What is computing?
bridging the gap between teenagers' perceptions and graduate students' experiences
Sarita Yardi, Amy Bruckman
Zu finden in: ICER 2007 (Seite 39 bis 50), 2007
Studies show that teenagers perceive computing to be boring, antisocial, and irrelevant to their lives. We interviewed 13 teenagers from local Atlanta schools and observed over 40 teenagers in after-school technology programs to learn more about their perceptions of computing. We then interviewed 22 graduate students in the Human-Centered Computing and Human-Computer Interaction programs at Georgia Tech in order to learn about the factors that motivated them to pursue degrees in computing. We found that teenagers perceived computing to be boring, solitary, and lacking real-world context, yet graduate students described their research as exciting, social, and having a direct and meaningful impact on the world around them. Our results suggest that there is an opportunity to increase interest in computing among teenagers by bridging the gap between their perceptions of computing and the actual opportunities that are offered in computing disciplines. In this paper, we first describe our interview results. We then discuss our findings and propose a design-based curriculum to teach teenagers core computing principles. The goal of this curriculum is to prepare and motivate them for careers in today's expanding, Internet-based, global economy. We suggest that by portraying computing as an innovative, creative, and challenging field with authentic, real-world applications, we may be able to motivate teenagers to become more excited to pursue careers in computing.
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