Three grants to assist computer education for K – 12

FILE PHOTO - This photo taken Nov. 25, 2013 shows Isabelle Fontana, 7, working on two iPads for an e-book about Thanksgiving in her second grade classroom at Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, Va. Interactive digital learning on laptops and tablets is, in many cases, replacing traditional textbooks. Students are taking computer-based tests instead of fill-in-the bubble exams. Teachers are accessing far-off resources for lessons. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Utah State University’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services is ranked in the top 3 percent of colleges nationally by U.S. News & World Report and recently they received three grants totaling about $2 million. The grants will focus on computer science education in the Kindergarten through 12th grades. This focus is nationwide and, in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert has put it as a priority in his ‘By 2020 Expectations’ for education in the state.

On KVNU’s For the People program on Tuesday, Dr. Mimi Recker, a professor of Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences at USU, talked about the significance of receiving these grants.

It’s extremely difficult to get these research grants from the National Science Foundation. In the last couple months we were lucky enough to get three, three of them all focusing on how we can help kids (K – 12) learn and become interested in computer science and with a particular focus on  attracting students that aren’t normally attracted to these fields, including girls,” she explained.

Dr Mimi Recker

Recker said this type of emphasis probably started during the Obama administration and it has continued to build steam with many of the big companies in the tech sector jumping on board because they really see a big workforce demand. She said this is especially true in Utah with a growing tech sector.

“Here, for example, in the Cache County School District, there’s an initiative at the elementary level that’s coming out of the Governor’s Office for Economic Development to try to increase kids’ access to computer science ideas and coding.”

Recker said what’s really exciting is a couple of the projects are focused right here in Cache County and one of the bigger projects is focused throughout the state trying to get out into rural areas in particular.

AUDIO: Jason Williams talks with Dr. Mimi Recker about computer education grants on KVNU’s For the People

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