Guest Lecture: Sarah Van Wart

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad

Situating Computing in the Lives of High School Students: Using Data, Design, and “Everyday” Web Contexts to Support Socio-Technical Literacy Development

Information and communication technologies, fueled by data, increasingly permeate modern life. As such, helping lay people and youth understand how these systems work — both the technologies that power them and their social implications — is an important modern literacy. In this talk, I describe several initiatives that aimed to situate computing and data literacy development among high school students, through various computer-mediated activities: local civic advocacy, citizen science, and personal expression.

Using examples from each of the cases, I describe some of the computational artifacts that youth created, and the social and political ideas that youth aimed to advance through these artifacts. I also discuss some of the socio-technical skills and dispositions that students acquired, and what those meant to the youth participants. I argue that creating learning environments that consider the social and technical dimensions of information systems together is more than the sum of its parts: helping young people to deeply engage with technical skills in relation to what they can and cannot accomplish, as well as their risks. These initiatives have implications for the design of civic, STEM, and service learning experiences, as well as for the design of ICTs that support data experiences for youth and novices.

Speaker Bio:

Sarah Van Wart is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information at UC Berkeley. She researches various approaches to situating data and computer science for high school youth, including designing computing technologies, activities, and learning environments. She has also participated in and organized several K-12 STEM outreach initiatives, including Code 510 — an after school program hosted at the Berkeley I School that supported teens in designing and building apps, games, and websites.

Prior to coming to graduate school, she worked as a software developer, supporting a number of city and regional planning initiatives. She holds a Masters of Information Management and Systems from the UC Berkeley School of Information, and a BA in Economics from Yale University.