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EBP: The Digital NEST: Building Pathways to Computing Education and Careers for Latino/a Youth


This work examines the extent to which community-based technology centers that incorporate open educational resources can provide the educational structure needed to motivate and prepare underserved high school students, particularly Latino/a students in rural communities, for careers in computer science (CS). Community centers are uniquely positioned to provide access to relevant technology and instruction, scaffolding for CS learning, and a network of support, but there is little research on how to optimize their impact for youth that are poorly served by their local school systems. This project will lead to a model for other community technology centers to build educational and career pathways by leveraging online resources, linking them to national CS standards as well as local industry needs and supporting that learning with effective mentorship. It will result in a set of recommended strategies that informal education centers can use to effectively deliver and complement formal school-based CS education.

This is a partnership between a research organization, ETR Associates and the Digital NEST, a community technology center that serves Latino/a high school students. The work examines the efficacy of a suite of educational techniques tailored specifically for CS education in informal settings. The pedagogical component focuses on the effective use of badges as motivational learning devices through the development of digital credentials. Students will engage in hybrid online CS courses aligned with CSTA K-12 CS standards. In the process, this work assesses the social and motivational factors that affect engagement and retention in CS education in community-based informal settings. Given that less than a quarter of all high schools in the United States offer formal computing education, this research is positioned to address the growing need for CS education in informal settings and particularly students in rural settings.

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