Archive for July 30, 2010

AAAS evaluates NSF BPC Alliances

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has just released their report evaluating the NSF Broadening Participation in Computing alliances, including our own “Georgia Computes!

Telling the Stories of the BPC Alliances: How One NSF Program Is Changing the Face of Computing” was released online this week. The report states that while the number of students pursuing computer science degrees has declined nationally, institutions participating in the NSF Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program “are defying the national trends … with cohorts of underserved students being reached, gaining confidence and skills, and making progress towards degrees and careers in computing.”

via AAAS – AAAS News Release – “AAAS Report Finds NSF Alliance Initiative Boosts Computing Degrees; Minority Participation”.

July 30, 2010 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

If you were hacking since age 8, it means you were privileged. | Geek Feminism Blog

The argument being posed here is a natural step from the one made by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers.  If Bill Gates and Bill Joy got a leg up in the IT industry because of their early exposure to computing, then it stands to reason that those demographic groups who get access to computing first get a similar leg up on success.  Race and gender play a role in who gets access to computing first.

While that’s all true, I don’t think that access is the whole story.  As my earlier post today on digital natives points out, having access to technology doesn’t equate with thinking about it as more than a consumer of the technology.  While access to technology is a necessary condition for that leg up on success, it’s not sufficient.

A child’s gender modulates how her parents invest in their child’s education, as mentioned earlier. For example, girls, on average, typically receive their first computer at age 19, as opposed to boys at age 15. Note that age 19 is no longer high school, but university, when undergraduates have already chosen their major. If women typically receive their first computer as adults, and boys typically receive their first computer as children, then of course there is going to be a gender gap in CS enrollment.

Computer geek culture generally ignores issues of class privilege and male privilege when it comes to computer access, upholding a ranking system that mistakes the social privileges of affluent white males for inborn geek inclinations.

via If you were hacking since age 8, it means you were privileged. | Geek Feminism Blog.

July 30, 2010 at 10:03 am 1 comment

So-Called ‘Digital Natives’ Not Media Savvy – NYTimes.com

I’ve heard many teachers and faculty talk about their current students as “digital natives” who have uncanny facility with modern technology.  Some teachers have asked me if teaching these students computer science at an introductory level even makes sense, given their acumen with the technology.  The reality is that use is not the same as understanding, and ability to consume media is not the same as the ability to produce media.

The study discussed below in the NYTimes highlights that digital natives may not even be good consumers of media.  They don’t question the sources of the material they’re consuming.  Andrea Forte explored similar issues of information literacy in her work exploring how students cited sources and built arguments for their positions in wiki spaces.

It’s synchronicity that today Georgia Tech is highlighting the Glitch Game Project in their Digital Lounge pages.  The Glitch project, by Betsy diSalvo and Amy Bruckman, deals directly with one of these consumer/producer dichotomies: African-American teen men are among the most game-playing demographics in American society, yet they’re among the least represented in computer science programs.  Being interested in playing the technology doesn’t equate with interest or facility in making the technology.  Betsy’s great insight is that learning to be game-testers is a terrific bridge from game-player to game-maker.  In a sense, Betsy is teaching her students exactly the issue of information literacy discussed in the NYTimes piece below — it’s about having a critical eye about the technology.

So, to all those teachers worried about being made obsolete by digital natives, rest easy.  You have a LOT to teach them.

A new study coming out of Northwestern University, discovered that college students have a decided lack of Web savvy, especially when it comes to search engines and the ability to determine the credibility of search results. Apparently, the students favor search engine rankings above all other factors. The only thing that matters is that something is the top search result, not that it’s legit.

During the study, one of the researchers asked a study participant, “What is this website?” The student answered, “Oh, I don’t know. The first thing that came up.”

via So-Called ‘Digital Natives’ Not Media Savvy, New Study Shows – NYTimes.com.

July 30, 2010 at 9:45 am 7 comments


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