This is a summary of an upcoming SIGCSE’20 paper titled “Abstraction Through Multiple Representations in an Integrated Computational Thinking Environment”.

There is some consensus that it could be advantageous to introduce computers to students at an earlier age. However, how it should be introduced remains open to debate. Approaches range from computer-less introduction to computing ideas to story-telling systems to dedicated computer science classes.

Contextualizing the introduction seems critical as seen in projects like Media Computation and CT@VT. …

I am a teaching assistant in a class called “Introduction to Computational Thinking” where we use BlockPy, a web-based Python programming environment that allows students to work with blocks as well as text (both separately and together). The focus of the course is on helping non-CS students to think about abstractions, algorithms, and social impacts contextualized through problem statements involving a wide range of “real world” dataset.

As part of a classwork assignment, students were working on iterations on a list of measures related to weather in Blacksburg (where the university is located). In half of these assignments, students needed to iterate through the list, make a decision, compute a measure (e.g. sum or count), and outside of the list print the measure. …

WhatsApp has hit headlines in India recently as a service used by people to spread rumors ranging from weird approaches to cure cancer to divisive political messages (and mobilizing lynch mobs!). A significant blame has been placed on the forwarding feature in WhatsApp that has afforded people to spread such rumors in mass scale. WhatsApp has taken some measures to address the issue by labeling forwarded messages and limiting the number of groups in which the messages can be forwarded (with stricter limits imposed in India).

At its core, the problem is a social one; not technological. Our social structure and norms influence the way we use technology. Our use of social media reflects the underlying social structures that we have in place. So, to put blame on WhatsApp alone seems like a scapegoat for a much complex social problem. …

We generally get surrounded by new groups of people whenever we relocate. This change in group raises few questions about our place in the group. One such question tends to be how well one is connected with the people in the new group.

Assuming that social norms and culture are consistent, and if you are male human, you could see how close you are with the people that you surround yourself with. All you need is your long beard and hair, and minor observation skills. Here is the proposed methodology:

  1. Be with the both the groups for the same fixed amount of time (I would say around 3 months). …

About

Aakash Gautam

Learner. PhD student at Virginia Tech. Interested in educational technology, design for and with marginalized groups, and issues of power and authority. He/him.

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