CompSci Colloquium: Ben Shapiro (CU Boulder)

The Future of K-12 CS Education

We are currently in the midst of the second boom in computer science education in American primary and secondary schools. Yet the computer science taught in school classrooms today is essentially identical to what students learned during the first boom, which began in the early 1980s. Hardly any of the advancements in computer science research and practice since the 1970s, including the development and deployment of widespread computer networking, distributed systems, and machine learning, let alone the design of human-centered computing systems, are reflected in the educational opportunities offered to young people learning CS in schools. This disconnect means that adults are asking kids to learn a version of CS that is inauthentic to the current state of the field and to how they experience computational systems in their daily lives. Students and faculty in the CU Boulder Laboratory for Playful Computation are investigating how to reimagine and redesign K-12 Computer Science education to facilitate learning about contemporary computer science through creative, project-based learning. This talk will give an overview of the breadth of these efforts, and also take a moderately deep dive into one of them -- focused on youth learning to create distributed systems.

R. Benjamin Shapiro is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science based in the ATLAS Institute at CU Boulder. He is also faculty, by courtesy, in Learning Sciences & Human Development (School of Education) and the Department of Information Science (College of Media, Communication, and Information). His research group, the Laboratory for Playful Computation (LPC;, investigates how to help young people with diverse backgrounds to learn computer science through collaborative, creative expression and through the design of interactive technologies to solve problems in their homes and communities. This research encompasses the design and development of new educational technologies, and the formation of partnerships with teachers and community organizations to co-create inclusive and expansive learning opportunities for children and adults. He earned his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and was a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He has a B.A. in Independent Studies from the University of California, San Diego. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 3:30pm

Engineering Center, ECCR 265
1111 Engineering Drive, Boulder, CO 80309

Event Type



Science & Technology, Education

College, School & Unit

Engineering & Applied Science, Education

Computer Science
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