||The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) last
week released a report that addresses a
fundamental question about community colleges:
why are so many of them unable to successfully
secure federal funding for computing programs?
The report, "Digitally Enhancing America's
Community Colleges," offers recommendations
designed to spur new grant proposals, inventive
initiatives and dynamic partnerships that infuse
innovation into community college computing
courses and programs.
||available to encourage and help implement innovative computing education at the community college level,"
said Scott Grissom, program manager in NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate. "However, at
this point, we are not seeing the type of competitive proposals with innovative ideas and compelling stories
that we had wanted. We believe this report gives community colleges the insight they need to access the
funding that can make necessary changes possible."
The report, which details findings from a joint Strategic Summit on Computing Education Challenges at
Community Colleges, recommends the creation and use of:
Cognitive learning research to inform course design and delivery; Innovation in instructional design and and
"anytime, anywhere" delivery through technology-based teaching and learning strategies; Partnerships
among educators with industry to produce graduates with the necessary technical and soft skills; and
Nurturing experiences in technology-related fields for students, especially females and individuals from
"The challenge here is to bring forward more innovative ideas and implement them at the community college
level, to focus on what the computing field truly needs from its future employees," said John White, ACM's
Chief Executive Officer. "Going forward, community colleges can help push new teaching strategies that are
focused on technology, which will ensure that their students and their communities are engaged, competitive
The Summit identified a major stumbling block in computing education: "If students don't know what
computing is, why would they pursue it?" Feedback from participants suggested potential actions the
computing and community college communities can take to combat that low level of awareness:
Help students understand what a computing education is, and why it is a promising career path to pursue.
Actively collaborate among all education sectors as well as business and industry communities to enrich
curriculum and courses. Create well-defined curricula that positions computing as a first-choice career option.
"The unique three-prong mission of community colleges matches the unique needs of computing education;
and community colleges are easily accessible for future and current computing professionals who need to
update their skills to quickly adapt to the needs of today's workforce," said Elizabeth Hawthorne, chair of
ACM's Summit Steering Committee, and senior professor of computer science at Union County College in
Cranford New Jersey. "As community colleges across the U.S. identify ways of adapting and evolving, the
report calls on these educators to focus on infusing innovation into their computing curricula and, in addition,
place an emphasis on helping all their students become tech-savvy, employable citizens."
The report coincides with a growing national interest in the future of community colleges, including the White
House Summit on Community College and its four regional summits held by the U.S. Department of
Education, which Secretary Duncan convened " ... to ensure the vitality of our nation's economy."
The NSF-ACM report asserts that "America's community colleges have never had a higher profile or
shouldered higher expectations." In the face of the extraordinary rate of technological advances and their
impact on America's job force, the report makes the case that community colleges' development plans need
up-to-date computing courses and initiatives if they are to meet those demands.
To ensure a broad view at the summit, ACM's Committee for Computing Education in Community Colleges
convened a diverse group of 33 professionals from two-year colleges, four-year colleges and high schools.
Individuals from industry and government were invited to participate in the summit and inform the results of
The complete report is available online.
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting
computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field's
challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest
standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing
opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.
About the Committee for Computing Education in Community Colleges
The Committee for Computing Education in Community Colleges is the standing committee of the ACM Education Board
concerned with computing education at associate-degree granting colleges and similar post-secondary institutions
throughout the world. The Committee advises the Education Board as directed on all issues concerning curriculum, pedagogy
and assessment, and engages in advocacy and policy for this sector of higher education.
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF (703) 292-8311 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Appleyard Adams, Widmeyer Communications for ACM (212) 260-3401 email@example.com
Virginia Gold, ACM (212) 626-0505 firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Grissom, NSF (703) 292-4643 email@example.com
(Virginia) Celeste Carter, NSF (703) 292-4651 firstname.lastname@example.org
Association for Computing Machinery: http://www.acm.org
NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources: http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=EHR
Advanced Technological Education (ATE): http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5464&org=DUE&from=home
Digitally Enhancing America’s Community Colleges: http://capspace.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education
across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50
states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests
for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service