Microsoft Philanthropies has announced a $2 million commitment with CSTA

Today Microsoft Philanthropies announced a $2 million commitment, over three years, to CSTA. Support from Microsoft will help us launch new chapters and strengthen existing ones, expand professional development opportunities across the network, and attract new members and partners in order to build the foundation and community that every computer science teacher needs. With computer science skills more important for students than ever before, we are thrilled to join forces with Microsoft on this effort to broaden access for all students. Learn more about the commitment from Mary Snapp, Senior Vice President and Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies: Read the Announcement!

OMSCS : On-line Masters of Science in Computer Science

I get a lot questions about the on-line program I am in at Georgia Tech. I thought I would share details about my experience to help others in our CSTA membership who might consider online education as a possible option for their own education. I know there are several CS teachers in CSTA in the same or a similar program who can also add to the discussion.

The OMSCS (Online Masters of Science in Computer Science) at Georgia Tech has broken through barriers, stereotypes, and obstacles and created a world class master’s program that not only has kept its academic integrity and rigor, but has done so at a cost that is tremendously lower than many on-campus programs. The program has been recognized world-wide for its innovative approach and financial model. A typical class runs about $800, including tuition and fees. Students have to complete 10 classes for a degree, putting the total cost of attendance at about $8000. Within those 10 classes, students are required to choose a specialization (Computational Perception & Robotics, Computing Systems, Interactive Intelligence, or Machine Learning), which usually means you have to choose some classes(usually 6 out of the 10) from a specific set of required classes. Most students take 2-3 years to complete their degree, but can take up to 5.

Yes, it’s different than being on campus. Yes, there are things we don’t get access to. No, we cannot go to football games. We don’t have student IDs (I don’t think). Classes have the same expectations of rigor online as they would on-campus. There is freedom to choose which classes to take, and in what order. Classes tend to be project-based, very student-driven. Not all classes in the entire CS program are offered online; currently, there are about 30 class offerings. Any class that is offered has to be “converted” to this online format. We use the same system to register and get grades as other students at Georgia Tech. Each class is different, but many of them take advantage of Udacity for regular “lecture.” The designers of the program have coached the class professors how to record interactive and engaging videos for class. These videos are broken up into bite size chunks never more than a few minutes in length…and they are not dry and monotonous. Many include interactive quizzes embedded in each video. We are able to sense the passions, intonation, and enthusiasm of the professors. Having completed a MOOC with some terrible prerecorded lessons, I have thoroughly enjoyed this online experience.

Tests and exams are always administered online with a 4-day window (you can usually take it anytime from Friday- Monday night) and uses software called ProctorTrack which virtually eliminates the possibility of cheating. With all the obvious possible opportunities for dishonesty with a 100% online class, the program takes it extremely seriously; the honesty element is a regular topic of discussion. In fact, what I notice is that the students themselves take pride in the sense of honor that we all embrace as members of the program.

I have had every type of educational experience possible. I have had theoretical classes with lots of textbook reading, quizzes, and tests. I have had classes with no tests at all, but lots of writing assignments. I have had classes with only a midterm and an exam. I have had classes with large group projects. I have had classes with large individual projects. I have had projects that lasted days, weeks, and even months. I have had classes with required graded homework and classes with ungraded homework. I even had one class where we found out the one of the TA was actually a “virtual assistant.” The one thing every class has in common is that they are all very challenging and expect your undivided attention. I spend anywhere from 10-30 hours per week on a typical class.

One of the major drawbacks that I have experienced is simply not having the inter-student conversations, overhearing a fellow student question to the professor, hanging out after class to talk about ideas with fellow students, chatting with the professor before class for a lesson clarification, or impromptu collaborating in the lab while working on projects.

Once students have found their way into the first class, they quickly learn that the online discussion board, PIAZZA, is the lifeblood of the program. The board is heavily monitored by TAs every day all day. Most classes have lots of (T)eaching (A)ssistants to handle the 100-200 students in the class. Students are also heavy contributors, but not only posting questions…..they are actually equally as active responding to others. In fact, some classes require (or encourage) participation in Piazza. In some classes, we’ll even have responses from the professor. Without giving away too much in the response (honor part plays a part here as well), fellow students give hints, explanations, and advice to each other. Students truly feel like they are in this together. Each class also has a SLACK channel for instant communications for those that prefer that style of medium. TAs also monitor these channels, so students will post questions here as well.

Some classes offer office hours (by TA or the professor) several times throughout a week through Piazza, SLACK, or Bluejeans.

