Is There Service in Computing Service Learning?

Paper I gave at SIGCSE 2012 in Raleigh

Paper Details

  • PUBLISHED:2012
  • JOURNAL:Proceedings of the 43rd ACM technical symposium on Computer Science Education

A variety of researchers have advocated for service learning projects in post-secondary computing programs. While these projects can achieve important disciplinary outcomes for the students, what has been under examined is the benefit that these projects have for the service recipients and their community. This paper argues that since service learning projects are meant to benefit both student donors and community recipients, we must examine much more carefully how computing service projects interact with all the social actors affected by the projects. Taking such an approach will require recognizing that ICT by itself will not improve or increase democracy, equality, social inclusion, or any other social good. Analogous to the experience of foreign aid recipients in the developing world, some service learning projects may actually do more harm than good. The paper concludes by providing some sample computer learning projects that are oriented more strongly towards achieving true service for the recipients.

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