We explore how to support teaching and learning of computational thinking (CT) practices in interdisciplinary, age-appropriate contexts. To prepare youth to be computationally literate in a digital world economy, approaches have emerged aiming to make text-based programming more widely applicable, accessible, and age-appropriate. Growing evidence, however, shows that a third approach of leveraging storytelling can make programming more accessible as well as increase interest in computation, especially for girls and younger children (Kelleher, Pausch, & Kiesler, 2007; Ryokai, Lee, & Breitbart, 2009). We adopt this storytelling approach in this project. Specifically, we examine how young people design place-based stories. Through the design process, students conduct rigorous inquiry on a topic often using or generating primary data and sources. They then engage in an iterative design process to build a computational artifact with augmented-reality (AR) technologies. Computing with place and story is an inherently integrative activity that brings together STEM and computer sciences practices in a range of other disciplinary contexts like social sciences and humanities, which draw on narrative as part of their core practice.
Breanne K. Litts is an Assistant Professor in Instructional Technologies and Learning Sciences and director of Learn Explore Design Lab at Utah State University. She investigates how people learn by and collaborate through making, designing, and producing and develops technologies and learning environments to support these interdisciplinary activities.
Whitney Lewis, a Graduate Research Assistant, is interested in how people generate ideas and how supports can aid in the ideation process. She has conducted research with youth in different making contexts such as libraries and maker clubs.
Lili Yan, a graduate student, has six-year experience of teaching English in Chinese colleges. She has participated in the nation-wide reform of college English curriculum and courses and helped with the integration of mobile learning and EAP courses when she was teaching in Shanghai. She is an active practitioner of a variety of instructional technologies, ranging from e-portfolio assessments to QR code quizzes. Her latest research project about EAP teaching in Chinese private colleges has been funded by Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Education.
Apoorva Chauhan, a PhD candidate in Computer Science (CS) at Utah State University (USU), determines how social media can be used to improve communications during crisis events. Her research has resulted in five conference papers (one at the top conference in Human-Computer Interaction), four posters, and two best student paper nominations.
Chase Mortensen, an Undergraduate Research Assistant, is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Utah State University. He is interested in mobile computing and virtual reality, and assists with research involving computational thinking and the Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling (ARIS) mobile application development platform.
Julie Lamarra, a doctoral student, currently teaches in the Outdoor Product Design and Development program at USU. She has helped develop and implement new curriculum and courses taught in the major, specifically; Color Theory (3400), Digital Technologies I (4420), and Digital Technologies II (4430).