Durham, North Carolina, is a community home to one of the nation’s most robust tech industries, and yet accessible K-12 CS education programming remains scarce. Our team conducted award-winning research on the state of CS education, finding that what Durham needs is not only freely available, pre-packaged CS curricula, but also community-tailored, student-centered CS education. This is why we developed Mobile Citizens, which empowers students to utilize CS to fully participate in their communities by creating knowledge, sharing ideas, and solving problems relevant to their communities.
To create the curriculum for Mobile Citizens, we first turned to existing open-access resources like Code.org’s CS Discoveries and Google’s CS First. After evaluating the widespread high-quality open education resources currently available, we realized none quite fit the Durham community’s unique needs. With mentorship from the OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation) initiative and in consultation with Duke CS and education professors, we adapted Code.org’s CS Discoveries curriculum to reflect the more civic-minded ethos that our students in Durham have. Our student-generated, community-tailored Mobile Citizens curriculum has made a more personal, meaningful impact than curricula that is “one-size-fits-all.”
We are thrilled that our Mobile Citizens curriculum is being expanded to additional middle schools and after school programs in our community. However, the problem of access to relevant CS education extends past Durham; every community deserves CS education that complements its unique diversity and distinctiveness. CSbyUs employs the same pedagogical model of Mobile Citizens, but extends the curriculum beyond CS Discoveries so that the framework that has served our Durham students can also serve students in downtown Houston, small suburbs of Idaho, and all other communities. It was undergraduates who created more personal, relevant CS education with our first curriculum, Mobile Citizens, and we believe that CSbyUs can empower more undergraduates to do the same.