Grading is exactly the same as it would be on-camopus. Any grade can be challenged by asking for a regrade, as long as there is a valid explanation for the request. This happens all the time. Because it is online and there are students from all over the world, most classes usually give at least a week notice for most assignments, giving students the ability to manage class with full time jobs (which many students have). That gives us time to research, plan, and struggle with the projects.

Students who complete 10 courses successfully earn a Master’s Degree, which is the exact same degree earned by on-campus students. Students are offered the chance to come to campus to graduate with fellow classmates during the regular graduation.

Doug Bergman headshot - Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative

Doug Bergman – 9 to 12 teacher representative


Doug Bergman
9-12 Representative

Board Candidate Personal Statements

Hello fellow CSTA members! Below please find several of your candidates personal statements for you to use as you consider who best to vote for in the current election.

NOTE: You can even find more information about each candidate, as well as the election itself at here:


Dr Jason Zagami: International Representative
I am seeking to represent international members of the Computer Science Teachers Association. Living far from the United States and Europe gives a different perspective on global computer science education. Many countries have made great strides in K12 CS education that are rarely acknowledged, with innovative and complex approaches to providing opportunities for students to study CS. I see the role of the international representative as keeping the CSTA board aware of what is occurring beyond the USA, and ensuring that CSTA initiatives apply globally. My own experience in CS curriculum reform has been in Australia, Oceania, India and East Asia, but I have been also active with UNESCO and the annual EDUSummIT forums looking to shape global CS education, particularly in support of developing nations. As a teacher and teacher educator for 25+ years, my focus has been on expanding perceptions of what CS can involve, in pedagogy through the use of visual programming languages and data visualizations, project-based learning, and educational games; in content through the development of computational, design, futures, strategic (entrepreneurial and business), and systems thinking skills as the reason we teach lower order processes such as coding; and through technologies such as robotics, automation, and AI systems. My research as an academic is focused on improving CS education and bringing it to the level of understanding we have of cognitive and curriculum processes found in mathematics and science. Much of CS curriculum development is currently guesswork or drawn from higher education, and CSTA is well placed to progress our understanding of what works best and when in CS education. Female participation is another area I am deeply concerned about in CS education, and as CS increasingly becomes the avenue for employment, we must ensure that everyone has access to these opportunities. CSTA is well placed to encourage research and promote initiatives to address this inequality. At a global level, CS opportunities are not well distributed, and the CSTA has a responsibility to providing educational opportunities to all member nations. To achieve these aims, I have experience in working on and leading professional associations as state and national president of Australian CS Teacher associations, and look forward to bringing a wider perspective to the CSTA board to address the needs of the many CSTA members outside of the USA, and of course benefiting all CSTA members as a result.

Michelle Lagos: Representative at Large
Hey there CSTA Members: I work at the American School of Tegucigalpa in Honduras as the Computer Science Department Head and grades 9-12 CS teacher. I am Honduran born and raised with a passion for Computer Science Education. As many of our members, I stumbled into teaching Computer Science. CS ED is not my first mayor, I am a Computer Sciences Engineer who started teaching CS when I was finishing college and got hooked on it. After two years doing full IT work as the IT officer for Latin America & the Caribbean for a British organization called Christian Aid, I realized that my passion was teaching and therefore I decided to become a teacher for good. I have been a CSTA member since 2008 and am currently one of the two Representatives at Large on the Board of Directors. I am running to serve a second term in the same position. My first experience with the CSTA board was in 2012 when I ran for the International Representative position. At that moment the 2011 version of the CSTA standards was our main focus as it had been recently released. I had the amazing opportunity of working in the Curriculum committee alongside Deborah Seehorn and Tammy Pirmann. One project that I am proud of during this term is getting our standards translated into Spanish which turned out to be a very helpful tool for international members. If you have attended the CSTA conference there is a chance you have seen me at the registration table or volunteering around. Volunteering during a conference is a lot of fun and you get to do some great networking with fellow CS teachers as well as get to know vendors that can provide you with tools that can help your instruction. Working on the board of directors is about having conversations on how to support our teachers in the best way possible. It is bringing the voice of the members to a table of CS leaders that have our best interests at heart. During this time, I’ve had the honor to work with and learn from people that are very well respected in the CS ED area. I would really be honored if our membership allows me to keep on working with the board and see some projects that are on their way to be fulfilled. Thank you for the support you have shown me so far.

Dr. Amy Fox: 9-12 Representative
I am currently the founder and President of the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter, which chartered in the summer of 2015. We currently have over 20 districts involved spanning 3 counties in New York State. I am grateful for the opportunity to potentially serve in this position to help further the goals of the CSTA and our local chapter. I believe working with CSTA members and chapters from all over the country will help me understand the challenges of computer science teachers in diverse school settings and learn about CS policies from all over the country. This knowledge, in turn, can help the chapter grow in our ability to reach out to the greater community and understand NYS computer science policies and trends. It is my goal to both learn from and contribute to the membership in ways that enhance computer science education for all students.

