By Becky Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Microsoft Corp. will provide more than $95,000 in grant money to the Wyoming Department of Education to provide computer science training for the state’s school districts.
The grant money is part of Microsoft’s TechSpark Initiative to offer computer science program implementation and training through the organization CSforAll — Computer Science for All.
CSforALL strives to make computer science a part of every student’s K-12 education.
The help from Microsoft is especially important now, given that the state Legislature passed a bill in 2018 that districts must offer computer science education to every K-12 student, said Laura Ballard, the Education Department’s supervisor for its student and teacher resource team. The goal must be reached by the 2022-23 school year.
“The timing is perfect,” she said.
Training will involve several self-assessment and goal-setting activities.
“It will give districts the opportunity to think strategically about how to implement a high quality education in the districts,” Ballard said.
Dennis Ellis, the manager of Microsoft’s TechSpark program in Wyoming, said in a news release that computer skills will be essential for students seeking jobs in the future.
“Making computer science education an opportunity within reach of every student ensures that Wyoming’s children can be future ready and will make our state attractive to public and private investments that can drive economic growth,” Ellis said.
Computer science education will be the first content area that educators and education officials in Wyoming will implement from the ground up, according to Ballard.
The task can be overwhelming to think about, she said Tuesday.
“When I was talking with some of our partners with Microsoft, they pointed me in the direction of CSforALL training,” she said. “It really is intended to help districts take a systems approach to create a plan to implement computer science.”
This training will help educators create a vision of computer science education and how it fits in their district’s vision for education, Ballard said.
Districts have to apply to attend the training, which will take place one of five locations around the state.
Locations and dates are:
· Casper: May 14-15; Oct. 15; and May 20, 2020.
· Rock Springs: June 4-5; Nov. 14; and June 4, 2020
· Cheyenne: June 11-12, 2019; Nov. 19, 2019; and June 11, 2020.
· Worland: Aug. 5-6, 2019; Jan. 7, 2020; and Aug. 6, 2020.
· Gillette: Sept. 24-25, 2019; Feb. 25, 2020; and Sept. 24, 2020.