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Thursday, October 6 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
CS4All, but why? A Framework for Examining the Purposes and Ideologies behind Computer Science Education Initiatives

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As current momentum grows around expanding Computer Science education at the K-12 level, associated public policy narratives assume that we’ve addressed the core question: Why teach CS to all students? The presumed answer in public debates has been simple: Making sure kids are “job ready on day 1,” as President Obama stated in his announcement of the national CS for All (CS4All) initiative. In this panel, we present a project that aims to expand the vision of “Computer Science for All” to go beyond ‘job readiness’ rationales to include a range of purposes, including those currently receiving less attention in public discourse such as creative computation and critical or social justice-oriented approaches to technological production.

The current growth of K-12 CS education is arguably unprecedented. The federal government has increased funding through its Computer Science for All initiative, and cities across the country including Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles are following suit. Problems currently being discussed by stakeholders in CS4All initiatives are generally “technocratic” in nature (e.g., How do we find and train enough teachers? What tools should we use? What does the scope and sequence for the curriculum look like?) While those are important concerns to consider in order to meet the ambitious access-oriented goal driving these initiatives, those more “technocratic” questions cannot be answered fully without first addressing underlying questions about ideology: What are the purposes of bringing computer science education to all students? Why is CS ed important? How might it improve the futures of a wide-range of youth?

In this session, presenters will introduce a framework that can be used to analyze the purposes of a CS education program, curriculum or initiative, and create throughlines between how purposes line up with enacted pedagogies and policies. Developed through a participatory knowledge building process in collaboration with leading CS educators and organizations involved in the CS4All initiative in New York City, the framework provides a well-defined set of purposes for CS learning that can allow educators, administrators and policymakers to carefully consider how their current initiatives reflect different ideologies and assumptions.

The framework outlines the various arguments used to justify CS education, and the general rationale behind them. It then details what each argument implies in terms of enacted pedagogy, intended outcomes and envisioned future pathways for learners, providing examples that emerged through discussions with CS leaders and educators. Finally, the presenters will consider how different visions for computer science education relate to and might support each other within a larger ecosystem around CS learning, and make recommendations as to how robust CS learning ecosystems that speak to the range of CS purposes might be achieved.

By recognizing and validating the many visions undergirding CS education, we hope to ensure that CS4All initiatives meet the needs of diverse learners who themselves embody different orientations towards technology and computer science, have different gender, socio-economic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and who will face different challenges as they learn and leverage skills and knowledge in computer science

Speakers
avatar for Rafi Santo

Rafi Santo

Hive Research Lab/Indiana University
avatar for Sara Vogel

Sara Vogel

Doctoral Student, CUNY-Graduate Center
Computer science education visions, bilingual education, video game education in out-of-school-time


Thursday October 6, 2016 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Emerald Bay C

Attendees (27)