Miles Berry: International Representative
It’s been my privilege to serve the CS education community as the international rep on CSTA’s board for the last couple of years. I’ve had some great opportunities to visit other countries to share what we’re learning about implementing computing education for all back in England, and to learn how other countries are introducing CS in their schools. Let me share four great projects here. For anyone interested in laying a foundation for CS in kindergarten, it’s hard to do better than Linda Liukas’s Hello Ruby work in Finland. Linda has written and illustrated a series of three books, each featuring Ruby, a small girl with powers of logic, perseverance and imagination. Alongside the books, helloruby.com has a great set of unplugged, craft-based activities through which young children can learn computational thinking and what happens inside a computer. New Zealand’s Tim Bell has just received SIGCSE’s outstanding contribution to CS education award. Tim’s CS Unplugged takes some of the harder ideas from CS and makes these accessible to children (and teachers) through practical, classroom based activities. More recently, he and his team have plugged some of this back in, with companion coding activities in Scratch. His CS Field Guide is brilliant too, for those learning or teaching CS at high school level. There are so many fab CS education initiatives in the USA, but if I have to pick one, it would have to be Scratch, from Mitch Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten team at MIT. For me, the wonderful thing about Scratch is not its block-based approach to building (rather than writing) code, but rather the global community of young coders that has grown up around it, with a vibrant culture of sharing, remixing and informal learning. It’s also great how Scratch has led on to the development of other tools like Scratch Jr, Snap! and GP. Finally, I have to mention the ‘problem solving activities for computational thinkers’ textbooks that have been developed by KOFAC in South Korea, covering topics such as AI, the internet of things and gene editing. The books combine authoritative, engaging text with practical activities, some unplugged, but others using Korea’s equivalent of Scratch, Entry. I’ve uploaded English translations to Computing At School’s site at http://bit.ly/psafct. I talk a little about these projects, as well as coding competitions in Singapore, in a presentation I gave at Microsoft in Reading, England last November: https://youtu.be/yxd7V6rEH94.

Kristeen Shabram: K-8 Representative
I am extremely excited to be nominated as one of the candidates for K-8 Representative on the CSTA Board. For the past four years, I have taught computer science at the middle level. During this time, I have worked diligently to bring computer science education to all 7th and 8th grade students in my school district. I have also collaborated with K-6 teachers in my school district on integrating computer science concepts into their curriculum. As a Career and Technical educator, I feel it is my responsibility to equip students with the skills needed to be successful as they enter the workforce. A solid foundation of computer science knowledge is essential to achieving that success. Currently, I am in my second year as Chapter President of my local CSTA chapter. In this role, I am serving as a change agent by providing opportunities for teachers in my community to learn about the latest research, tools, and curriculum in computer science education. I am also working to build a strong network of teachers that are passionate about promoting computer science education in my community. My passion and enthusiasm for helping younger students develop a solid foundation of computer science knowledge is what makes me a strong candidate for the K-8 Representative. If elected, I am motivated to provide teachers with innovative curriculum and professional development opportunities that will equip them with best practices when teaching computer science. If teachers have these resources, it will better prepare them to integrate computer science in their classrooms in relevant and meaningful ways, as well as prepare students for the future.

