Computer Literacy Academy: A Promising Practice for Including Graduate Students in Computer Science Education

In 2005 Dr. Daniela Marghitu launched the Computer Literacy Academy for Children. Based at Auburn University, this free multidimensional computer literacy pilot program is designed to enhance computer knowledge for children with disabilities. Each year the curriculum is developed to focus on increasing computer and communication skills such as grammar, following directions, sequencing, and reasoning. The Auburn University Summer 2007 Computer Literacy Academy was the featured K-12 outreach program in the Auburn College of Engineering 2008 Annual Report.

Through an AccessComputing minigrant, educational software and adaptive technology products were purchased for the program. Items acquired included Magic Touch Screens and Intellikeys.

Graduate students from Auburn University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering are invited to participate as instructors for the Academy. The children are taught basic computer programming with the Carnegie Mellon University Alice Programming System and robotics with Lego Mindstorms software.

Participant evaluations revealed that the children with disabilities not only increased knowledge of computer skills, but communication skills improved as well. Instructor evaluations showed an increase in the instructors' knowledge of clinical and academic applications of computer technology, as well as adaptive technologies. The instructors also reported that working directly with children with disabilities was an effective way to increase their knowledge and understanding of disabilities and accommodations.

The Computer Literacy Academy is a promising practice in providing computing graduate students with opportunities to work with children with disabilities and to understand the role of adaptive technologies and universal design in teaching environments.

AccessComputing mingrant activities have been funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program of the Directorate for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) (grant #CNS-0540615, CNS-0837508, and CNS-1042260).

Date Updated: 

1/18/2013