CEO Idit Harel’s OpEd on The Hechinger Report: “We must not shut low-income students out of computer sciences”

The following is a republication of the Opinion article written by CEO Idit Harel, “We must not show low-income students out of computer sciences“, originally published on The Hechinger Report on August 18, 2016.

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We must not shut low-income students out of computer science
The latest literacy crisis has nothing to do with reading

Maria, the woman sitting next to me on my flight from New York to Austin, is playing with her daughter, Monica, on her lap. The baby holds her smartphone, clicking, and Maria asks what I’m working on as she sees me typing obsessively on my laptop.

I tell her about what I do and how my company addresses society’s need to educate citizens for millions of unfilled jobs — in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs, as well as jobs in computing.

I tell her that over 135,000 school leaders need to train four million teachers quickly due to 100 million parents’ desire to educate children on this new bundle of literacies.

She smiles. “Oh really. I had no clue there’s such a thing. Can you really mandate computer science in all classrooms in this country? Are teachers going to agree?” she wondered, adding, “So my daughter needs a whole new type of education, right?!”

It happens to me a lot these days — in random conversations at airports, schools, supermarkets, elevators, cocktail parties, yoga studios, Twitter and Facebook walls, as well as at my family’s and friends’ gatherings.

Why? Because slowly, everyone is realizing that our world is changing and in order to develop socially-minded global citizens, our kids need a new type of education.

Our kids need an education system that practices creative problem-solving, design thinking, analytical thinking, innovative teamwork, interpersonal intelligence and a variety of entrepreneurial skills to succeed in life – both personally and professionally.

In our 21st century digital economy, literacy is much more than a mastery of the English language. It requires fluency in computer science.

These new skills and knowledge are the new fundamental requisites for K-12 studies, college studies, 21st-century jobs and ensuring lifelong earning in the digital innovation economy.

Our education system must swiftly adapt to this new reality. We must reimagine schools’ goals and their learning culture, and invent new approaches for learning both new and traditional subjects and topics.

The traditional definition of literacy only includes reading and writing. But as our economy and society become ever more grounded in technology, that definition must change.

In our 21st-century digital economy, literacy is much more than a mastery of the English language. It requires fluency in computer science. As the new literacy of our time, computer science can no longer be treated as an extracurricular or elective course. It must be mandatory for all students, and woven into the regular curriculum in schools across the country.

It’s no secret that the number of computing jobs continues to grow across every industry, yet there is a shortage of individuals with the skills needed to fill them. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1 million jobs in computing will go unfilled by 2020. This means that without computer science education, we are not prepared for the economic needs of our future. It also means that students equipped with computer science skills will have the opportunity to thrive in our global innovation economy.

I have said it before, CSEd is a new human right that should be accessible to all students, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status, and universal access inevitably closes the digital divide. Failing to implement a strong, mandatory CSEd curriculum in our nation’s K-12 schools is an egregious act of social injustice, blocking students from an entire world of opportunity.

Mandating computer science education may seem daunting, as Maria next to me said. “It is a huge task to get these new subjects taught in all schools in my town in a good way, so how about the whole state or the whole nation; how long will it take to get it done?” she asked. My response was quite simple: “It really comes down to leadership in policy and curriculum – and the commitment of lawmakers and school administrators to implement resources and training – and we can get the job done. All citizens, in all positions, should fight for it – parents included – and it will happen.”

I told Maria about Chavez High School in Houston ISD, where Globaloria has been working to ensure all 1,650 freshmen and sophomores take computer programming, software engineering, video game design and coding classes.

Implementing programs like this does not require hiring a fleet of computer scientists – teachers can learn alongside their students, making it a fun learning experience for everyone.

In Beeville ISD, a rural district near Corpus Christi, a visionary superintendent, Dr. Mark Puig, is leading the way in implementing CSEd across his six campuses starting at preK and going through 12th grade. “I have no time to lose,” he told me. “I want all my 250 teachers to be trained to do whatever they can to ensure that all my 3,500 students in this small town of 13,000 have a chance to get a job in the global economy. They are the future of this community, my state, this country. Even agriculture and small-town business require technology innovation these days.”

