hour learning the basics of coding. Today, it’s my privilege to announce that Microsoft has released a new Minecraft tutorial for…

The post Hour of Code 2017: Unlock an exciting new world by taking a ‘Hero’s Journey’ appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blo..

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Craig Tranter is a former educator, and now serves as a technology presenter for Cisco. This blog is the fifth in his series on advancements and opportunities in education. All views are his own.  There are many different ways that we like to communicate and there are trends in communication preferences. For example, the “Silent ..

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Ymasumac Marañón Davis is an educational consultant, intuitive life coach and author. This blog is the fourth in a series around access. All thoughts are her own.  Today, technology is a bullet train rapidly transforming every sector in society. Disruption is evident in companies like Airbnb and Lyft that have completely rearranged how we vacation ..

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Editor’s note: This week the Google team is in Philadelphia for the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2017, an important gathering of higher education technology leaders. If you’re at the event, visit us at booth #1100 to see the latest demos of Google Cloud Platform (GCP), G Suite, devices like Jamboard and virtual reality and augmented reality tools. If you want to be a part of the action from home follow at #EDU17 and our @GoogleForEdu account. If you want to connect with our team but cannot make it to the event contact us.

Yesterday we shared some of the inspiring ways we’ve seen researchers, faculty and students in higher education work with GCP to power their big ideas. But it’s not just researchers that can benefit from the cloud. From virtual reality tools like Jump & Tilt Brush to G Suite for Education to GCP, Google tools are helping educators create new, strong connections amongst students, with faculty, and with new parts of the curriculum.

Brown University connects students with the past with virtual reality

The Gaspee Affair is an important, but largely forgotten moment in U.S. history. And with its “cannon fire and gunshots and boat chases,” it was also a perfect candidate for reconstruction in virtual reality (VR), says Adam Blumenthal, Virtual Reality Artist-in-Residence and Professor of the Practice at Brown University.  

With a team of students and a Jump camera from Google, Blumenthal drafted scripts, designed sets and built a detailed virtual world so that students could interact with the past. “One of the things I love about VR is its ability to put people in places that are otherwise impossible, and in this case that’s stepping back in time in these very authentic recreations,” he says. During production the team has used Tilt Brush, Google’s 3D painting tool, to quickly produce storyboards of 3D scenes as well as to create what Blumenthal calls “virtual reality dioramas” that combine Tilt Brush paint with 2D and 3D assets. Today the prototype of their Gaspee Affair project functions like a virtual museum: students can view the spaces from any angle and interact with its objects. Click here to read the full Brown case study.

We want to help more institutions create their own VR experiences for learning. Google’s Daydream team is excited to launch a pilot program to give higher ed institutions the skills and tools to bring these ideas to life. You can get notified about the upcoming 360 video training course, express interest in the Daydream higher education pilot program or learn more about Google’s AR and VR tools.

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Brown University students and faculty create the historic Gaspee Affair in 3D using a Jump camera from Google.

Central Wyoming connects its students and faculty across large distances with G Suite for Education

At Central Wyoming College (CWC), students and staff previously had to be on campus in order to access email and documents—this was especially challenging in a rural region where people commute long distances. Now that CWC uses cloud-based tools through G Suite for Education, it helps them respond to the unique challenges of their campus community.

The school’s 2,000 students are spread across four campuses, and in the case of its Outdoor Education program, remote wilderness. “It’s extremely hard for our students to get together in person,” says CIO John Wood. Now professors and staff can choose to work live or remotely as needed, cutting down on long commutes to CWC campuses. “Their collaboration can now take place in other ways,” Wood says. “Hangouts are becoming popular, since students can use them to meet face-to-face when they’re not on campus.”  Read the Central Wyoming case study and sign up for G Site for Education.

Manhattan College powers critical campus IT systems with GCP

Manhattan College began using Google Cloud in 2008, and “in most cases, it has been the best answer,” says Manhattan College Chief Information Officer Jake Holmquist. First came the transition to Gmail; that “was the foot in the door that we in IT needed to show the rest of campus that it was okay to operate in the cloud,” says Holmquist.

