Computational Participation: Teaching Kids to Create and Connect Through Code

  • Yasmin B. KafaiEmail author
  • Quinn Burke
Part of the Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations book series (ECTII)


We are proposing to reframe computational thinking as computational participation by moving from a predominantly individualistic view of programming to one that includes a greater focus on the underlying social and creative dimensions in learning to code. This reframing as computational participation consists of three dimensions: functional, political, and personal. Functional pertains to the basic programming skills and concepts that someone needs to learn in order to participate in society. Political purposes capture why understanding programming skills and concepts is relevant in society. Last, personal purposes describe the role that these skills and concepts play in personal expression for building and maintaining relationships. We discuss three focal dimensions—creating applications, facilitating communities, and composing by remixing the work of others—in support of this move to computational participation by drawing from examples of past and current research, both inside and outside of school with children programming applications such as games, stories, or animations to design artifacts of genuine significance for others. Programming in a community suggests that such significance ultimately lies in the fact that we design to share with others. Programming as remixing code makes clear that we build on the work of others and need to better understand the ramifications of this approach. We situate these developments in the context of current discussions regarding broadening access, content, and activities and deepening participation in computing, which have become a driving force in revitalizing the introduction of computing in K-12 schools.


Computational participation 



This chapter is based on a 2013 SIGCSE conference publication. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, University of Pennsylvania, or College of Charleston.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.College of CharlestonCharlestonUSA

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