Chinma Uche: 9-12 Representative
In the summer of 2003, five Connecticut AP Computer Science teachers met to discuss how to support each other as the College Board was switching the language of AP CS A from C++ to Java. After that meeting, Connecticut CSTA (CTCSTA) was formed. CTCSTA started the process of joining the national CSTA body in 2004, and became a chapter of CSTA with myself as President in 2009.
CSTA was a small organization of members who believed that CS should be taught to all students. It comprised of people who were ready to dedicate their time and personal resources to advocate for CS. As a member of the CSTA Leadership Cohort, I formed lasting relationships with other CSTA colleagues, benefited from CSTA training, and advocated for CS education for all students. I presented at conferences nationwide and participated in many panels on CS education.
I took what I learned from CSTA to work in Connecticut. I wrote numerous letters to the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), which led to the formation of the CSDE’s CS Advisory Committee. I presented before the Education Committee and others, and have contributed greatly to the growth of CS in Connecticut. As co-creator of Mobile CSP, a College Board endorsed AP CSP course which has trained more than 200 teachers nationwide, I have contributed greatly to the development of CS teachers, leaders, and Master Teachers. CS leaders have been locally grown in Connecticut and are now leading their own projects, in part due to this course and the supportive community in CT. I actively supported bringing ECEP and ECS to Connecticut, to create additional resources for students and teachers. I advocated for teachers to be treated as professionals and paid respectably for their time. Within Connecticut, I negotiated and brought weekend and summer opportunities for CTCSTA members. My support of CS education includes serving as a Code.org Fundamentals facilitator, since 2014, by training K-5 teachers in CS.
I have been a math teacher for more than 30 years and a CS teacher for more than 15 years. CSTA has been supportive of my work and training. CSTA helped me appreciate the role CS plays in national competitiveness, and understand issues of equity and social justice as they relate to CS education. I benefited from the CS community’s willingness to share resources. The support that I received over the years has led me to commit to supporting others. I see the need for thorough training for teachers so they can be confident of their skill levels before going before students. I also see the importance of providing necessary support for teachers during the school year, given the nature of the K-12 teacher’s school day. Currently, I serve on the CSTA Board in the Chapters and Professional Development committees and I ask for your vote to continue to bring my years of experience to CSTA activities. This is important given the need to bring CS to all students, which requires the development of a new skill set for creating an inclusive classroom. I want to remain a voice at CSTA for teachers, as we march towards #CSFORALL.

Another technology revolution

I was honored (ok…and also proud) recently to attend the South Carolina award ceremony for the recipients of NCWIT Aspirations award. The National Council for Women in Technology recognizes girls for their interest and achievements in the technology and Computer Science classroom. They are right there on the front lines addressing the lack of gender diversity in both education and industry!

Hundreds of high school girls around the county were honored in similar events. In fact, over 8000 students have received awards over the years. For many, this will be a giant stepping stone and the encouragement needed to explore a technological field as a major in college and beyond.

Over the decades as technology has gone from the fringes of elite scientific society to something which is as common as food and shelter for most people. It has become a backbone upon which almost every industry builds it’s tools and connects with the world. Traditionally, the percentage of females involved in the design, implementation, testing, marketing, advertising, sales, and support of the various technologies has been incredibly small. Of course there have been some tremendous contribution from women, but those numbers are still far too small relatively speaking. When females have been involved, there has usually not been much credit or recognition given.

So what that translates to is that many of the products we use now have been created without significant input representing half the population of the planet. Those products naturally will have a certain unavoidable bias to them. That is so crucially important to recognize because women are different! (wait, what?!) And that is a wonderful thing! They ask different questions, interpret problems differently, understand information differently, have different perspectives and priorities, have different passions, want different things, interact with technology differently, and work with people differently. We can take advantage of that!

Who doesn’t love the amazing technology we have at our fingertips? What a typical person can do on their smart phone is more than the entire NASA computing systems used to send rockets to the moon. Walking into an electronics store today we find products available that address almost every aspect of our society. Technology is allowing us to interpret, see, and interact with the world around us in ways never even imaginable. We can find, address, and even solve problems that help us truly make the world a better place.

We are already seeing increased females taking Computer Science and technology classes in middle school, high school and in college. While we still have a huge mountain to climb, we are starting to see more women enter the tech-industry as well. This translates to more women being prominent and active contributors to the products we use every day. We will start to see more recognized female technology leaders. Not far off from now, I think the world is going to experience a new wave of innovation, creativity, and incredible technologies like we have never seen. We will identify and start to solve problems that we didn’t even know existed.

Another technology revolution.

So…to Alexa, Rebecca, Haley, Beau, Lauren, Caroline, Kelsey, Eleanor, Sammie, Amanda, Tanner, Meg, Katherine, Elen, Riley and the many thousands of girls across the United States brave enough to enter into this world, I look forward to seeing and using the products you help to create.

Doug Bergman, 9-12 Representative

Doug Bergman headshot - Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative

Doug Bergman – Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative

Common questions about the CSTA board

I hope everyone had a great holiday break is leaping back into the school year with renewed drive and energy. With all of the chaos of the new year, you might have missed the call for nominations for the CSTA Board of Directors. There is no better way to contribute to CSTA’s mission of empowering and advocating for K-12 CS teachers than to serve on the Board. There are five open positions this year, four representing specific perspectives and a fifth, at-large position.

K-8 Representative: A classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the pre-high school level.
9-12 Representative: A classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.
International Representative: An international (outside the United States) classroom teacher who is currently teaching or promoting computer science at the pre-collegiate level.
State Department Representative: An educator or administrator who reports to a state department of education and oversees, in some capacity, computer science education.
At-Large Representative: An educator with responsibilities for K-12 CS education.

