The Ivan Allen College has been awarded a four-year, $3 million grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will expand an innovative approach to computer science education in high schools across Georgia. The grant extends NSF funding of EarSketch, a project that was established in 2011 by Brian Magerko, digital media associate professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication; and Jason Freeman in the School of Music.
The project uses musical remixes to introduce high school students – especially minorities and young women – to the world of computer programming.
EarSketch has already been used in K-12 pilot studies (including two Georgia high schools, summer camps in Georgia and other states, and Liberia) within the past year. However, the new NSF grant will allow Georgia Tech researchers to expand EarSketch to 30 Georgia high schools by creating a web-based version of the program. They will also create an online training system for teachers and specialized curriculum in conjunction with Computer Science Principles, a new computing course with standards defined by the Georgia Department of Education and the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program.
“We believe that incorporating EarSketch into high school computer science programs will increase and broaden student participation and engagement in the field throughout the state,” said Jason Freeman, the associate professor in the School of Music who is co-principal investigator on the grant.
The NSF award is the largest grant ever associated with the Institute’s Center for Music Technology and School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC). Freeman is co-leading the EarSketch effort with Brian Magerko, an LMC associate professor of digital media.
The new grant will allow Freeman and Magerko to build a fully usable online learning environment. Through a collaboration with researchers Douglas Edwards and Roxanne Moore at Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing, it will also provide teachers with a systems-level understanding of best practices and challenges for implementing EarSketch and similar approaches in high school courses.
“The project has the potential to fundamentally change how computing is taught while also bridging the gap for women and minorities in computing,” said Freeman.
Freeman taught EarSketch during a massive open online course (MOOC) in 2013 that attracted 24,000 students. The EarSketch learning environment and curriculum are freely available at http://earsketch.gatech.edu.