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Technology in a Context: Enabling students to collaboratively participate at the interface of computation and social science
 

Summary: Technology in a Context: Enabling students to collaboratively
participate at the interface of computation and social science
Abstract: How do we develop students who can participate critically at the interface of
computation and social science? The narrowness of traditional departments, the culture
of Computer Science Departments in particular, and a teaching standard that emphasizes
high baud rates of information flow are amongst the general reasons why educating
students to a more reflective orientation is difficult. This paper explores the use of
technology to organize the collaboration within a class so as to produce Computer
Science students who learn to develop technology within a critical framework. A case
study is presented that shows how technology can be used to produce objects of reflection
and analysis for the multi-disciplinary theoretical analysis of online activity.
Introduction
For a number of years the first author has been teaching a suite of courses in a Computer Science
Department that try to put computation, and technology in general, in a context. There are several general
obstacles to the development of a critical practice within Computer Science:
The narrowness of traditional disciplinary boundaries and the mechanics of completing
requirements for a major make it difficult to attract students to multi-disciplinary courses.
The culture of Computer Science departments tend to be antithetical to any kind of critical stance
towards the analysis, design, engineering, and deployment of technology. In Computer Science,
theory is equated to formalization and practice to technique. The context of computation, the

  

Source: Alterman, Richard - Computer Science Department, Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University

 

Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences