Furuta and Shipman apply their research to support computing education

Dr. Frank Shipman (left) with Dr. Richard FurutaFor the past two years, Texas A&M computer science and engineering professors Dr. Richard Furuta and Dr. Frank Shipman - and Dr. B. Stephen Carpenter II, associate professor of art education and visual culture - have been part of a team funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education to establish a national, distributed digital library for computing education.

Their research project, Collaborative Project Ensemble: Enriching Communities and Collections to Support Education in Computing, is a joint effort with Villanova University, Portland State University, Virginia Tech, the University of Pittsburgh, Drexel University and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Ensemble Computing Pathway for the NSF STEM Digital Libraries (NSDL) provides resources, tools and community support for the rapidly evolving computing educator communities and their complex interactions. NSDL emphasizes resources for educators and students at the middle school through undergraduate levels although it includes content for elementary, graduate, and lifelong education as well.

To support computing education broadly the Computing Pathway includes representation from computer science, computer engineering, information science, software engineering and information systems, as well as computing-related teaching associations, professional societies, and industry. In addition to providing content for current students and teachers, Ensemble encourages more students to enter into computing professions by highlighting the need for more computing related graduates.

Ensemble explores the current and future of information access by making its content available via the World Wide Web, through social networks and via virtual worlds. The Texas A&M researchers are focusing on the various ways to use tools such as theVisual Knowledge Builder and Walden's Paths to collect and organize resources. They are also developing Ensemble's Second Life Portal.

The Ensemble research team and advisory board will be meeting in College Station in March to assess current progress and plan for the future of the Pathway for Computing Education.

More information on Ensemble is available online.