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Fostering Ethical Innovation via the High School CS Curriculum

Session 3
Jeannie Crowely, Saber Khan — Ethical Culture Fieldston School

The conversation will result in a curriculum designed to foster technical innovation grounded in global ethics. Students who go on to pursue CS at the college level will do so as activists, with a critical point of view. The curriculum will be implemented in the 2017/18 school year at ECFS, and shared freely under an open license so educators can implement the new CS program at their institutions with no funds or extensive planning required. Our school will facilitate an online community that shares changes, updates, projects, reflections, and student experiences in the program. We'll tear apart the traditional "amoral" CS curriculum for high school students, which focuses on technical skills without a consideration of the ethical dilemmas presented through the creation of those tools. Participants will develop course offerings which will invite & entice nontraditional students (journalists, activists, artists, etc.) into the CS program. Our current working outline includes courses such as Google vs. Oracle (learning Java while developing an understanding of the open source software ecosystem), Margin of Error (exploring pattern recognition, machine learning, and artificial intelligence and how seemingly small margin of errors have real-world impact when applied to modern machine/drone warfare), Echo Breakdown (privacy, security, systems, and the internet of things), and the Snowden Files (developing data structures, data collection, and the potential misuse of seemingly innocuous data).

Conversational Practice

After a brief framing discussion, participants will move into small group work either select an existing set of courses (samples listed above) to flesh out into weekly topics, or to create new offerings around their own expertise/passion. Participants will use index cards and table toppers to identify key technical and activist themes of the courses they're creating (#datastructures, #bias, #algorithms, #noflylists, #surveillance, #privacy, #opensource, #java, etc.) so new participants can join a group or pickup where another group left off. Participants are encouraged to move between groups at regular intervals to bring multiple perspectives to the developed course offerings.

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