Participation in Computing

Part of the series History of Computing pp 147-163


Recent Efforts to Broaden Informal Computer Science Education

  • William AsprayAffiliated withSchool of Information, University of Texas at Austin

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This chapter describes some examples of recent efforts to broaden informal computer science education. The first half of the chapter discusses efforts targeted primarily at young people. Three organizations are profiled here: the Computer Science Collaboration Project (funded by the National Science Foundation), GoldieBlox (a construction toy intended to inspire interest in science and engineering among young girls), and Black Girls Code (an organization bringing technology education to African-American girls aged 7–17). The second half of the chapter concerns entrepreneurial efforts to teach computing to college-age and adult women. We present four examples: Geek Girl, Girl Develop It, PyLadies, and she++. They are all small, agile, entrepreneurial organizations created by small groups of people – mostly from the professional community. The skills that are taught here are mostly basic programming skills or the ability to use off-the-shelf technologies. Thus, these experiences represent not only an alternative path to formal education, but they emphasize a lower and less conceptual skill set that can be learned and put into practice quickly.