Houston principal Rene Sanchez and Beeville superintendent Marc Puig know that CSEd not only provides students with the skills needed to achieve academic and professional success, it also closes the digital divides across socioeconomic backgrounds, bringing new opportunities to their underserved communities – urban or rural.

The breakdown of computer scientists in the United States is shocking: only 6 percent are African-Americans and 5 percent are Hispanics. These are the jobs that our current and future economy relies on. By shutting low-income students out of CSEd, we are only continuing to shut them out of the jobs of our future.

Preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow, the ones that may not even exist yet, requires 2-year-old Monica to think differently, innovate constantly, and always be creative, collaborative, entrepreneurial and analytical in her learning.

Our schools must provide Monica and and her peers with new educational experiences to meet those standards. We must challenge our students and encourage them to think differently across all subjects and all grades —starting young.

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Sanchez and Harel: Boosting computer-science literacy

Houston Chronicle

This article was written by Rene Sanchez, Principal of Chavez High School and Idit Harel, CEO & Founder of Globaloria, and originally published at the Houston Chronicle on July 31st, 2016.

We often hear that access to computers and especially broadband is a key element to helping close the digital divide that still gapes in our nation. There’s another, less visible frontier – one that’s arguably more important – in the field of computer science, where there is a frightening disparity in the number of minorities in the industries driving our economy and innovative growth.

When we look at the breakdown of computer scientists in the United States, only 6 percent are African Americans and 5 percent are Hispanics. That means if you gathered 100 computer scientists in a room, you’d be looking at a sea of mostly white faces. Yet, these are the jobs on which our current and future economy relies.

The gap largely comes from lack of access to STEM and computer science education by minority and economically disadvantaged students, a trend that urgently needs to change. We are making the effort to do so at Chavez High School, a campus community on the city’s Southeast Side, where 98 percent of students are minorities and 80 percent are enrolled in free or reduced lunch. Our vision for improving access to computer science education has led to pioneering the use of computer science (CS), design thinking and coding as approaches to spark student motivation and overall academic performance – all the while transcending language and socioeconomic barriers.

Our effort is important not just for Chavez students. If we are successful, our experience can be a model for our still largely CS-illiterate nation.

Throughout the Houston Independent School District, many economically disadvantaged students don’t have access to the internet or computers at home, making our responsibility to provide access at school even more critical. To that end, HISD has been a leader with its “one-to-one” laptop program, which provides every high school student with a laptop to use for learning at school and at home.

Computing literacy is no longer a luxury or an extracurricular skill. It’s the new literacy of our economy and society. CS education should be woven into all middle and high school curriculum.

At Chavez, we are working to ensure all 800 freshmen take computer programming courses where they learn CS, software engineering, video game design and coding. We didn’t need to hire a fleet of computer scientists for this; Chavez teachers are learning CS alongside their students. If equality of access can be achieved at a school like Chavez here in Houston – the fourth-largest city in America, and the most racially and ethnically diverse – then there is no excuse for the rest of the country.

CS education strengthens students’ analytical, problem solving, interpersonal and collaborative process skills – necessary for college-level studies on campus and online, for securing an internship and a full-time job across all industries, and also for succeeding in the new digital innovation economy. We must ensure that every student in Houston, and in Texas, has equal access to quality CS education, which is required for 21st-century success.

Achieving that access will take leadership in policy and curriculum, and the commitment of lawmakers and school administrators to resources and training. There is a bright spot on the horizon, with a push in Congress for new computer science education funding. A coalition of Democratic lawmakers is urging appropriators to fund new competitive grants to help school districts expand their computer science offerings, especially for students from underrepresented communities, according to Politico.

The need to boost computer science education in the U.S. should not be a political issue; the economic imperative is clear, and our work here in Houston can be a model for other schools.

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Globaloria Continues to Expand Presence and Impact in Texas Schools with a New Partnership with Beeville Independent School District

New partnership to expand access to computer science education for 2,500 students and teachers, transforming how students learn core subjects with constant exposure to STEM and 21st-century skills

Austin, Texas, July 28, 2016 – The Globaloria Company today announced a new partnership with Beeville Independent School District. Beeville ISD will become the first school district in Texas to implement computer science education for all districtwide. This partnership continues a strong legacy of Globaloria’s leading presence in the State of Texas with partnerships in 75 schools impacting 11,000 educators and students, and growing.

