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Interactive Web Notebooks Using the Cloud to Enable CS in K-16+ Classrooms and PDs

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Mike Borowczak University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Mike Borowczak is currently a Professor of Professor in the Computer Science department at the University of Wyoming, where he leads the Cybersecurity Education and Research (CEDAR) center. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering (2013) as well as his BS in Computer Engineering (2007) from the University of Cincinnati. His research focuses on detection and prevention of information leakage from hardware side channels. Mike’s current research interests include developing homomorphic encryption, compression and parallelized algorithms for streaming and pseudo-streaming data sources while developing authentic cyber learning experiences for K-20 students.
Mike also has over a decade of industry and research experience – mostly revolving around the semiconductor and bioinformatics industries – with specific experience at Texas Instruments, Intel, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In addition to his industry experience, Mike spent two years, while completing his Ph.D., as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow – teaching and bringing real-world STEM applications in two urban high schools. Since then, he has worked with university faculty to promote and extend K20 STEM outreach in Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming.
He has authored peer-reviewed articles and papers, presented at national and international conferences, and taught undergraduate/graduate courses in Computer Security, Data Mining, VLSI and pedagogy in STEM. Mike is an executive committee member of the IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Committee on VLSI, as well as an active member of the IEEE, ASEE, ASTE, among others.

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Andrea Carneal Burrows University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Andrea C. Burrows is an assistant professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Wyoming, where she teaches courses in science methods and pedagogy. Dr. Burrows taught at Northern Kentucky University for five years. In 2010, she was hired as an external evaluator to conduct research on community/university partnership relations at the University of Cincinnati. She has received several awards including the: 1) Lillian C. Sherman Award for outstanding academic achievement (2011); 2) UW College of Education outstanding research award (2015); and 3) UW College of Education outstanding service award (2016). Her research interests include partnerships with in pre-service and in-service teachers in STEM Education with a focus on engineering education applications. An active member of AERA, ASEE, ASTE, NARST, and NSTA, Dr. Burrows has presented at over 50 conferences, published in ranked journals (e.g. Journal of Chemical Education), reviewed conference proposals (e.g ASEE, AERA), and co-edits the CITE-Science journal. Additionally, she taught high school and middle school science for twelve years in Florida and Virginia, and she was the learning resource specialist for the technology demonstration school in Florida.

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This paper highlights a cloud-implementation of an interactive notebook tool that enables K20 instructors to incorporate computer science (CS) into their existing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses and professional developments (PDs). Three different K20 instructor-learner interactions are highlighted through case-studies. These case studies include: a university instructor's journey with professional development, a high school instructor’s self-guided learning, and finally an elementary instructor’s transition from learner to instructor of new content (CS).

One main challenge in incorporating CS into existing instruction surrounds the technical setup costs and infrastructure requirements. Instructors would like to easily incorporate computer science into their existing courses and professional development, but non-programming centric classrooms are rarely enabled to provide an appropriate learning environment. Many current introductions to CS focus on limited web-enabled activities, and once the mini-course activity is completed, the learner is expected to transition their programming from a constrained programming environment to their local computer. This transition generally stifles their continued use, learning, and involvement with the target programming language.

These instructor-learner challenges lead to two main research questions. First, how does a web-based programming environment enable K20 STEM instructors to incorporate computer science concepts into their instruction? And secondly, do web-based programming environments increase learner engagement after initial instruction? The three case studies in this research originated during a 16-day professional development funded through a math and science partnership (MSP) grant. During the professional development 22 K-12 instructors were exposed to the python programming language over the course of four days. All of the programming, notes, and lessons materials were hosted using interactive notebooks, using open-source tools including Jupyter notebooks as well as Jupyterhub.

The study uses the 32 hours of exposure to Jupyter notebooks, its utilization, formal and informal instructor/learner interviews, pre/post content knowledge scores, and finally a technology implementation survey to answer the two research questions surrounding the use of web-based programming environments to lower the barrier of entry for CS in existing STEM courses.

Qualitatively data (e.g surveys and informal interview quotes) show initial hesitation in learning a new programing language, but instructors gain confidence and begin to use web-based tools to continue their learning. One quote that exemplifies the willingness to explore Python through Jupyter came from an instructor who said, "the tutorials really helped me understand Python code, and now I'd like to take a class in Python along the same lines." Another instructor mentioned that “it would be great if I could have my students programming online, I know they would go home and continue working on it.” Other findings indicate that instructors are much more likely to re-use and implement computer science in their existing courses when the challenges of doing so are not administrative or bound to computing resources. In other words, web-based technologies allow initial CS introductions without long-term commitment from district technology resources or facilitators. Additionally, the instructors in a CS based PD are more likely to become self-learners and implement CS concepts in their own classrooms when given access to a web-based programming interface.

In conclusion, exposure, continuous access, and use of live notebooks during the PD and in schools enables K20 instructor to more readily implement CS concepts within their own courses. The implication allows future PD and instructional facilitators a mechanism to get K20 instructors to utilize JupyterHub as a means for incorporating CS into existing STEM content.

Borowczak, M., & Burrows, A. C. (2017, June), Interactive Web Notebooks Using the Cloud to Enable CS in K-16+ Classrooms and PDs Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015