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New report: Opportunities and challenges in afterschool computer science

By Melissa Ballard

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, we’re proud to release our new report, “Growing computer science education in afterschool: Opportunities and challenges.” A diverse group of stakeholders—including educators, business and industry, policy makers, and parents—agree that computer science education is vital for kids to become the creators and innovators for the next generation, making technology work for them and designing solutions for their communities.

In the report, we asked the afterschool field what they thought about computer science education. They responded with overwhelming interest: 59 percent of our survey respondents were either offering computing to their students at the time of the survey or had offered it in the past, with the majority saying they were highly likely to offer it again. Among the programs that had never offered computing education before (40 percent of respondents), 89 percent indicated a high or medium level of interest in trying it out.

Despite this strong interest, afterschool providers indicated some big challenges to offering computer science to their students, especially finding qualified educators to teach it, securing funding, and accessing necessary technology. To address these common challenges, as well as other issues mentioned in our focus groups, our report offers nine recommendations for K-12 computer science education stakeholders:

For afterschool leaders and practitioners:

  1. Document promising practices.
  2. Share existing resources more broadly.
  3. Support individual afterschool programs’ capacity for partnerships. 

For computer science education experts:

  1. Conduct targeted outreach to the afterschool field to educate them on computing.
  2. Increase professional development opportunities for out-of-school time educators.
  3. Develop engaging curricula designed for the afterschool environment. 

For industry partners and grantmakers:

  1. Engage and invest in meaningful partnerships with afterschool providers.
  2. Support training for employee volunteers.
  3. Provide and promote a diverse array of funding opportunities.

For more details on our recommendations, and how you can implement them, download the full report!

We hope that our findings will help K-12 computer science education stakeholders support the growth of quality, sustainable computing education within the afterschool field. Read the full report today, and be sure to forward it to your friends and colleagues.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Science