New computer science education program debuts at SUNY Potsdam

Eric Zair ‘20 works in the computer science lab in Dunn Hall, during the fall 2019 semester. The photo was taken before the pandemic. SUNY Potsdam photo

POTSDAM — As technology becomes more engrained in our everyday lives, there is a growing need for expanded computer science in our nation’s schools. Now, SUNY Potsdam is answering that call by launching a new Bachelor of Science degree program in computer science education, leading to initial K-12 certification in the in-demand field.

“This new program draws on SUNY Potsdam’s long legacy of leadership in both teacher education — dating all the way back to our founding more than 205 years ago — and in computer science, as one of the first SUNY campuses to offer degrees in the field. We can’t wait to see our computer science education graduates go on to inspire young people and open up more pathways to success, starting early,” said President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg.

The program was developed to help meet the expected demand for certified computer science teachers in New York State, which recently added a computer science teacher certification. It is expected that many schools will be requiring computer science courses and be seeking certified teachers in the field, especially since New York City announced an initiative to offer computer science education in all public schools at every grade level by 2025, and since New York State announced a Smart Start program to expand computer science education.

According to Code.org, computing occupations are the top source of new wages in the United States, but only 45 percent of high schools offer courses in computer science. To help close the gap in encouraging more people from underrepresented backgrounds to enter computing, studies also show the importance of opening up access by teaching foundational skills in high school and earlier.

“SUNY Potsdam’s undergraduate degree in computer science education is a unique collaboration that brings together our cutting-edge education faculty skilled in pedagogy, with our innovative computer science faculty, deeply versed in content knowledge. We are excited to be one of the pioneer programs in the state and eager to provide our K-12 partners with an array of outstanding and diverse computer science teachers,” said SUNY Potsdam School of Education and Professional Studies Dean Dr. Allen Grant.

Students will study appropriate computer science content, particularly in the key areas of the New York State K-12 Computer Science and Digital Fluency Learning Standards adopted by the Board of Regents in 2020. These standards focus on five key concepts: impacts of computing, computational thinking, networks and systems design, cybersecurity, and digital literacy. Students will also complete a parallel program in teacher preparation, including teaching methods courses and field experiences and student teaching in K-12 classrooms.

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