Dan Garcia is a Teaching Professor in the EECS department at UC Berkeley. He was selected as an ACM Distinguished Educator in 2012 and ACM Distinguished Speaker in 2019, and is a national leader in the "CSforALL" movement, bringing engaging computer science to students normally underrepresented in the field.
Thanks to four National Science Foundation grants, the "Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC)" non-majors course he co-developed has been shared with over 800 high school teachers. He is delighted to regularly have more than 50% female enrollment in BJC, with a high mark of 65% in the Spring of 2018, shattering the campus record for an intro computing course, and is among the highest in the nation! He is humbled by the international exposure he and the course have received in the New York Times, PBS, NPR, and others media outlets. He is working on the BJC Middle School curriculum.
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Take a look at any kid’s laptop, notebook, school locker, or bedroom and you will see it full of stickers, drawings, and posters that allow them to express their creativity and identity. By contrast, most technology education (curricula and tools) are one-size-fits-all. Educators and developers should instead allow for deep customization, at many levels, to give students ownership of their educational experience. This could range from cosmetic changes like Snap! skins or allowing kids to change the default sprite costume and stage background (and even posters on their classroom wall), to adjusting an online lesson so that it’s not Alphie and Betsy thinking out loud but instead LeBron and Kobe, to allowing students to choose the Computing in the News topic, or even their own unique path through a curriculum. With inspired proficiency-based specifications grading, they could even decide their final grade -- complete more than 8/10 units for an A, between 6 and 8 for a B, etc. Some of these preferences could be chosen by the student dynamically, some through a detailed start-of-year survey, and some through an AI-driven recommendation system that would use what similar students have preferred. Through recognizing and embracing cultural differences, we will create an educational ecosystem that will put the kids in the drivers’ seats, increase student agency and engagement, and ultimately achieve greater inclusivity.