Code Missouri is an initiative to adapt the Code HS coding education platform to engage rural, public school students in computer science programs. The program is kicking off in 15 rural school districts across the state with the intention to expand across the entire country in the future.
The Code HS Team is distributed all over the country, so to learn more about their exciting Pilot Program, Clever Tech Digest sat down for a video conference call with Cofounder Jeremy Keeshin and Code Missouri Project Lead Diana Lay, joining in from separate states.
In urban centers like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, schools are integrating computer-aided design, rapid prototyping, coding, and more into their curricula to prepare students for contemporary and future industries, which all require digital interfacing, automation, and basic computer literacy. Code Missouri is not just focusing on the technical aspects of coding, but also on how to customize the curriculum to integrate local culture and engage students in new possibilities.
Computer Science is the trade of the future, and Code Missouri is bringing the skills of that trade to rural schools. Rural and small- town schools make up about 57% of all schools in the United States (https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ruraled/tables/a.1.a.-2.asp). Keeshin explained, “There wasn’t anyone asking, ‘How do we adapt computer science programs to rural areas?’ We are trying to create a community around our programs and a set of localized resources to support it. Code HS is working directly with people of the state and of each school district to best adapt Code HS’s model to the Missouri school system.”
The intention of the Code Missouri program is not only to bring computer science education to Missouri schools but also to learn how to make the Code HS platform more adaptable to the regionally specific needs of different school systems and their students all across the United States.
Diana Lay has been a leader in the Code Missouri project since Code HS announced the program in October 2017. She has been heavily involved in selecting the school districts with which Code HS works and determining what factors to consider when adapting the education platform to these rural schools. Lay elaborates on her experience: ”I’ve been working in the field a lot. We try to touch base with all of the important stakeholders in the different schools and districts…. I do a lot of that through phone calls and putting in time to meet personally, one on one.“
Tailoring Code HS to rural school needs is an active and involved process. Diana Lay collaborates with superintendants, principals, teachers, guidance counselors, and local families to get feedback and ideas about how to connect computer science with community interests. “We’ve talked a lot with guidance counselors about encouraging students who haven’t found a niche in their school to fit into, to participate in our classes. For students that aren’t part of a sports team or a music program, this is a way to get them really excited about school… We are trying to show students the opportunities inside of Missouri to use computer science and to apply their skills to IT. We are working with a school now that is developing mobile applications. So their students are creating an App that the football team can use to manage defensive plays and things like that. A lot of it is from the ground up, just talking to educators about possibilities and then seeing what students get excited about. We are trying to find out what feels like a good fit for each community.”
The lessons learned from the Code Missouri project will be used to implement the program in rural schools across the country and bring new opportunities for students to excel professionally in the dawning digital age.