Dr. Dennis Brylow, Professor of Computer Science at Marquette University, was recently a guest on the Rex Academy Podcast. The interview revealed the need for a creative solution to the limited resources for computer science education in Wisconsin Schools. The urgency to find a solution is evidence when considering that in the past five years, only five computer science teachers have graduated in Wisconsin.
Dr. Brylow states that in years past, there has been a shortage of computer science graduates from Marquette University. As he looked into the issue, he discovered that there were few schools in Wisconsin that had computer science programs that prepared students for a future in computer science. As a result, students did not have an opportunity to become engaged in computer science and view computer science as a viable option for continued study or careers. Reflecting back on his own experiences, Dr. Brylow notes that his experiences in computer science courses in elementary school were a part of his journey that led him to complete a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University in Indiana.
Dr. Brylow believes, in order to increase the number of graduates in computer science, it is critical to provide computer science education for elementary students, even for students in kindergarten. However, a challenge to completing this goal is that there is a shortage of computer science teachers. At the time of his research, Dr. Brylow found that the computer science teacher certification programs in the state of Wisconsin did not have computer science teacher candidates enrolled in the programs. Notably, in the past 5 years, the state of Wisconsin, according to Dr. Brylow’s research, graduated only 5 computer science teachers.
An additional layer of complexity is that there is not a current model of computer science education that has been embedded in a school district. As a result, administrators, nonprofits and educators must forge a new path to provide computer science education for students. Dr. Brylow cautions that there is not a one-size fits all approach. Each district and each situation will be unique.
Rex Academy recognizes the shortage of computer science teachers and the need for students to have access to computer science education. By providing a fully developed curriculum, teachers can provide students with the opportunity to become engaged in computer science. The program provides a unique solution since the curriculum is created to support teachers who may not have a computer science background. Teachers are able to utilize the curriculum to meet student needs and interests as well as unique district challenges and goals. By equipping districts and schools with needed resources, even in the midst of a computer science teaching shortage, Rex Academy provides the opportunity for students to engage in computer science education.