“At Beeville ISD, we understand that in order for our students to succeed in the global economy, a strong computer science education is a necessity,” said Dr. Marc Puig, Superintendent at Beeville ISD. “This new partnership with Globaloria marks a major milestone for our district, providing our students with a platform that truly helps exposing to STEM and become global innovators by strengthening their digital, analytical, problem solving, interpersonal and collaborative skills.”

Education Could Become a Game for Students

Read “Education could become a game for students” on the Beeville Bee-Picayune here

Globaloria is a leading provider of high-quality computer science education, focusing on serving all populations including all underserved communities – including minorities and English language learners – those underrepresented in the tech industry, and those from all socioeconomic backgrounds. The organization has a track record of closing the digital divide across socioeconomic backgrounds and in underserved communities. Beeville ISD, a rural district with 80 percent of campuses designated Title 1, is defying the odds to implement computer science education districtwide.

“Texas can serve as a model for states across the country as they look to implement computer science education programs in their classrooms,” said Robert Scott, former Texas commissioner of education and Globaloria advisor. “The Beeville partnership with Globaloria is another example of how schools across the state are partnering with an innovative leader to ensure all students have resources and skills needed to be true global citizens and innovators.”

“Computer science is the new foundational knowledge for our ever-increasing technological society and represents the new form of literacy in our digital economy, and a necessary mindset for solving the world’s most pressing problems,” said Idit Harel, MIT PhD, Globaloria Founder and CEO. “Access to computer science education is a basic human right and must be integrated in the day-to-day instruction, so students have a truly immersive experience. At Globaloria, we are so proud to be working with Beeville ISD to transform how students learn core subjects with constant exposure to STEM and Computing.”


About Globaloria
Globaloria is a leading provider of Computer Science Education throughout the nation. Using our courses and training curriculum, K-12 students (and teachers) learn to design, prototype and program educational video games with industry-standard technology and engineering practices. Our programs have seen success among teachers in schools in rural and urban communities of varied socioeconomic status. Research has shown that Globaloria is scalable and effective, educating students in both conceptual and technical computing skills and content knowledge that result in improved academic performance and increased digital literacy.

Contact for Partnerships: Ron Wolfe: ron@globaloria.com (214) 334-2406
Contact for Press: Matthew Di Taranto: Matthew.ditaranto@edelman.com (212) 819-4862

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White House Acknowledges Globaloria’s Commitment in Support of the President’s Nation of Makers and 2016 National Week of Making

“During National Week of Making, we recommit to sparking the creative confidence of all Americans and to giving them the skills, mentors, and resources they need to harness their passion and tackle some of our planet’s greatest challenges.”President Obama

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President Obama launched the Nation of Makers initiative in 2014 to give more students, entrepreneurs, and citizens access to a new class of technologies to design, build, and manufacture just about anything, as well as increased access to mentors, spaces, and resources to support making.

On June 17, 2016 the President proclaimed a National Week of Making, which Globaloria is excited to support. The week of June 17-23 marks the anniversary of first-ever White House Maker Fair, with hundreds of related events celebrating home-grown ingenuity will be taking place around the country in recreation centers, libraries, museums, schools, universities, and community spaces.

As part of National Week of Making, Globaloria announces their commitment to train 400 additional educators this year to teach Making through Computer Science and Game Design to an additional 20,000 students. We will also be celebrating the success and accomplishments of student makers through our Globey Game Design Competitions and Awards later this summer.

We are honored to be a part of the White House’s MAKER movement and to be bringing making through computer science and game design to thousands of students, many of whom come from diverse and undeserved backgrounds. Our goal is to scale and bring computer science and making for all. Read more in the official White House Fact Sheet.

