Informatics Seminar Series
Fall Quarter 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

“Engineering Failure for Learning: Debugging by Design”

Yasmin B. Kafai, ED.
Lori and Michael Milken President’s Distinguished Professor
University of Pennsylvania

Much attention has focused on putting students in the driver’s seat when it comes to digital media by designing fully finished and functional applications such as games, robots, or electronic textiles to be shared with others. When students design such applications, they invariably make mistakes and need to fix their bugs. Here we often put students back in the passenger seat by giving them checklists, teaching them strategies, or providing them with test programs. While these approaches provide valuable learning experiences, they ignore the promising opportunities afforded that designing bugs for others could offer. Thus, a different but rarely realized proposition pursued in our work is putting learners in charge of designing buggy programs for their peers to solve. Drawing from current work with high school computer science teachers and their students, we address the following questions: What can students learn when designing bugs? What do teachers need to do? How does this work in a classroom?

Yasmin Kafai is professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a learning designer and researcher of online tools, projects and communities to promote coding, crafting, and creativity. With colleagues at MIT, she developed the programming language Scratch and researched applications and participation in clubs, classrooms, and online communities. More recently, she has developed and researched the use of electronic textiles to introduce computing, crafting, and engineering to high school students and teachers as part of the nationwide “Exploring Computer Science” curriculum. She has written several books, among them “Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming,” “Connected Gaming: What Making Videogames Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy,” and “Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World” — all published by MIT Press. Kafai earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University while working at the MIT Media Lab. She is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the International Society for the Learning Sciences.

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