Maya Israel recognized as a CS Hero

Maya Israel recognized as a CS Hero

Dr. Israel uses research-based approaches to advocate for inclusive K-12 Computer Science Education where students feel they belong in computer science classrooms — CSEdWeek 

Maya Israel Ph.D., associate professor of Educational Technology and Computer Science Education, has been recognized as a 2023 CS Hero by CSEdWeek.

Israel was named a CS Hero for her outstanding contributions to computer science education. Her research focuses on providing accessible computer science education for all kinds of learners, especially students with disabilities.

Using accessible strategies, Israel’s research creates meaningful engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) computer science education, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). She is currently the director of the newly formed CSEveryone Center for Computer Science Education as well as the Creative Technology Research Lab.

As a CS Hero, Israel shared research findings and resources for educators to implement in their classrooms. On her profile, she provides a detailed video on computer science as well as UDL-guided lessons teachers can use in their classrooms.

Israel has participated as a speaker in CSEdWeek panel discussions centered around computer science education. As a named hero, Israel’s dedication to inclusive computer science education not only inspires educators but also significantly advances opportunities for all learners.

Maya Israel

Maya Israel, Ph.D.

UF AI Days @ College of Education

UF AI Days @ College of Education

Researchers at the UF College of Education are using AI tools to transform education and dramatically improve learning outcomes. Through funding from NSF, IES, U.S. Department of Education, Google and more, our faculty are exploring the outer boundaries of what’s possible. During day five of UF AI Days, we’ll share how we’re creating the future of teaching and learning.

Join us:
Friday, October 20
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Dorfeld Plaza (outside of Opus)
Norman Hall (College of Education)

Predicting movement using AI

Using sensors and programming hardware, we’ll teach AI to determine a user’s movements. Typical programs can recognize movements, but detection accuracy decreases significantly if the user’s movement differs, even slightly. Using real-time data we’ll train a machine learning model to improve movement detection accuracy.

Presented by Dr. Pasha Antonenko, Andrea Ramirez-Salgado

AI Chatbot, unplugged!

This station provides an opportunity to play a fun card game and learn about the roles of users, developers, and chatbots in chatbot development.

AI Made By You (AMBY)

This station introduces you to our innovative learning technology for young children to develop AI chatbots! Our AMBY (AI Made By You) software allows young children to understand the working mechanism of AI chatbots and develop their own personally relevant chatbots in an easy, intuitive way.

Machine Learning, unplugged!

This station provides an opportunity to play a fun game and learn about how machine learning (e.g., supervised learning, unsupervised learning) works in an easy, engaging, and intuitive way!

offline version of data training using utensils of varying materials

Presented by: Dr. Maya Israel, Meize Guo, Nykema Lindsey, Minji Yun, Tiaoyi Tan, Don Miller and Carly Solomon.

AI-enhanced math learning

Using our innovative conversational AI created to enhance K-12 math learning, we’ll illustrate the seamless integration of educational strategies rooted in learning science principles with the capabilities of large language models (LLMs), and demonstrate AI’s proficiency in extracting math concepts, providing clear explanations, recommending personalized instructional videos and enabling efficient semantic video searches. Emphasis is placed on our commitment to addressing ethical concerns associated with LLMs by employing style control and data augmentation techniques, promoting responsible AI usage.

Classroom Assessment Ecosystem

We’re using a powerful analytics tool designed to empower instructors with data-driven insights for precise interventions to address student learning disparities. Beyond quantified insights into learning process and performance, this tool delves into a granular question-level analysis, assessing difficulty and discrimination levels with performance gap visualizations and natural language processing to examine student discussions to provide comprehensive solutions for educators.

Presented by: Dr. Wanli Xing, Hai Li and Zifeng Liu

Find your future at the UF College of Education

Student Services staff will be on hand to help guide you through options to take you where you want to go. From an education minor to the education sciences technology track, there’s an option here for you.

Presented by: Aaron Ganas and Scott Davis

Pasha Antonenko

Pasha Antonenko, Ph.D.

Maya Israel

Maya Israel, Ph.D.

Maya Israel

Wanli Xing, Ph.D.

“As one of the preeminent universities in the United States, the Univeristy of Florida is committed to improving educational environments for all learners,” said Tom Dana, IALT Director. “The researchers working within the College of Education are collaborative, multidisciplinary and singularly focused on the idea of improving learning for everyone.”

Scaling Up Computer Science Education for Students with Disabilities

Scaling Up Computer Science Education for Students with Disabilities

Today, University of Florida (UF) researchers and Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) announced that they are launching a professional development program for computer science (CS) teachers and special education teachers, called CS Inclusion. The development of the program was supported by a $100,000 grant from Google. The program focuses on providing teachers with strategies and resources to expand access to computer science for students with disabilities, who make up 15% of all K–12 students in public schools nationwide.

UF Associate Professor of Educational Technology and CS Education Maya Israel, along with a team of experienced teachers and instructional staff from UF and BCPS, are developing a “coach the coach” model for professional development that can be used by schools nationwide and globally. The strategies can be adapted by teachers to meet the individual needs of their students.

“We’re doing something extraordinary here at UF with our partners in Broward County Public Schools,” said Israel. “With support from Google, we are expanding the scope and reach of this initiative both within Broward, the sixth largest school district in the country, and beyond.”

“At the heart of the CS Inclusion program is expanding access to in-demand careers for all students,” said Dr. Lisa Milenkovic, Supervisor of STEM and Computer Science in BCPS Applied Learning Department. “All students can benefit from CS. The knowledge and skills they learn can be used in virtually every industry that exists today – and career paths that will exist in the future. We are excited to be participating in this grant-funded program.”