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Celebrating the 2016 NYC Games for Change Student Challenge

On June 11, Games for Change celebrated NYC’s best young game designers at the Museum of Moving Image. The NYC G4C Student Challenge was an educational game design program for middle and high school students, supported by an amazing group of partner organizations. With the help of their teachers and veteran game designers, hundreds of students from public schools across NYC were taught how to create original digital games about educational and social issues in their communities, on five themes, provided by major sponsor organizations, who also provided domain expertise, workshop opportunities, and prizes:

Civic Journalism – Sponsored by The New York Times
Smart Cities – Sponsored by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Technology & Innovation
Literacy – Sponsored by the XPRIZE Foundation
Animal Welfare – Sponsored by A Kinder World Foundation
Youth Justice – Sponsored by American Civil Liberties Union

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Student Winners of the Inaugural G4C NYC Student Challenge

G4C NYC Student Challenge Winners demo-ing their games at the Museum of Moving Image

G4C NYC Student Challenge Winners demo-ing their games at the Museum of Moving Image

During June 2015, NYC teachers and students were invited to apply to participate in this first-of-its-kind citywide Challenge. Twenty teachers from schools in all five NYC boroughs were selected to receive robust training by Globaloria to run game-making courses in their schools and after school programs. After students submitted their games, a jury of experts selected the best games. An awards ceremony and a public arcade featuring the top games was hosted at the Museum of the Moving Image on June 11, 2016.

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Globaloria Students Featured in NYC ELL’s STEMTastic Day

On May 17, 2016, Globaloria students from Entrada Academy, Manhattan Academy for Arts and Language and George Ryan Middle School showcased their games at STEMTastic Day at the New York Hall of Science, hosted by the Division of English Language Learners (ELL) and Student Support, Division of Teaching and Learning, Department of STEM, and the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI). It was a wonderful exposition and celebration of our students’ learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Globaloria Students from George Ryan Middle School preparing to showcase their games at STEMTastic Day.

Globaloria Students from George Ryan Middle School
preparing to showcase their games at STEMTastic Day

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Globaloria Students Wins in 2016 MIT Dream It. Code It. Win It. Awards Ceremony

On May 5, 2016, Globaloria students won in the High School division of the 2016 M.I.T.’s “Dream It. Code It. Win It.” competition with their creativity in using computer science to solve a problem. Globaloria winners included:

• “Protect & Swerve” by Md.Haque, Joshua Lee, Shemar Dacosta, Christopher Torres (Bronx Academy for Software Engineering)

• “Reducing Carbon Footprint Game” by Michelle Morales, Jennifer Caceres, Sheira Medrano, Marielly Luna (The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria)

• “Stress Relief App (ARA)” by Michelle Gonzalez (The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria)

• “Breakin Bread” by Gabriela Cuautle (The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria)

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Providing Computer Science Education to Teachers at the NYC-DoE’s STEM Institute

On April 26-28, Globaloria was invited by the NYC Department of Education to host a Workshop at its Spring STEM Institute, to engage NYC educators in STEM and Computer Science Learning.

The NYC STEM Institute is offered by the DoE to provide professional learning opportunities to 300 educators in their efforts to identify and develop a STEM-focused approach to learning and teaching that supports student achievement.

Every year, teams of 2-3 teachers from NYC schools are granted the opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on interactive workshops.

Brenetha Chung

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White House Science Fair Acknowledges Globaloria’s Commitment to Computer Science Education for All

We are happy to announce that today marks the 6th and final White House Science Fair under the Obama Administration, celebrating the best and brightest future scientists, engineers, mathematical thinkers and innovators. In addition to the truly inspiring students who are using science to tackle some of our nation’s greatest challenges, the White House is acknowledging Globaloria’s commitment to STEM and Computer Science Education. In 2016, we’re committed to teaching computer science to thousands of K12 students and training 400 educators in 300 schools and libraries in rural, urban and economically-underserved communities.

Globaloria leadership and educators strongly believe that Computer Science, Design and Engineering are the new fundamental literacies. Therefore, we introduce all kinds of teachers to CS, and train them on integrating computational tools into whatever subjects they teach, much like reading and writing.Globaloria leadership and educators strongly believe that Computer Science, Design and Engineering are the new fundamental literacies. Therefore, we introduce all kinds of teachers to CS, and train them on integrating computational tools into whatever subjects they teach, much like reading and writing.

