Visions & Ideologies of Computer Science Education

BlackboardThe goal of this project is to create an opportunity for educators and organizations involved in computer science education in New York City to surface and unpack the diversity of arguments for Computer Science education and document these arguments in the context of a collaboratively produced white paper. These arguments and the assumptions they make imply a range of approaches to CS pedagogy and yield different intended outcomes and pathways for students; each ‘CSed ideology’ yields a different ‘CSed vision’ for young people.

 

Rationale:

Problems discussed related to the CS education policy and practice are often “technocratic” in nature (e.g., how do we find enough teachers? What tools should we use? What does scope and sequence for the curriculum look like? What do teachers need to know to teach CS? How do they get trained?). While those are important concerns to consider in order to meet ambitious goals around promoting access, those questions cannot be answered fully without also addressing underlying questions about ideology: what are the purposes of bringing computer science education to all students? Why is CS ed important? How will it improve the futures of the young people we know and care about?

We aim to promote an expansive, inclusive dialogue on purposes of computer science education. Currently, concerns about human capital and the diversity of the CS ‘pipeline’ seem to get the most attention within the popular press. Others rationales, such as those reflective of creative computing and critical and social justice orientations towards CSed, are less salient in the public conversation, even as educators and organizations throughout the city put a range of visions for CS education into practice.

By recognizing and validating the many visions and ideologies undergirding CS education we hope to support CS education to meet the needs of the city’s diverse students who themselves embody different orientations towards technology and computer science, have different gender, socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and who will face different challenges as they learn and leverage skills and knowledge in computer science. Unpacking the various ideologies will also help educators identify and advocate for the missing social and material resources and contexts they will need to support the CS visions that they and their students value most.

Sub-Goals:

  • Unpack CS education ideologies and visions that educators and organizations are already putting into practice.
  • Identify programs and curricular approaches that align with different CSed visions, their associated outcomes and their pathways for youth.
  • Generate recommendations for educational organizations, policy leaders, funders, on-the-ground educators, and CS industry groups, with the aim of fostering an inclusive and robust ecology for a variety of CSed visions.
  • Provide a framework through which educators, administrators and organizations interested in CSed can think through the kinds of pedagogies they want to pursue, what’s needed in order to enact them, and consider how various CSed visions might be included in their work with young people.

 

Audience:

  • Educators and program designers at informal learning and non-profit organizations
  • Public school teachers of computer science and their administrators
  • Policy-makers and funders involved in computer science education

 

Visions & Ideologies of Computer Science Education is a collaborative project between Sara Vogel (CUNY Graduate Center), Rafi Santo (Hive Research Lab/Indiana University) and Dixie Ching (Hive Research Lab/New York University).

Sara Vogel is a PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Urban Education program studying how diverse learners, including emergent bilingual youth, interface with digital media learning. She became interested in the Hive Learning Network’s role in computer science education as a Senior Program Associate at Global Kids, Inc., where she guided youth to design video games about local and global issues that mattered to them.

Rafi Santo is a PhD candidate in Indiana University’s Learning Sciences program and the co-lead of Hive Research Lab, an applied research partner of the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. His research and design work focuses on the intersection of digital culture and learning and its effects on young people and the organizations that serve them. His is the co-author of the book series Interconnections: Understanding Systems through Digital Design from MIT Press.

Dixie Ching, Ph.D., recently earned her doctorate in the Educational Communication and Technology program at NYU and is a co-lead of Hive Research Lab, an applied research partner of the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. Formerly trained as a cell biologist, Dixie has worked on the design and implementation of educational tools and media at various organizations, including the Center for Children & Technology/Education Development Center, Inc., New York Hall of Science, Discovery Communications, WGBH/NOVA, and Beijing Television.