Then last July, building on the trust and familiarity they had gained using Google tools, Manhattan College moved to implement “Banner 9,” an upgrade to their prior system, on top of GCP. In the past “a typical deployment in our datacenter meant a six-figure hardware purchase that we were not guaranteed to be delivered and provisioned in time for ample testing,” Holmquist said. “Instead, we took the unprecedented approach of deploying these new Banner 9 components in GCP’s Compute Engine. We were able to quickly and easily spin up various components during the installation and upgrade testing.”

They were able to deploy a production environment with “excellent performance and a level of high-availability that we could not have achieved on campus.” This has freed Holmquist and his team up for important work. “Instead of maintaining servers, replacing failed components, and applying patches, we are now focusing on making our applications run more efficiently which results in a more measurable benefit to our end-users.” Read the Manhattan College case study or express your interest in Google Cloud Platform.

A better and brighter future. A world that accepts people for who they are. Voicing opinions for those who may not be able to.

These are just a few elements of a future envisioned by five special teenage girls. Along with Snap Inc., we created the #MyFutureMe contest to challenge teens to design a geofilter based on the future they imagine for themselves. More than 22,000 teens entered the contest, and five finalists—chosen by Snap—are attending TEDWomen in New Orleans this week, where they’ll hear from entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and activists. They’ll receive mentoring sessions from three Google engineers, and each girl will work with the Snap Design team to create her own, unique Snapchat Lens.

These finalists were chosen from 22,000 teens who entered the contest. Here are the geofilters they created, as well as their vision for the future they not only imagine, but are determined to create.

Anna Nesbitt
Pittsburgh, PA

My dream is to bring computer science and robotics to third world countries. I’m taking coding classes right now and I am a part of a FIRST Robotics Team (Girls of Steel 3504) to learn as much as I can about coding and robotics so I can apply it to my aspirations. I started and ran a robotics team at my elementary school last year in 8th grade for a group of third graders. I taught them basic engineering and CS concepts. I hope to expand my program to two more teams this year, focusing on inspiring girls!

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Zoe Lynch
South Orange, NJ

7.5 billion people make up the world’s population; each with their own unique set of skills and talents. My vision for the future is one where innovation is accessible to all. As a multiracial girl, I believe it’s important for everyone to be included. Whether it’s tutoring math, volunteering, creating problem-solving applications, or doing something as simple as spreading positivity; I am doing as much as I can to make my vision for the future a reality. Together the possibilities are endless. 7.5 billion people—that’ s a lot of brainpower!

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Aishwarya Rane
Diamond Bar, CA

My vision for the future is to have greater gender, racial, and social equality and increase representation for minorities. I hope to develop interpersonal skills as well as public speaking skills. I believe these skills will allow me to voice my opinions for those who may not be able to. I am a part of Girl Up, a campaign by the UN to empower girls around the world, and Society of Women Engineers at my high school. I actively work to bring awareness about contemporary issues (i.e., human trafficking) and increase female representation in STEM.

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Maria Wangamez
San Francisco, CA

An educated world. A world that accepts people for who they are. A world without barriers to education, whether those be financial, geographical, or social. I want to develop a comprehensive education system that can be instituted across the globe; one that is not standardized, but can be changed and suited to varying levels of different types of intelligence (mathematical, scientific, linguistic, artistic, athletic…). To accomplish this, I will start a company, and gather creative, forward-thinking people around me; ones with unique and fantastic skills in coding, educating, animating, advertising and calculating. Together, we will educate the world.

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Sasha Williams
Danville, CA

The future I envision is a better and brighter one. A future where everyone is equal, and confident in who they are, and not judged or mistreated for that. I am currently trying to make this possible through my skill set around gaming and coding. I advocate for young African American girls and inspire them to become creators of their own future, through technology. I have also made a social justice video game about Black History, that won me a trip to the White House! My future me wants to make a difference. I’m kind of a big deal.

Editor’s note: This week the Google team is in Philadelphia for the annual EDUCAUSE conference, a gathering of higher education technology leaders. If you’re at the event, visit us at booth #1100 to see the latest demos of Google Cloud Platform (GCP), G Suite, Jamboard, as well as virtual reality and augmented reality tools. Or follow the action on our @GoogleForEdu account, using the #EDU17 hashtag. If you want to connect with our team but can’t make it to Philadelphia, contact us.

