CDI-Type II: Collaborative Research: Preparing the Next Generation of Computational Thinkers: Transforming Learning and Education Through Cooperation in Decentralized Networks

October 1st, 2010 - September 30th, 2014 | PROJECT

This project's aim is to understand collaboration, cooperation, and learning in the context of a large, distributed virtual organization consisting of children and teachers building web-based simulations and animations using the Scratch software. The PIs will study the nature and patterns of cooperation in the Scratch decentralized learning environment, establish principles to guide the development of systems that foster cooperative attitudes and behaviors, and develop strategies to cultivate computational-thinking capacities that are important for productive cooperation and problem-solving in virtual organizations. The Scratch community consists of over 400,000 registered members discussing, remixing, and reusing more than a million projects. The project is a collaborative project with researchers from MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania drawn from computer science, psychology, child development, education, organizational science, and economics. Using a novel combination of experimental and ethnographic methods, the research will provide insights into how young people cooperate in virtual organizations, their attitudes and motivations related to cooperation, and their development of computational-thinking skills and capacities necessary for productive cooperation and creative learning. The researchers expect that the findings will contribute to the design and understanding of more effective virtual organizations, particularly in the areas of learning, education, and cooperative creation. The methods used include observational studies, design interventions, and field experiments. The test bed will be the Scratch community and the evaluations will be done by mining the online record of cooperation in the construction of new simulations and animations. The outcomes of the project will include an improved Scratch environment, design principles for the construction of distributed virtual organizations that encourage cooperation and co-construction of knowledge and artifacts, and new methods of teaching computational thinking in an engaging environment. The Scratch community of 400,000 members will be part of this work. This project is potentially transformative because of the engaging nature of this particular application, because of its applicability to similar virtual communities, and because of its promise to reach a diverse community of learners.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Mitchel Resnick, Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Natalie Rusk, Co-Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John Maloney, Co-Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Yochai Benkler, Principal Investigator, Harvard University
Yasmin Kafai, Principal Investigator, University of Pennsylvania


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: CDI TYPE II
Award Number: 1027848
Funding Amount: 1179020

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: CDI TYPE II
Award Number: 1026473
Funding Amount: 295110

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: REAL
Award Number: 1027736
Funding Amount: 648551


Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Computing and information science | Education and learning science | Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology