June 13, 2019 / Vincennes University is helping teachers expand
computer science education in Indiana
VINCENNES, Ind. - Educators from schools throughout Indiana
convened at Vincennes University for a free computer science workshop,
aimed at introducing them to fundamentals and preparing them to meet
new state mandates.
VU’s Education Department hosted the Code.org Computer Science
Fundamentals Introduction workshop held at the Indiana Center for
Applied Technology building on June 11.
Computer science education is expanding in Indiana.
All public schools in the state will be required by law to offer
computer science programs for students in kindergarten through 12th
grade starting the 2021-22 academic year. Public high schools must
offer at least one computer science course as a semester elective each
“The kids are really going to like using technology,” said Elyssia
Eaton, a fourth-grade teacher at Riley Elementary School in Vincennes.
“All kids love technology. This is a good way to get them excited
about learning and to keep them engaged in the classroom.”
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb believes computer science education
will ready future generations for in-demand technology jobs. According
to Code.org, there are currently 500,000 available computing jobs nationwide.
Tricia Hall is curriculum director for North Knox School Corporation.
She attended the workshop so she could learn about computer science in
order to share it with others. She left with “tons of ideas and free resources”.
Hall seized the opportunity to take part in a no-cost workshop held locally.
“I was ecstatic when I found out there was something here at
Vincennes University,” she said. “Sometimes, I feel like we have to
drive to Jasper or drive to Evansville. I thought since it was here
that was fantastic.”
The workshop was presented by Code.org and Indianapolis-based Nextech
– organizations dedicated to expanding access to computer science
education in schools.
VU’s Education Department has partnerships with 42 school
corporations, according to Ann Herman, the education department chair
and an associate professor at VU.
“Us being able to provide a venue is a way for those corporations to
meet a need and if we can help in that, it is our way to thank them,”
Herman said. “We can’t do our job without those corporations. We can’t
do it without them taking our students for student teaching, for all
their practicum placements, and those kinds of things.”
For many participants, the workshop was their first exposure to
“I knew nothing about any of this when I came here,” Eaton said. “I
am leaving here with a ton of knowledge and the confidence be able to
incorporate it into my math groups. I also want to try to get other
teachers on board with it and to see the importance of it.”
Kendra Swettenam graduated from VU in May with a Bachelor of Science
in Special Education, Mild Intervention, and Elementary Education K-6.
She is a sixth-grade teacher at North Knox Intermediate. Swettenam is
excited about utilizing the material she gained particularly coding.
“I learned how well the students will be able to do it,” she said. “I
learned the way they take that information and pull it all together
Participating in the workshop was a definite learning experience for
VU education major Collin Crabtree.
“I’ve always loved technology and I’ve never been able to learn how
to do some of the activities that we did today,” he said. “I came here
out of my own interest to learn how to do some of the things we did
such as coding and the binary stuff, and to also learn how to
incorporate those things into classroom activities as well.”
All of the attendees were enthusiastic about taking their newly
gained knowledge back to their schools.
“Our facilitator had a passion for computer science, which hopefully
excites educators to turn around and take it back to their classrooms
because it’s something our students need exposure to,” Hall said.
“Time is sacred and it’s not like we have ton of time in the
classroom. To make time for something, you have to see the value in
it. After today, hopefully our educators see that.”
Vincennes University Newsroom
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell,
Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom