HCN News & Notes

WNEU Receives Funding to Advance Skills in Computing Education

SPRINGFIELD — Dr. Heidi Ellis and Dr. Stoney Jackson of the Computer Science and Technology Department at Western New England University recently received a grant of $389,569 from the National Science Foundation program titled OpenPath — Improving Student Pathways to Computing Professions via Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software.

This funding is part of a nearly $1 million collaborative grant initiative with Nassau Community College in New York and Drexel University in Pennsylvania.

The OpenPath program will improve undergraduate computing education by developing a shared pathway through the computing curriculum. It will encourage input and feedback from students and faculty to address key challenges of computing education, by using proactive online learning in small groups with an authentic and exciting framework.

The pathway will consist of course materials and activities that require the students to utilize Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS), throughout their entire undergraduate education. This intention and collaborative effort builds on collaborative relationships with the Red Hat University Outreach team, the GNOME Accessibility team, and the OpenHatch project, all of which promote and support the use of educational open-source software.

“OpenPath will connect students directly with many Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software professionals from around the globe,” remarked Ellis. “These professionals have already developed an effective academic-industry collaboration that many students do not have the opportunity to experience. OpenPath will help close that gap.”

As it unfolds, OpenPath will help build a globally competitive workforce by exposing students to a unique community of international developers, and allow them to experience computing as a social activity with societal benefits. By giving students opportunities to positively impact society, OpenPath can also engage and motivate traditionally underrepresented minorities and women to pursue careers in computing.”

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