BOTS Needs Statement

In STEM Starts Early: Grounding STEM Education in Early Childhood (2017), supported by the National Science Foundation, McClure et al confirm parents and teachers need support to effectively develop early STEM learning due to their “anxiety, low self-confidence, and gendered assumptions” (4). Finding #2 calls for “more robust [teacher] training and PD to effectively engage young children in developmentally appropriate STEM learning” (5). Finding #4 recommends the Research-Practitioner Partnership model upon which BOTS relies.

In sum, there is proven computer science ability in pre-reader children, agreement of the imperative to prepare them computationally, and a profound looming deficit of a digital workforce able to meet the nation’s needs in economic, defense and environmental safety. Therefore, BOTS focuses on what most experts agree is the significant cause of digital inequality and the largest barrier to integrating coding into inschool early education: teachers need support to learn coding and to build it into their inclass curriculum. The teachers are not at fault. The rapid growth of digital technology and district funding shortages impair rejuvenation and innovation; yet as Margolis et al show in Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing, these barriers disproportionately hurt students in East Los Angeles compared to South and West Los Angeles. BOTS aims at the root need by working with principals and teachers who desire new ways to integrate technology into their daily lessons but need coaching – not just technology -- to do so.

Thus, BOTS strategically supports LAUSD’s 2016 Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) Task Force Recommendations, which call for “[p]rofessional learning opportunities for all stakeholders [as] imperative to educate leaders on how to incorporate digital learning tools and how to adapt instruction to the opportunities afforded by digital tools” (15). LAUSD builds upon the National Education Technology Plan (NTEP) in 2015, which identifies the need for teacher preparation, increasing professional learning opportunities, a culture of change and innovation, in order to “amplify instructional practices and address matters of equity and accessibility” (16). Also included are goals of the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE), calling for “educators who skillfully mentor and inspire students to amplify learning with technology and challenge them to be agents of their own learning” (17), resulting in empowered learners, digital citizens, knowledge constructors, innovative designers, creative communicators and global collaborators.

BOTS specifically responds to IT Recommendation 5: “Design and deliver learner-driven professional learning opportunities for school leaders, teachers, students, parents….creating safe and productive spaces for teachers to begin planning and experimenting with the concepts that have been shared. Too often, PD experiences center on giving strategies to teachers rather than coaching them on how to deliver the strategies to students….Instead, more personalized professional learning time should be spent on helping teachers plan, develop materials, and practice delivering the strategies with support….modeling such instructional practices in professional learning opportunities” (22).

BOTS strategically addresses these needs.

Published on March 7th, 2018

Last updated on April 24th, 2020