Thanks to a grant from Google, USFSM will provide computer training to high school teachers.

USF Sarasota-Manatee partners with Google to train CS/IT teachers

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: May 19, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 19 2017) – Two USF Sarasota-Manatee professors have received a $35,000 Google grant to help bolster the skills of computer science teachers at local high schools.

Dr. Giti Javidi and Dr. Ehsan Sheybani were notified of the grant two weeks ago. They say the funds will be used to hold a five-day workshop in June and a year-long mentoring program.

Their aim is to promote the development of Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science courses in local high schools.

Ehsan Sheybani usf usfsm

Dr. Ehsan Sheybani

“This is long overdue for Florida schools and USFSM is the most qualified institution in the region to respond to this need,” said Dr. Sheybani, an assistant professor in USFSM’s Information Technology program.

The two, who happen to be married, said that when they relocated from Virginia Tech University last August they noticed that few Florida high schools were offering AP computer classes.

The state’s department of education encourages the advanced classes, but, apparently, too few teachers are qualified to teach them, Dr. Javidi said, adding that she and Dr. Sheybani are hoping to reverse that dynamic.

“This year-long partnership with Google will provide the resources to train more high school teachers in computer science and information technology who, in turn, can train more teachers in the future,” she said. “This project will create and implement a high-quality professional development approach that incorporates face-to-face training with continuous just-in-time support.”

giti javidi usf usfsm

Dr. Giti Javidi

The effort comes as the state and Gov. Rick Scott are placing greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

While in Virginia, the professors made similar outreach efforts to nearby schools. To get started here, they reached out to the Sarasota County school district and Education Foundation of Sarasota County to make teachers aware of the program. They’re also urging high school teachers in Manatee County to sign up.

Only 20 slots are available, they said, so teachers must act quickly to secure a placement. The workshop will be held from June 26 to June 30 at the USFSM campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Afterward, the two professors, along with Ryan Kinser, an instructional technologist at the Out-of-Door Academy in Sarasota, will make periodic visits to the schools during the school year to evaluate and assist the teachers.

Registration for the program begins today, May 19.

For more information or to apply to the program, contact Dr. Javidi, javidi@usf.edu.

“We are hoping that by taking advantage of this dynamic program, the region’s high school teachers will be able to help prepare the next generation of technology-savvy workers,” Dr. Sheybani said.

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