Mark Guzdial and Barbara Ericson, the husband-and-wife pair who together are reinvigorating computing education for a generation of Georgia students, have received the Association for Computing Machinery's 2011 Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, the organization announced today.
Guzdial, professor in the School of Interactive Computing, and Ericson, director of CS outreach in the College of Computing, are the driving forces behind Georgia Computes!, a nationally recognized program intended to enhance computing instruction throughout Georgia's primary and secondary schools. The program is one of the National Science Foundation's "Broadening Participation in Computing" alliances and has been copied by other states looking to make advances in computer science education.
"I am thrilled for the recognition from the ACM for the work that my partner and wife, Barbara Ericson, and I have doing for the last decade. We are honored to be in the set of past Karlstrom Award winners," Guzdial said of the honor, which is the first Karlstrom Award ACM has given to a pair rather than a single individual. "Our work has been about making computing more accessible to a broader audience, by teaching computing in terms of how people want to use computing--a 'context' for using computing."
"'Media computation' is about teaching computer science as a tool to support expression and communication, and we've shown that this approach attracts students to computer science," Ericson added. "In particular, we were excited to see that women and students from under-represented minority groups really liked these ideas, so media computation became a starting point for our efforts to broaden participation in computing across the state."
Georgia Computes! operates through a combination of teacher workshops, student computing camps and curricular support and consultation. How has the program helped its state? Georgia now has the highest percentage in the Southeast of high schools offering Advanced Placement Computer Science, and more than a third of all public high schools have sent at least one teacher to attend a Georgia Computes! workshop. Those high schools in turn generate about 65 percent of introductory CS students in Georgia colleges and universities who hail from the state, as well as a significant majority of female and under-represented minority CS1 students. Nearly 1,900 students have attended a computing camp or workshop at Georgia Tech organized by Ericson and Guzdial.
"We see this award from ACM as validating Georgia Tech's goal of making computing accessible," Guzdial said. "Barb and I are looking forward to continuing to make computer science education accessible to high school teachers and professionals.
"Computing," he said, "is a whole new literacy that is powerful for students of all ages."
Guzdial received his Ph.D. in education and computer science (a joint degree) in 1993 from the University of Michigan, where he developed Emile, an environment for high school science learners programming multimedia demonstrations and physics simulations. He was the original developer of the CoWeb (or Swiki), which is now one of the most widely used wiki engines in universities around the world.
Ericson earned her M.S. in computer science in 1986 from the University of Michigan, three years after earning her B.S. from Wayne State University. Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 1998, she worked as a software engineer for NCR, Clark Atlanta University, the Institute of Paper Science & Technology, and General Motors Research Labs.
The Karlstrom Award is presented annually by the ACM (which also bestows the Turing Award, the world's highest honor in computer science) to an educator "recognized for advancing new teaching methodologies, or effecting new curriculum development or expansion in computer science and engineering, or making a significant contribution to the educational mission of the ACM."