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Computational Empowerment

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As technology permeates all aspects of everyday life there is a growing need to recalibrate our conceptions about the nature and content of K-12 computing education. Computational thinking has proven a strong and productive approach for introducing young people to how computers can be used as powerful tools to solve problems, through decomposition, abstraction and algorithm design. However, we suggest that computational thinking needs a critical counterpart for engaging young people in the ways in which digital technology is imbued with values, how it reflects the intentionality of others and the ways in which it impacts our everyday lives as individuals and communities. We suggest computational empowerment as a concern for how coming generations can be empowered to make informed choices about technology and act critically and constructively as citizens in a digitized society. This, we suggest, implies broadening the scope of computational thinking to include practices where students develop capacity for critically analysing and reflecting on the technologies of their everyday life and for engaging in processes of design.
In this chapter, we outline and position computational empowerment as an approach to digital technology in education. We trace the origin of computational empowerment through the participatory design tradition and discuss how it intersects with established ideas within computational thinking. We use examples from teaching practice to illustrate how computational empowerment may be operationalised and, on the level of curricula, and we discuss the curriculum for the newly-developed course in Technology Comprehension for Danish primary and lower secondary education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Thinking Education in K-12 : Artificial Intelligence Literacy and Physical Computing
EditorsSiu-Cheung Kong, Hal Abelson
Place of publicationCambridge, Mass
PublisherMIT Press
Publication year1 May 2022
ISBN (print)9780262543477
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

    Research areas

  • Computational empowerment, Children, Technology comprehension, #CCTD, #CEED

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