It is clear that education is a vital driver for greater diversity, faster economic growth, and better preparation for 21st century careers. For students to participate in a digital economy, they need to learn the right digital skills today.
How will students prepare for the jobs of the future? What are they being taught? Is everyone getting the same access to this education? These are big questions, and at Infosys Foundation USA, we think about these topics every day. What we collectively do or don’t do today to support Computer Science (CS) and Maker education in the US will have far-reaching consequences for our children and our future.
For the third year in a row, our signature thought leadership conference, CrossRoads, was held on May 23-25, 2017 in San Francisco, CA, bringing together nearly 160 experts in Computer Science and Maker education. It is heartening to know this leading group of researchers, innovators, practitioners and influencers representing non-profits, local, state, and national policy organizations, K-12 schools, and universities remains so committed to CS education, coding and Making, as well as equity and inclusion.
Participants that attended include those from 133 various organizations across 32 states and 1 US territory. These individuals do their educational work across a variety of geographic areas (including rural and urban), and in many cases work with underserved communities and/or underrepresented groups.
Over the course of 2.5 days, CrossRoads became the right catalyst for all of our attendees to engage, collaborate and advance educational causes with 21 thought-provoking panels, 75 speakers, four design thinking sessions, and multiple opportunities to network with peers and new contacts. The interactive panel sessions focused on a wide variety of important topics and provided participants with the chance to engage in deep discussions from different perspectives.
The topics and key issues discussed ranged from the landscape of CS education in the U.S. and national and state policy efforts to engage more teachers and students in CS to creating more ways for youth to be agents of positive change in their community through making. A common thread running throughout every conversation was the importance of broadening the discussion around diversity and inclusion to transcend gender and race.
CrossRoads’ networking opportunities provided many guests the opportunity to seek out even more collaboration in the future with fellow guests as well as the opportunity for participants to talk openly about important and sometimes tough issues about CS and Maker education. Individuals could share their sometimes opposing and different perspectives in a constructive and safe environment. There is significant value in bringing together thought leaders from the CS and Maker communities, which could and should be more intentionally collaborating and learning from one another. In parallel, to introduce an Infosys Confluence panel on “Preparing America for Tomorrow”, the Foundation invited three CS education spokespersons, all of whom stressed the importance of investing in computer science education for America’s future workforce including Neal Sales-Griffin, CEO, non-profit CodeNow; Sheena Vaidyanathan, K-8 educator; Dan Garcia, UC Berkeley professor. In addition, panelists on Infosys Confluence “Preparing America for Tomorrow” event spoke on the importance of preparing our youth with CS education and included Hadi Partovi, Code.org founder; Eric Holcomb, Governor of Indiana; Michael A McRobbie, President, University of Indiana; Vishal Sikka, Infosys CEO.
To enjoy the content-rich CrossRoads 2017 conference, please review the videos and blogs below.