Inclusive Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking (CT) is becoming a fundamental literacy skill, such as reading and writing, and expected to be used worldwide by the middle of the century. CT is “the thought process involved in formulating a problem and expressing it in a way that a computer - human or machine - can effectively carry out”. It borrows concepts from computer science, such as sequences, operators, and iteration as well as practices like being incremental and iterative, testing, debugging, abstracting, and reusing.

This project investigates the use of tangible block-based systems accessible to children with visual impairments to perform programming activities alongside their sighted peers and family. Unlike previous work that us mostly limited to building sequential audio-based actions, we explore the use of small robots in spatial programming activities.

Project Details

Title: Inclusive Computational Thinking

Date: Apr 9, 2020

Authors: Hugo Nicolau, Tiago Guerreiro, Ana Pires, Isabel Neto, Filipa Rocha, Diana Mendes

Keywords: inclusion, computational thinking, robots

Website: https://web.tecnico.ulisboa.pt/ist181960/gallery/


Related Publications


    • Current Practices in Teaching Computational Thinking to Children: Accessibility as an Afterthought
    • Marta Carvalho, Filipa Rocha, João Guerreiro, Hugo Nicolau, Tiago Guerreiro, and Ana C. Pires. 2022. Current Practices in Teaching Computational Thinking to Children: Accessibility as an Afterthought. IDC Workshop on Co-designing with Mixed-ability Groups of Children to Promote Inclusive Education.
    • [ABSTRACT] [PDF]
    • Recognition of computational thinking as a relevant skill set has increased its prevalence in school curricula, and the number of coding platforms and kits available. The inaccessibility of the latter has been a focus of recent attention resulting in the emergence of accessible approaches. Conversely, there has been limited attention to activities, how training platforms are being used in curricular practice, and how they are being adapted for children with disabilities. We present findings from a qualitative interview study with 6 IT instructors depicting their practices, experiences, and their views towards an inclusive future classroom.


    • Accembly at Home: Accessible Spatial Programming for Children with Visual Impairments and their Families
    • Filipa Rocha, Ana Cristina Pires, Isabel Neto, Hugo Nicolau, and Tiago Guerreiro. 2021. Accembly at Home: Accessible Spatial Programming for Children with Visual Impairments and their Families. Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference, Association for Computing Machinery.
    • [ABSTRACT] [PDF]
    • Accessible introductory programming environments are scarce, and their study within ecological settings (e.g., at home) is almost non-existent. We present ACCembly, an accessible block-based environment that enables children with visual impairments to perform spatial programming activities. ACCembly allows children to assemble tangible blocks to program a multimodal robot. We evaluated this approach with seven families that used the system autonomously at home. Results showed that both the children and family members learned from what was an inclusive and engaging experience. Children leveraged fundamental computational thinking concepts to solve spatial programming challenges; parents took different roles as mediators, some actively teaching and scaffolding, others learning together with their child. We contribute with an environment that enables children with visual impairments to engage in spatial programming activities, an analysis of parent-child interactions, and reflections on inclusive programming environments within a shared family experience.


    • Exploring Accessible Programming with Educators and Visually Impaired Children
    • Ana Cristina Pires, Filipa Rocha, Antonio José de Barros Neto, Hugo Simão, Hugo Nicolau, and Tiago Guerreiro. 2020. Exploring Accessible Programming with Educators and Visually Impaired Children. Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference, Association for Computing Machinery, 148–160. http://doi.org/10.1145/3392063.3394437
    • [ABSTRACT] [PDF] [LIBRARY]
    • Previous attempts to make block-based programming accessible to visually impaired children have mostly focused on audio-based challenges, leaving aside spatial constructs, commonly used in learning settings. We sought to understand the qualities and flaws of current programming environments in terms of accessibility in educational settings. We report on a focus group with IT and special needs educators, where they discussed a variety of programming environments for children, identifying their merits, barriers and opportunities. We then conducted a workshop with 7 visually impaired children where they experimented with a bespoke tangible robot-programming environment. Video recordings of such activity were analyzed with educators to discuss children’s experiences and emergent behaviours. We contribute with a set of qualities that programming environments should have to be inclusive to children with different visual abilities, insights for the design of situated classroom activities, and evidence that inclusive tangible robot-based programming is worth pursuing.

About

Hugo is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department (DEI) of Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon in Portugal. He's also an integrated researcher at the Interactive Technologies Institute / LARSyS.

Social Links

My Office

Instituto Superior Técnico,
Computer Science and Engineering Department,
Av. Rovisco Pais 1
1049-001, Lisbon
Portugal