More than 400 educators from the state of Indiana gathered on the University of Indianapolis campus Sept. 16-17 for the third-annual Flipping the Switch Conference, a gathering of teachers, counselors, administrators, and coaches focused on integrating computer science into K-12 curriculum.
The conference, a collaboration between the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, the University of Indianapolis School of Education, the Indiana Department of Education, and the Indiana Higher Education Advisory Board for Computer Science, included teacher challenges in cybersecurity, software engineering, and data science, as well as unpacking state standards and integrating computer science across disciplines.
“I’m thrilled with the growth of our conference,” said Michele Roberts, the director of computer outreach education at SICE. “During the first year of our conference, there were a total of 10 presentations and about 85 attendees. In our third year, we drew a staggering audience, expanded to two days and multiple campus buildings, and hosted a minimum of seven non-repeating sessions in each hourly block of the schedule.”
The Flipping the Switch conference was initiated by SICE Outreach and is now co-host of the event along with IndianaComputes!, which is a collaboration of computer science departments from more than 15 universities in the state.
“A focus of this year’s conference was teaching the K-8 computer science state standards, preparing for iLearn fourth- and sixth-grade testing, and readiness for Indiana Senate Bill 172, which requires all high schools to offer at least one computer science course as an elective each semester starting in 2021,” Roberts said. “IndianaComputes! provided details around its Computer Science Homeroom initiative and launched a free repository of K-12 computer science resources, including more than 200 Bell Work puzzles with answer keys.”
The conference included presentations from SICE representatives, including Associate Professor Katie Siek, Lecturer Matthew Francisco, Assistant Chair of the Department of Computer Science Charles Pope, and Security and Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering Internet of Things Project Manager Joshua Strieff. Crystal Furman, National Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the AP College Board’s Computer Science program, delivered a keynote encouraging renewed efforts toward the dual mission of Computer Science national initiatives: to deliver rigorous computer science instruction and broaden participation in the field.
“It is a privilege to work with our K-12 colleagues in a joint effort to create a state wide pipeline of Computational talent,” said Esfan Haghverdi, executive associate dean for undergraduate education and co-chair of Indiana Computes! “Inviting Ms. Furman as the conference keynote was an easy selection to make because rigorous computer science pedagogy and broadening participation in the field and all its intersecting disciplines are exactly the mission of Indiana Computes! You will be hearing much more on this topic from us in the next few months, including workshop schedules at each CS Homeroom location and coursework opportunities for teachers.”
The Flipping the Switch conference will expand to three days in 2020.