Groundbreaking CS + X Degrees Expand into Education

11/28/2022 Aaron Seidlitz | Computer Science

New CS + Education degree offers undergraduate students two concentrations with different intersections and different career pathways.

Written by Aaron Seidlitz | Computer Science

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

Illinois Computer Science is joining the College of Education to offer a new blended undergraduate degree with 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, offered since 1964, and Statistics & Computer Science, added in 1988.

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

CS + Education

Luc Paquette
Luc Paquette

In education, there is now more opportunity than ever to enliven the practice with the assistance of technology. The current generation of students, if instructed properly, will know better than those who came before them how best to implement this technology within the educational setting, according to Luc Paquette, an Education professor.

“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 with both a strong foundation of CS and 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 give students a better understanding of how the computers they use everyday work and 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 could 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.”

When would the first students enroll, and how many do you expect?

“Enrollment is open for the Fall 2023 semester. We expect about ten students to enroll in the program across the two concentrations in its first year.”

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This story was published November 28, 2022.