CS Inclusion builds upon CSEveryone, the existing efforts out of UF to expand CS education in K-12 settings through teacher preparation as a part of the Kenneth C. Griffin CS Education for All Initiative. The CSEveryone team, led by Israel, is working to develop, implement and research innovative approaches that prepare educators everywhere to teach computer science to all K–12 learners.

“We believe that all students deserve the opportunity to explore, advance, and succeed in computer science,” said Carina Box, Google’s Tech Education Partnerships Lead. “The CS Inclusion effort is a scalable and sustainable solution to address a critical challenge that will have an immediate and lasting impact on so many students.”

To learn more about the CS Inclusion program in action and how it is already impacting students in BCPS, read “These teachers are bringing computer science to students with disabilities” in Google’s blog, The Keyword.

For more information on the CS Inclusion initiative, visit

Broward County Public Schools

“We’re doing something extraordinary here at UF with our partners in Broward County Public Schools,” said Israel. “With support from Google, we are expanding the scope and reach of this initiative both within Broward, the sixth largest school district in the country, and beyond.”

UF partners on NSF-funded National Artificial Intelligence Research Institute focused on STEM learning

UF partners on NSF-funded National Artificial Intelligence Research Institute focused on STEM learning

The National Science Foundation announced today that it has selected a team of scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to lead a $20 million institute to advance artificial intelligence to promote STEM education.

The AI Institute for Inclusive Intelligent Technologies for Education (INVITE) will be based in Illinois with UF as a major partner and with scholars and practitioners from across the U.S.

“AI holds the potential to transform STEM education by learning from diverse students’ data and empowering teachers to customize students’ experiences,” said Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, managing director of the new institute and a professor of computer science in UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. “The INVITE Institute will collect unparalleled datasets for training AI systems to deliver this customized learning, with a partner network of over 96,000 students across 24 school districts in eight states.”

The INVITE Institute seeks to fundamentally reframe how educational technologies interact with learners by developing AI tools and approaches to support three crucial noncognitive skills known to underlie effective learning: persistence, academic resilience and collaboration.

“We’re honored to be selected to partner on this important NSF institute, which is critical to ensuring that teachers know each child’s strengths and weaknesses and can adapt their strategies accordingly,” said UF President Ben Sasse. “At the University of Florida, we recognize that AI isn’t the next big thing, it is the big thing; using these technologies to help young people succeed will provide significant long-term benefits for our state, our nation and our world.”

The institute’s use-inspired research will focus on how children communicate STEM content, how they learn to persist through challenging work, and how teachers support and promote noncognitive skill development. The AI-based tools created as a result will be integrated into classrooms to empower teachers to support learners in more customized ways.

“Supporting all children as they achieve their goals is one of the most promising ways we can harness AI to benefit society,” said Maya Israel, an associate professor of Educational Technology at UF and senior personnel of the INVITE Institute. “With unique capabilities among its partner institutions, the INVITE Institute will create new techniques and technologies that benefit tens of thousands of students from a range of backgrounds and experiences.”

A key purpose of the INVITE research is to broaden engagement with and learning of STEM among historically marginalized groups at K-12 levels by investigating emerging AI techniques and building intelligent technologies. Postsecondary students will be heavily involved through educational and research opportunities that strive to build a diverse workforce of scientists and engineers.

“In the INVITE Institute, our talented faculty will leverage unique AI infrastructure in a multi-institutional effort that addresses arguably the most important responsibility we have, namely the preparation of our children for future success,” said David Norton, vice president for research at UF. “University of Florida researchers will join others to understand how AI and related technologies can improve the educational experience for K-12 learners. This is critically important as we seek to elevate education for all students in our country.”

The institute will build national capacity for AI research and broadening participation in computing through nationwide partnerships, professional development programs, outreach and community activities, and provide a wide range of AI in education resources.

The NSF’s funding partner for the INVITE Institute is the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.

With more than $500 million in support from the NSF and its funding partners, the National AI Institutes represent the most significant federal investment in AI research and workforce development to date, according to the agency.

This story was originally published at

Kristy Elizabeth Boyer

Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, Ph.D.

Maya Israel

Maya Israel, Ph.D.

“This is a perfect example of dynamic collaboration across UF that promises to transform education,” said College of Education Dean Glenn Good. “Dr. Israel has been leading research around computer science in K-12 settings for years, growing significant domain expertise, and her work with this NSF AI Institute will surely capitalize on that compendium of knowledge.”

Uncovering students’ problem-solving processes in game-based learning environments

Uncovering students’ problem-solving processes in game-based learning environments


As one of the most desired skills for contemporary education and career, problem-solving is fundamental and critical in game-based learning research. However, students’ implicit and self-controlled learning processes in games make it difficult to understand their problem-solving behaviors. Observational and qualitative methods, such as interviews and exams, fail to capture students’ in-process difficulties. By integrating data mining techniques, this study explored students’ problem-solving processes in a puzzle-based game. First, we applied the Continuous Hidden Markov Model to identify students’ problem-solving phases and the transition probabilities between these phases. Second, we employed sequence mining techniques to investigate problem-solving patterns and strategies facilitating students’ problem-solving processes. The results suggested that most students were stuck in certain phases, with only a few able to transfer to systematic phases by applying efficient strategies. At the beginning of the puzzle, the most popular strategy was testing one dimension of the solution at each attempt. In contrast, the other two strategies (remove or add untested dimensions one by one) played pivotal roles in promoting transitions to higher problem-solving phases. The findings of this study shed light on when, how, and why students advanced their effective problem-solving processes. Using the Continuous Hidden Markov Model and sequence mining techniques, we provide considerable promise for uncovering students’ problem-solving processes, which helps trigger future scaffolds and interventions to support students’ personalized learning in game-based learning environments.


Tongxi Liu
University of Florida

Maya Israel
University of Florida