CSTA Equity Fellow Vanessa Jones is a Technology Design Specialist for the Austin Independent School District in Austin, Texas, where she works at the district level helping to implement and facilitate blended and personalized technology integrated learning experiences.
CSTA Equity Fellow Vanessa Jones is a Technology Design Specialist for the Austin Independent School District in Austin, Texas, where she works at the district level helping to implement and facilitate blended and personalized technology integrated learning experiences. She’s also a Code.org facilitator for CS Fundamentals and CS Discoveries as well as a CS for All Teachers Ambassador.
For Jones, equity means personalizing the learning experiences of students and teachers and giving each and everyone what they need. “Providing an equitable CS learning experience for all students means that we are affording all students with the opportunity to work to the fullest of their potential,” said Jones. “There should be equitable access to high-quality resources, digital tools, curriculum, and personalized instruction, including positive and purposeful interactions, authentic student choice, meaningful feedback, using data to inform, student goal setting, and student metacognition. Equitable learning experiences would afford students to have different learning outcomes that are aligned to their personalized goals and expectations.”
“The one-size-fits-all does NOT take into account the different experiences, emotions, and prior knowledge students have,” she continued. “Many students have never heard of or experienced computer science. Many students are using devices, but they do not know the blackbox theory of how computers work. It is my job as an educator to bring awareness to students, parents, and administrators, including counselors.”
In her district, Jones works with various marginalized groups, including African American, Latinx, Native American, low social-economic disadvantaged students, and those with little to no experience or background in computer science.
“I try to remove the predictability of success or failures based on a student culture, social status or ethnicity, especially in computer science,” shared Jones. “I always acknowledge and identify historical inequities in the classroom and interrupt inequitable practices. I always try first to educate myself and continue to do better.”
In her position, it’s essential that Jones ensures the linguistic, cognitive, and affective needs of students identified, such as emergent bilingual students, are met. “This can sometimes be difficult in a computer science classroom, but learning is personalized, and students are able to set their own student outcomes and determine when they have met mastery,” explained Jones. “The various computer science programs that I use allow both teachers and students to progress at their own pace.”
Jones loves collaborating with teams and community partners that connect to her passion and goals to bring awareness and solutions to the inequities in computer science education, mainly focusing on women and other underrepresented minorities.
“My proudest integrated collaborative event was Code For The Cure, where I collaborated with Google, Vista Equity Group, TDT, Susan G. Komen, and Ann Richards,” shared Jones. “The event was designed to give ninth-grade engineering students hands-on coding experience, with a focus on breast cancer awareness. The Code for the Cure initiative was aimed to create a conversation around diversity, access, and equity as they apply to women in their careers and personal health journey. Participating students had five hours to design an app, and were then awarded prizes in four categories.”
Jones applied to become a CSTA Equity Fellow to learn how to bring more awareness to inequities that exist in computer science education. “I would love to collaborate with others that share this same passion of promoting and finding solutions to issues in CS education,” said Jones. “It is my passion and desire to provide quality professional development that allows me to address the issues of equity, diversity, and access in computer science. I would love how to further develop my missions and passions through the CSTA Equity Fellowship program.”
Learn more about the CSTA Equity Fellowship and this year’s cohort here.