Duke Faculty and Students Design Open Source Computer Science Curriculum for North Carolina Schools

November 18, 2019

Aria Chernik, fourth from left, with other #IAmCS ambassadors.
Aria Chernik, fourth from left, with other #IAmCS ambassadors (Photo: N.C. Department of Information Technology)

On October 24, a middle school in Hoke County hosted the launch of a statewide effort to make computer science education and careers accessible to all girls in North Carolina. The #IAmCS campaign is led by Mary Hemphill, director of Computer Science & Technology Education at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, along with other ambassadors whose goal is to teach girls to dream big, develop new skills and seek job opportunities in computer science.

Aria Chernik.
Chernik at the #IAmCS launch

Representing #IAmOpenLearning, Duke University’s Aria Chernik is one of the ambassadors. She is associate professor of the practice at the Social Science Research Institute, a core faculty member at the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative and director of the Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation (OSPRI) Lab.

Through #IAmCS, Chernik has become involved in the state’s efforts to make computer science an academic subject in public education and include it in the standard course of study starting in Fall 2020. Duke students are contributing to this work through OSPRI Lab: CSbyUs, a Bass Connections project team led by Chernik and Jan Riggsbee.

The team is working with the state to design a 15-hour open source computer science curriculum, comprised of 30-minute modules, for the third, fourth and fifth grades. Once the team members finish testing their modules in several public schools in Durham, there will be 30 days for public comment. If the state adopts the curriculum, it will go into every third, fourth and fifth grade classroom in North Carolina.

“We have a rare and critical opportunity to reimagine education for all North Carolina students – including female students and students underrepresented in STEM fields – and to situate North Carolina as a national leader in future-proof learning,” Chernik said during her talk at the All Things Open conference in Raleigh last month.

Chernik explained that open source learning can be applied across disciplines, and although the current curriculum is tied to computer science, soon all teachers in the U.S. will be able to use these innovative pedagogy techniques.

“This monumental task of designing, building and implementing equity-focused CS education across North Carolina demands an open source approach,” she added.

On October 11, Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted an open design summit for North Carolina teachers and principals to support them in revising the statewide curriculum.

#IAmCS Event at Duke

On November 19 at 5:30, the OSPRI Lab: CSbyUs project team will host #IAmCS: A Panel on the Future of Computer Science Education, featuring Mary Hemphill, Owen Astrachan, Susan Rodger and Aria Chernik. Free food will be provided in The Edge, Bostock Library, Room 127.

Learn More