$ 1 million for culturally relevant computer training

Dan Hoffmann

To supply Hawaii educators with the necessary skills to integrate computer science (CS) in their teaching, University of Hawaii at Mānoa Assistant professor Dan Hoffmann studies the role of culturally relevant computing. Hoffmann, of the College of Education (Center of excellence) Department of Learning Design and Technology (LTEC), received nearly $ 1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its three-year scholarship program, Advancing Research and Practice in Culturally-Relevant Computing.

“It is an opportunity to collaborate with teachers in order to open up the world of CS while promoting and supporting Hawaii a unique place, history, culture and language, ”said Hoffman. “By adopting an interdisciplinary posture, we hope to go beyond the brief, standardized CS experiences towards something deeper and more relevant to learners.

The co-directors of the program include LTEC Associate professors Pierre Leong and Seungoh Paek, and Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies Associate specialist Rochelle Ka’aloa.

“For me, this grant represents our commitment to provide CS educating more primary schoolchildren in Hawaii making it culturally relevant to our keiki, ”Leong said. “Traditionally, most STEM the subjects were taught from the perspective of western culture, which makes it more difficult for the native students of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands to relate to each other.

A partnership between EUH Manoa and the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDDEN), the project will provide 230 primary educators with professional development on how to promote CS and culture-based valued results. In addition to providing resources and training for teachers, the project will explore how sustainable and culturally relevant pedagogy can be harnessed to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in schools. STEM– more broadly related fields.

“As a native Hawaiian educator who has spent over 20 years advocating, through my teaching and research, for increased access and opportunities for the use of technology by our haumana (students) to tell their stories and dream of their future, this grant provides a rich opportunity for open spaces through culturally relevant pedagogy to increase diversity and equity in student experiences in CS education,” Ka’aloa noted.

The Advancing Culturally Relevant Computing Research and Practice project team recognized Center of excellence‘s Mike Menchaca, kitty hino, Val Shearer and Keith Tokuda for their continued support as well as HIDDEN‘s Brett Tanaka and the Computer Science Working Group for their commitment to high quality computer education in Hawaii.

This work is an example of EUH Mānoa’s objectives of Research Excellence: Advancing the Business of Research and Creative Work (PDF), and Becoming a Hawaiian Indigenous Learning Place (PDF) two of the four objectives identified in the 2015-25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

By Jennifer Park

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