Bryan Cox, a doctoral student in the instructional technology Ph.D. program, publishes his first-author paper in Policy Futures in Education. The paper is part of a special issue on broadening participation in computer science education. The paper is titled, “Georgia online education option for broadening participation in K-12 computer science.” Lauren Margulieux, his faculty advisor and Jennifer Darling-Aduana are his supports on this paper.
We asked him a couple of questions about his work:
How does this publication help with your research goals and/or interests?
The publication supports both my research and my work. In both capacities, I’m interested in broadening participation in computer science education and utilizing online mediums in various ways to do that. Recent legislation requires that all middle and high schools in Georgia offer computer science by the 2024/25 school year. The legislation explicitly states that offering courses via an online platform is an option to fulfill this mandate. The publication investigates the potential for that aspect of the legislation to broaden participation in computer science (CS) education.
Summarize your topic:
This paper explores the potential of virtual education options to fulfill policies designed to broaden participation in CS education. Virtual education platforms inherently offer access to a wider range of students than traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Access does not preclude the various socio-economic challenges to engaging these platforms, but this format could be used to mitigate barriers to reaching groups of students that have historically been marginalized in CS courses.
In 2019, Georgia passed legislation that requires all middle and high schools to offer CS courses by 2025. The legislation also allowed for virtual courses to satisfy the requirement. While the legislation is intent on broadening participation in CS education, it specifically incorporates a virtual option, making it novel among similar legislative actions across the country. In this context, we examine whether virtual CS courses increase access for marginalized student populations.
As such, we explore (1) to what extent do the disparities in CS education found in brick-and-mortar classrooms also appear in virtual settings and (2) to what extent is there an association between modality and rurality on CS course enrollment.
Using district enrollment data from 2012 to 2019 for CS courses in Georgia, we calculated the percentage of students in marginalized groups that enrolled in physical courses across the state compared to the percentage enrolled in statewide virtual courses to illuminate existing disparities in enrollment. We conducted this analysis at the district level to highlight variability in representative disparity and the underlying structural differences that might contribute to these disparities.
Our analysis provides insight that incorporates the different levels of representative disparity districts have overall. As an early adopter of virtual CS education, the Georgia model provides valuable information for states interested in policies to broaden participation in CS courses.
Does this published item relate to anything happening in the news? If so, what?
On a local level, computer science education has been undergoing a transformation into a full K-12 discipline. The 2019 Georgia Senate Bill 108 is evidence of the need and support to make this happen.
Nationally, the pandemic showed us how important digital literacies are when millions of workers and students were compelled to shift to a virtual learning or working environment and confronted with all the threats, opportunities and nuances that come with such a shift. Computing technologies are in the news daily, whether it’s the ethics behind AI technology, the buying and selling of AI enabled social media platforms like Twitter, or the cyber warfare that is a large part of the war in the Ukraine.
Computing technologies are expanding to impact every aspect of society and ensuring that we have a tech savvy, digitally literate society is the mission when we work to broaden participation in K-12 computer science experiences.