Faculty from the College of Education (COE) Department of Learning Design and Technology (LTEC) and the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, alongside a team of Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) elementary teachers and LTEC graduate students, have been working on a grant project titled, Advancing Culturally Relevant Computing (aCRC).

This summer, the project will be offering six professional development workshops on five islands: Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, the Big Island, Maui, and Molokaʻi. They anticipate working with more than 100 upper elementary school teachers, paving the way for culturally-relevant computer science (CS) to be an option for all elementary students​.

In its second year, aCRC’s aim is to prepare elementary educators to integrate CS into their classrooms. The project is based on the premise that structured professional development modeling culturally-relevant computing is an effective way to prepare educators to reliably produce valued CS outcomes while promoting valued culture-based outcomes.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project also models a successful researcher-practitioner partnership, further strengthening the relationship between researchers at the COE and practitioners at the HIDOE.

HIDOE partner Brett Tanaka, Educational Specialist for Computer Science with the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design, said, “The HIDOE’s mission for computer science education is to provide equitable access to high quality computer science education for all preK–12 students. The aCRC project has been an exciting collaborative opportunity addressing diversity and inclusion through the integration of computer science concepts with culturally-relevant pedagogy. Students have an opportunity to learn about computer science in a way that is unique to Hawaiʻi and our diverse community.”

The project has been making an impact on local schools since it began. Kawika Gonzales, an LTEC graduate and fifth grade teacher at Kaunakakai School, is a CS resource teacher working on the project. Gonzales has been featured in the news for his innovative lessons, most recently on KITV4 Island News and in an article in the Molokai Dispatch for his work integrating culturally-relevant computing into his classroom.

To learn more about the workshops or the project, please contact Dr. Dan Hoffman (hoffman2@hawaii.edu), the project’s Principal Investigator.

“Coming out of the aCRC workshop this summer, I really felt energized. It changed the way that I’ve been looking at computer science.” Topher Pike
Pike, a fifth grade teacher at Chiefess Kapiʻolani Elementary School, was so energized by his experience at a 2022 aCRC workshop that he joined the project as a CS resource teacher helping to design additional culturally-relevant computing modules for his fellow HIDOE elementary teachers.

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