Supporting Computer Science Education for Neurodiverse Learners

Kate Maloney, Executive Director, Infosys Foundation USA & Beth Rosenberg, Executive Director, Tech Kids Unlimited

As we push through the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no question that inequalities in the education system have come into the spotlight. No learning community was left unscathed as schools across the US shuttered to protect teachers, staff, students and their families. Through this surreal season, we have watched the virus disrupt learning for millions of children who come from different backgrounds with differentiated learning needs. These differences include Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and more. Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are recognized and respected, rather than reviled. This principle needs to be applied equally in society and the classroom — particularly when the definition of a classroom has been disrupted and transformed by virtual learning.

As we observe COVID-19’s disruption to the American classroom, we are reminded about what it means to teach and reach all students. With a commitment to advance equal access to computer science and maker education, the Infosys Foundation USA aims to be even more strident in its mission to bring valuable content to ALL students and families who are learning remotely.

The Infosys Foundation USA is thrilled to deepen our partnership with the non-profit education organization, Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU), to expand the offerings of our Pathfinders Online Institute to students with differentiated learning styles and their parents. TKU serves students who learn differently to teach them computational thinking and technology skills. In addition to the on-demand content already on the platform, a series of five ‘live stream’ workshops will be led by TKU for families and high-school learners to bridge them into the summer season. These interactive sessions are meant to teach, but also to foster connectivity for of families working together to close out the academic calendar with a final burst of inspiration and empowerment through computer science learning.

As we design learning experiences for neurodiverse students, we should keep in mind that they thrive in similar environments to traditional learners:

· a calm, quiet space to learn with the support of family and care-givers

· the sense of empowerment that comes from learning to code

· the gratification that results from solving logic problems

· the motivation that results from virtual learning discoveries

All are invited to the participate in these live events. Log-on to the Pathfinders Online Institute, create an account and discover the rich learning content of TKU and other computer science and maker education providers.

The Foundation and TKU are joined in the spirit of including all and we hope you head into the summer months inspired to pursue digital learning and unlock the potential of technology to shape more inclusive opportunities for all kinds of learners in future generations.

Infosys Foundation USA is a 501c3 committed to expanding access to computer science and maker education in K-12 public schools across the U.S. For more information, visit Infosys.org/USA.

TKU is a 501c3 non-profit based in Brooklyn, NY that works to empower children with special needs to learn technology and computer science in a supportive work-based community. To register for the Infosys Foundation Free Family Workshops in June go to: www.TechKidsUnlimited.org/events

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