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Fostering Ethical Innovation by Hacking the High School CS Curriculum #152

mozfest-bot opened this issue Jul 20, 2016 · 0 comments


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@mozfest-bot mozfest-bot commented Jul 20, 2016

[ ID ] 9a1fd1f8-2a00-47be-9d20-2effb3088f6f

[ Submitter's Name ] Jeannie Crowley
[ Submitter's Affiliated Organisation ] Ethical Culture Fieldston School
[ Submitter's Twitter ] jeannieccrowley

[ Space ] movement
[ Secondary Space ] demystify

[ Format ] hands-on, format-not-sure


We'll tear apart the traditional "amoral" CS curriculum for high school students, which focuses on technical skills without a consideration of the ethical dilemmas presented through the creation of those tools. Participants will develop course offerings which will invite & entice nontraditional students (journalists, activists, artists, etc.) into the CS program. Our current working outline includes courses such as Google vs. Oracle (learning Java while developing an understanding of the open source software ecosystem), Margin of Error (exploring pattern recognition, machine learning, and artificial intelligence and how seemingly small margin of errors have real-world impact when applied to modern machine/drone warfare), Echo Breakdown (privacy, security, systems, and the internet of things), and the Snowden Files (developing data structures, data collection, and the potential misuse of seemingly innocuous data).


We've done a fair amount of work seeding the curriculum, so participants will have several worked-out examples to start with, or they can use the sample courses to inspire their own new creations. I'll include a before/after of each course to highlight the difference between a traditional CS course (technical skills first) and how the new courses use a case study/anchored instruction approach to learn the applications of CS in the real world, bring students up to speed on modern civil and human rights issues in the field, and to learn the underlying technical framework of the issues we're discussing to develop a multilayered understanding of the everyday tools they use.


Participants will flow freely into the space and either select an existing set of courses (samples listed above) to flesh out into weekly topics, or to create new offerings around their own expertise/passion. Participants will use index cards and table toppers to identify key technical and activist themes of the courses they're creating (#datastructures, #bias, #algorithms, #noflylists, #surveillance, #privacy, #opensource, #java, etc.) so new participants can join a group or pickup where another group left off. The facilitator will help provide the vision and overall goals of the project to new participants as the enter the space, and direct them to working groups of interest.


The sessions will result in a curriculum designed to foster technical innovation grounded in global ethics. Students who go on to pursue CS at the college level will do so as activists, with a critical point of view. The curriculum will be implemented in the 2017/18 school year at ECFS, and shared freely under an open license so educators can implement the new CS program at their institutions with no funds or extensive planning required. Our school will facilitate an online community that shares changes, updates, projects, reflections, and student experiences in the program.

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