CS2105.01: Making Computing Socially Relevant

Location: Bennington College
Term(s): Spring 2011
Class size: ~ 20 students/term

Educators are beginning to attend to the challenges of developing meaningful computer science education: identifying a common core of intended learning outcomes, instructional designs, and assessments. Computer scientists are beginning to attend to the challenges of making computing relevant to communities and society and educating the next generation of computing professionals.

However, existing approaches to teaching computing tend to focus on small projects, solely for the consumption of the teacher and students in the class (“toy projects”); formal methods (the “traditional” approach); game development (“projects about toys”); or examples intended to be meaningful to the digital generation (“relevant” projects, but with a lower-case “r”).

We will review existing computing curricula such as the Association for Computing Machinery’s model K-12 computing curriculum and Cisco Academy; frameworks such as the media computation, robotics, and game approaches to introductory computing; and trends such as recent calls for computational thinking across disciplines to understand efforts to make computing accessible to a wide audience.

We’ll learn the underlying computing topics (programming, networking, etc.) at a level of detail that will allow us to address issues in curriculum development and instruction, assessment, and evaluation planning. Students will develop learning modules that are Socially Relevant (with a capital “R”), meaningful in the sense that they contribute to our understanding of and ability to improve society at large. This course will be of interest to education and computing students and those interested in computing education in service to public action. No prior programming experience is required.