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Groundbreaking CS + X Degrees Expand into Education

by Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS / Nov 29, 2022

CS + Education students

The roster of revolutionary CS + X degrees has grown by one with the addition of a bachelor’s degree in CS + Education that students can enroll in for the Fall 2023 semester.

Illinois Computer Science is joining with the College of Education to offer a new blended undergraduate degree that has two concentrations – Secondary Education and Learning Sciences. Each concentration will have a different focus and different career pathways.

The CS + X degrees, many the firsts of their kind, offer a solid grounding in computer science with training in the arts or sciences that allows students to bring computational skills to fields where they are increasingly in demand.

This new degree option joins existing bachelor’s degrees in CS + X programs that include Anthropology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Crop Sciences, and more. Two other blended bachelor’s degrees include Mathematics & Computer Science, which has been offered since 1964, and Statistics & Computer Science, added in 1988.

A closer look at the new CS + Education degree follows.

Luc PaquetteCS + Education

There is now more opportunity than ever to enhance the practice of education with the assistance of technology. The current generation of students, if instructed properly, will know better than those before them how best to implement this technology within the educational setting, according to Luc Paquette, associate professor in Curriculum and Instruction.

“Computers are now an important part of learning, whether they are used as a tool to engage in learning activities or whether to learn about computers and how they work,” he said.

Paquette continued to explain the program’s particulars in the following Q&A.

How and where do the two disciplines intersect?

“On one hand, computers can be a powerful tool that can provide unique and engaging learning opportunities. This can take a wide variety of forms including desktop applications used in classrooms or at home, mobile applications that enable meaningful learning activities on the go, virtual reality applications that provide immersive learning experiences or interactive museum exhibitions. The development of the future generation of educational technology will require people that have both a strong foundation of CS and of educational theories to best inform the design of educational technology. This is the focus of the Learning Sciences concentration of the new CS + Education degree.

“In addition, there has been a growing interest in teaching about CS and computer programming in the K-12 classroom. Many students do not have opportunities to engage with computer programming and CS at a younger age, thus forfeiting the chance to discover whether they have an interest in this field. Offering CS courses in K-12 will provide such opportunities and may contribute to broadening participation in the field of CS. Learning about CS in K-12 is also expected to broaden benefits for all students. It should provide students with a better understanding of how the computers they use every day work and it will strengthen their problem-solving ability through computational-thinking. The focus of the Secondary Education concentration of the new CS + Education degree will zero in on how to teach CS in the high school classroom.”

What are some of the jobs students can pursue with this degree?

“The Secondary Education concentration is designed to train future Computer Science high school teachers. We anticipate that students completing the Learning Sciences concentration would be well positioned to work in the expansive educational technology industry, which includes developing educational simulations and games, AI-driven applications such as intelligent tutors, and immersive technologies such as augmented reality field trips or interactive museum exhibits.”

The CS + X enrollment is open for Fall 2023. Learn more about Computer Science + Education: Secondary Education and Computer Science + Education: Learning Sciences. Apply by January 5, 2023 for Fall 2023 admission.