Since the beginning of President Obama’s administration, Dr. Idit Harel and her Globaloria team have been key players in advocating for and supporting The White House’s STEM initiatives including its newest “Computer Science for All,” for widening access to computer science education to all students across the U.S., the “Maker Movement” encouraging more young people to create and invent, and the “Career Technical Education Makeover,” providing students access to learning and mastering the tools to design, build and engineer, using innovative computational knowledge and skills.

“If we want ALL children to learn new computing skills and master hard CS concepts, we need to make learning fun. We also must train and support ALL teachers throughout the nation,” said Dr. Idit Harel, Globaloria CEO and Founder. “Inventing, designing, coding and engineering educational computer games and apps is the new science. STEM is the new literacy. CS is thinking power. Coding is the new writing.”

We are honored and feel incredibly proud to have influenced and impacted the White House’s Computer Science for All initiative and to be bringing computer science education to thousands of students, many of whom come from diverse and underserved backgrounds. Our goal is to scale to bring computer science for all.

Read more about Globaloria’s commitment and the students and organizations being recognized this year at the White House Science Fair here in the press release.


On April 11, Dr. Idit Harel (center) met with US-CTO Megan Smith (left) and her team at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, to share best practices and discuss the urgency of scaling CSForAll nationwide. They also met with Erik Martin (right), OSTP Intern on the White House Science Fair. Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 1976 with mandate to advise the President and Executive Office on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. Beginning in 2010, President Obama established a tradition of welcoming K12 students from around the country to the White House for the Annual White House Science Fair, recognizing the extraordinary work that our Nation's young people are already doing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and inspiring others to get excited about and involved in these important subjects. On April 12, Dr. Idit Harel (center) met with US-CTO Megan Smith (left) and her team at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, to share best practices and discuss the urgency of scaling CSForAll nationwide. They also met with Erik Martin (right), OSTP Intern on the White House Science Fair.

Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 1976 with mandate to advise the President and Executive Office on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.

Beginning in 2010, President Obama established a tradition of welcoming K12 students from around the country to the White House for the Annual White House Science Fair, recognizing the extraordinary work that our Nation’s young people are already doing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and inspiring others to get excited about and involved in these important subjects.

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Globaloria Featured in the School Library Journal Inspiring Librarians to Lead Educational Change

On March 30, CEO Idit Harel was invited to lead a Maker Workshop, as a part of a 4-week online course for librarians globally, produced and hosted by the School Library Journal. The course was designed to provide exposure to innovative tech companies and innovative maker projects, encouraging librarian course-takers to develop an action plan for launching or fueling maker programs. Fast-learning sessions were featured to bring librarians up to speed on the exciting work of some of the most creative makers from around the country.

The following excerpt was taken from an article published by SLJ Steampunk, SLIME, and Game Design: Lead the Change Fast-Learning Sessions, written by Sarah Bayliss on March 31, 2016.

About Sarah Bayliss

HOW TO DESIGN A GREAT GAME

Idit Headshot
Third up in this dynamic trio was Idit Harel, CEO of Globaloria, a company that produces an array of game-making software that leads students, from about third to 12th grade, through design strategies in order to create many different kinds of games.

“Kids globally love playing games, but they love making games even more,” said Harel, who emphasized the creative rewards of mastering this activity, which helps build computer science skills.

“Games are systems,” she notes – and a “fabulous medium for telling stories.” She suggested that students make games about subjects that they know, and showed games that students had created with Globaloria tools including a math game, Zombie Factors, and another that teachers grammar and sentence structure.

Student-Maker Project Examples

“When you start making games, you start playing games like a producer,” she said, in much the same way that people become critical readers the more they write. Librarians could potentially teach the game design with other teachers, she suggested – focusing on themes relating to civic engagement, environment, animal rights, social issues, among many other themes.

Key Elements of an Educational Game

Central elements of an educational game, Harel said, are an engaging story, that they are easy to play, have clear goals, and appealing sound and visual effects, for starters. She added that they should be fast and re-playable, should simplify a hard concept, and have a reward system such as points or badges. Game creators make atmospheric choices as well, she noted: will the game be realistic? Surrealistic? Fun?

While it can take a 10-week commitment for students to create a complex game, Harel encouraged the audience to use the starter MakeQuest technology in order to get their feet wet in game design, adding that those who buy access to all Globaloria materials get training with a teacher, open access to all platforms, and professional development support.

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