Dr. Rachel Billman
Rachel Billman is an advocate for including all students in computer science (CS) education. Through her work and research as an Assistant Professor at Towson University with prior experience teaching in the classroom, she realized how much learners with disabilities are left out of computer science at the secondary level, and from learning basic computational thinking (CT) skills in the early grades. There are many reasons why this happens, but it locks out many capable students from opportunities that could make a big difference in their options for their future.
By gaining an understanding of CT, special educators are able to quickly, with minimal prep work, find ways to show students what CT is and how it can align with their future interests.
As a participant in a Google grant project, Rachel added computational thinking activities to some of her preservice education courses. She used examples from across content areas and had rich discussions with future teachers who recognized that EVERYONE should at least get a little experience, and understand the importance of computing in our world. Her advice to other faculty is that it doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of the course to have an impact. Even a 15-minute introduction can make a difference to start with. The first barrier is awareness. So many people don’t know that this is a gap for teachers and special education students.
Want to learn more?
- What is computational thinking? Read the outline from Digital Promise.
- STEM and coding can be real winners for students on the Autism spectrum.
- Visually impaired students can participate in coding for early learning, tactile blocks, and high school and AP computer science
- Read about the robotics team at the Maryland School for the Blind.
- Hear from Dr. Leigh Ann Delyser and Dr. Maya Israel on the importance of inclusion for students with disabilities.
- Read how deaf students at Galludet excel in computer science
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