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Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE)


CAITE designs and carrys out comprehensive programs that address under-representation in information technology (IT).

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CAITE Highlight

iJava Interactive Textbook Boosts Success

Boston-area students in advanced-placement (AP) computer science courses are using a new, interactive textbook, complete with an automated homework system, thanks to a collaborative effort supported by CAITE. The new electronic textbook for elementary Java programming, called iJava, is being used by teachers and students in six different Boston-area high schools. The text represents the ultimate in interactive training in programming: repeatedly throughout the book, students read a few paragraphs of explanation, and then type live computer code at their textbook – which responds to the submission in real-time with right-or-wrong judgments.

The iJava textbook was developed by UMass Amherst Professor Robert Moll, with the support of a FIPSE grant, to help students learn Java programming. It already has a track record at UMass Amherst. In fall 2004, only 63% of students in the introductory Java class passed the course final exam. After the introduction of iJava, pass rates rose to 85%. This is encouraging to students who are not necessarily technical in their focus (only about 10% of students in the class were computer-science majors), and may lead them to pursue further work in IT and computer science. The interactive nature of iJava makes it especially appropriate for AP computer science courses in high schools.

When teachers and educators attended a day-long workshop sponsored by CAITE, BATEC, and CITI, in August at UMass Boston, six of the teachers wanted to start using iJava right away. They became this first iJava working group. In addition to providing training for the AP exam, the students who successfully complete a year of the iJava class at their high schools will be eligible to earn University credit at UMass—saving them both time and money when they start college.

iJava workshops throughout the state as a way to encourage dual-enrollment introductory Java programming classes at Massachusetts high schools. For more information about iJava, see If you are interested in an iJava workshop in your area or in using iJava in your classes, contact CAITE.