I’m continually inspired by all the ways that educational institutions use Google Cloud to expand learning for everyone. Today, eleven years after San Jose City College and Arizona State University became the first to adopt G Suite for Education, we’re announcing that more than 80 million students, faculty and staff now use these tools in higher ed and K12.. Meanwhile, Google Cloud’s product portfolio continues to expand, helping us keep up with educators’ and students’ limitless ideas. Below are a few recent highlights of what institutions have been doing with the help of Google Cloud.

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Northeastern researchers understand the spread of Zika using GCP

Amidst the spread of the Zika virus, the Modeling of Biological and Socio-technical Systems (MoBS) lab at Northeastern University, created a model to better understand the deadly virus. Using a mathematical and computational approach powered by GCP, the team studied different scenarios under which Zika could spread, projecting its impact on affected populations. The model is based on the initial spread of Zika in Brazil, and allows researchers to predict the impact of new infections in other locations by introducing additional data layers, including temperature, number of mosquitoes, population size and people’s travel patterns.

With Google Compute Engine and Preemptible Virtual Machines, MoBS has run more than 10 million simulations and drastically reduced the time needed to analyze data.

“Time is vital when confronting disease outbreaks,” says Matteo Chinazzi, Associate Research Scientist at Northeastern University, “and GCP gives us the tools we need to move quickly at scale.” To read more about MoBS Lab’s  Zika research and analysis, check out “Spread of Zika virus in the Americas” and our full Northeastern case study.

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This incidence map of Zika infections, created in December 2016 by the MoBS lab simulation model, is a spatial projection of the median number of infections by February 28, 2017. The inset maps provide detailed projections for the areas of Recife and Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

MIT professor pushes computing limits

Andrew V. Sutherland, a computational number theorist and Principal at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is part of the team behind L-Functions and Modular Forms Database (LMFDB), a detailed atlas of mathematical objects and the connections among them. This database is used by physics, computer science and mathematics communities around the world.

The calculations to create the objects in LMFDB are complex, time-consuming and expensive to perform. Sutherland uses Compute Engine and Persistent Disk to calculate some of those objects. One tabulation required 580,000 cores of preemptible VMs to compute—the largest known high-performance compute cluster to ever run in the public cloud.

LMFDB also uses Google Cloud to host its web servers, as well as GCP tools like Google Stackdriver, Google Cloud Console and Google Cloud Load Balancing. Running on GCP supports countless daily searches, and allows people in multiple countries to easily administer the system.

We’re excited to see how the team behind LMFDB continues to push the limits of what is possible. See the full MIT LMFDB case study.

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City College of New York and Howard West use GCP Education Grants to equip students with hands-on learning

GCP Education Grants are putting the cloud in the hands of future researchers and computer scientists at more than 500 higher education institutions.

At City College of New York (CCNY), GCP Education Grants provide computer science (CS) students with hands-on experience with virtualization, containers and other cloud technologies. Peter Barnett, Adjunct Associate Computer Science professor, uses GCP Education Grants for students in his Senior Project capstone course, whose software projects have great scientific, social and entrepreneurial potential.  

His teams’ projects include:

  • using machine learning to advance the optical character recognition of handwriting

  • assisting trainers, physical therapists and their clients to develop and maintain correct form in exercise

  • enhancing patent search using content analytics combined with machine learning

  • interior mapping of subway stations and other public places to assist visually impaired people

  • generating quasi-random music with AI that changes in response to user feedback

These students think big, and the GCP grants can help them move from big ideas to new creations.

Across the country, Gloria Washington, a computer science professor from Howard University, helped students in her summer course at Howard West in Mountain View tackle machine learning problems using Cloud Datalab and TensorFlow. These tools allowed Gloria to design a course that was hands-on and project-based, helping students focus on machine learning rather than spending all their time setting up the technology.

“For us, [saving time] was really crucial because we only had five weeks for this course. If you spend a week trying to get them to download the libraries and then make sure that they have the right commands to be able to run it from the shell, that just creates a whole level of complexity that we didn’t want to deal with. The complexity was really cut down.”

Professors teaching courses in computer science and related fields can apply for free GCP Education Grants. Learn more about eligibility and apply for grants and see the full case studies about the experiences of Howard West and CCNY.

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