Oracle Academy and the Computer Science Teachers Association team up to drive student interest in computer science.
Oracle Academy and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) are collaborating to bring Oracle Academy’s Introduction to Computer Science curriculum to K–12 teachers in the US and Canada. The Oracle Academy professional development events began in February 2013 and will continue through August 2013—comprising 32 events and instructing up to 600 current and future K–12 computer science teachers.
“This is a true partnership, and an excellent example of how a professional organization and a technology company can work together,” says Dr. Chris Stephenson, CSTA executive director.
Both CSTA and Oracle Academy play a vital role in the collaboration. CSTA provides a direct link to its 13,000-plus computer science educator members—getting the word out and providing recruitment and the venue for the training events. And Oracle Academy provides the instructors and its portfolio of software, curriculum, hosted technology, training, support, and certification services for secondary and higher education teaching.
“80 percent of our members are current K–12 teachers,” says Stephenson, “so this is a powerful marriage that will really benefit teachers and, ultimately, their students.”
Stephenson adds that the logical and algorithmic skills learned in such computer science classes ultimately cross many academic disciplines. “They’re really part of the core knowledge of what an educated citizen needs in today’s global information economy,” she says.
The Oracle Academy courses being offered as part of the collaboration include Database Design and Programming with SQL; Java Programming; and Java Fundamentals, which includes instruction in the object-oriented development environments Alice and Greenfoot.
“Alice is a drag-and-drop learning tool developed at Carnegie Mellon University that kids can use to tell stories without worrying about syntax,” explains Derbenwick Miller. “Greenfoot, developed at the University of Kent and Latrobe University, begins to introduce Java syntax, and allows students to build games. Alice and Greenfoot really engage students, helping them to build analytical and programming skills without them focusing on or sometimes even realizing that’s what they’re doing.”
To get started with the program, interested teachers can become CSTA members and their schools can join Oracle Academy. However, CSTA membership is not required for participation.
To help support computer science education in their local schools, Derbenwick Miller also encourages parents, educators, and students to participate in Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek). “CSEdWeek both celebrates and helps raise awareness of the importance of computer science education by showcasing it at its finest,” says Derbenwick Miller, who is also the chair of CSEdWeek 2013 (December 8–14, 2013).
“There is terrific synergy between CSEdWeek, the mission of Oracle Academy, and the work we are doing with CSTA to improve and expand computer science education across the US and Canada,” she adds. “Oracle is proud to be helping make a difference in the lives of our future technology and business leaders.”
Steve Meloan is a freelance writer.