To apply for one of these position, you simply need to submit a resume and a brief application form – details can be found at http://www.csteachers.org/news/379241/Announcing-the-CSTA-Board-of-Directors-Elections–Nominations-Period.htm. The deadline for submissions is January 31 (11:59pm PST), so don’t wait too long. Questions can be directed to nominations@csta-hq.org.

In case you were on the fence about applying for the Board, here are answers to five of the most common questions that potential candidates ask:

Q: How much work is involved in being a Board member?
A: You have probably seen the phrase “the CSTA Board is a working board” in several places. What this means is that members of the Board are expected to help carry out the business of the organization – not just advise or supervise. This includes monthly virtual meetings and two face-to-face board meetings, one held in conjunction with the CSTA Annual Conference and another held in the late fall. While these meetings are packed and productive, most of the Board’s business is conducted throughout the year by committees, with individuals working from home and coordinating via phone conferences. The time commitment can vary by task, e.g., the work conducted by the Elections & Nominations Committee is concentrated around setting up and running the annual elections, and is light during other times of the year. On average, I would guess that the workload averages out to 2-3 hours per week.

Q: Are Board members expected to cover their own travel expenses to meetings?
A: No, expenses for travel are reimbursed (within reason) following CSTA’s travel policy guidelines. This includes travel, hotel, and meals at Board meetings. It also includes expenses related to attending the CSTA Annual Conference, since Board members are expected to attend this event and help out by proctoring sessions and assisting with registration. A copy of the travel policy is provided to all newly elected Board members.

Q: Why are there different positions on the Board, such as 9-12 Representative and International Representative?
A: The mission of CSTA is a broad one, promoting K-12 CS education and supporting the interests and professional development of our 26,000+ members. It is essential that the Board have a diversity of perspectives and experiences to address the issues and challenges that arise in the organization’s business. Each position has requirements to ensure that key perspectives are represented on the Board. For example, the 9-12 Representative is required to be a “9–12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.” Once on the Board, all members are equal in status and welcome to contribute to all initiatives.

Q: If I apply for a position, does that automatically mean I will be on the ballot?
A: Unfortunately, no. According to the CSTA bylaws, the election ballot will list at most two candidates for each open Board position. If more than two qualified candidates submit applications, the Elections & Nominations Committee is charged with selecting the two most outstanding candidates to be placed on the ballot. Committee members independently rank the candidates using a rubric that considers factors such as leadership skills and experience, understanding of core issues in CS education, and alignment of goals to CSTA’s mission. While this model does sometimes mean that highly qualified candidates do not make the ballot, it does allow for us to keep the ballot size manageable while still providing detailed statements from each candidate.

Q: Why should I consider running for the CSTA Board?
A: Serving on the CSTA Board of Directors is an extremely rewarding opportunity to give back to the teaching community. Board members help to set the vision for the organization and work to promote CS education on a global scale. Their work supports and provides professional development for CSTA’s more than 26,000 members worldwide. In addition, working closely with other amazing educators is rewarding in itself.

JRN, Journalism, Media, Computing faculty members


Dave Reed
Past Chair, CSTA Board of Directors
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee

We are rebooting The CSTA Advocate Blog!

Hello fellow educators of CS!

After a one year hiatus, we are relaunching The CSTA Advocate Blog.

With CSTA Advocate, we will bring people and ideas together.

For the next year, I will be editor. We will have a new post each Wednesday.

We’ll use The Advocate to get conversations started around ideas related to K-12 CS Education. It will involve interviews, opinion pieces, trend analysis, innovations, new technologies, surveys, invitations to get involved, success stories and even stories of failure. If you have ideas about topics you’d like to see, feel free to communicate! CSTA hopes to keep our members up to date on goings-on of our organization as well as provide interesting insights and incredible connections.

I am Doug Bergman, head of Computer Science at the Porter-Gaud School in sunny (and sometimes flooded) Charleston, SC. I am new board member and extremely passionate about Computer Science.

I’m a product of public education, and have worked in private education for the last 20 years. I’ve taught classes ranging from 1 student to over 300. I’ve taught students ranging in age from 3 to 99. I’ve taught and attended school in the United States as well as in France and Japan. I’ve worked in public, private, and professional schools. I’ve also taught online classes. I am currently completing my 100% online masters degree at Georgia Tech. My point is that I have experienced most types of education, and I bring this perspective to any conversation.

I can sum up my philosophy with a quote I heard at the CSTA conference this past summer: “I am not here for the answers, I am here for the questions.”

And I am looking forward to interacting with all of you—online and in person.

Doug Bergman Headshot

Doug Bergman – Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative