Computer Studies & Technology

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Bridging the Gender Gap in Computer-Related Fields

Girls and women continue to be under-represented in technology-related fields. Our program gives girls the encouragement, motivation, and skills needed to pursue opportunities in these areas.

From the earliest grades, Linden girls are taught to use technology in safe, ethical, and creative ways, and are encouraged to view themselves as producers of technology, not just consumers or end users. Therefore, girls learn programming skills in each grade. We begin with the basic logic that explains how computers “think,” and progress toward creating programs using fun and friendly interfaces that allow girls to build code using graphic tiles, and finally work toward text-based code (such as the Python language) in the middle years.

Media literacy is an important part of the computer studies program. Integrated with topics in Health, English, and Social Studies, our program asks girls to consider how and why digital media affects the lives of girls and women around the world. Our students become critical viewers of the media they observe online. They also learn to use a variety of digital tools to express their own voices, including word processing software, design and layout tools, spreadsheets, slideshows, audio-editing software, and movie-making programs.

As their age and experience progresses, girls discuss how to interact with social media in healthy and ethical ways, and learn to manage their digital lives (such as passwords and files) to develop good habits. Keyboarding skills that allow girls to type and use the mouse and other peripheral devices in healthy and efficient ways are also important parts of the program. The program is ever-evolving based on new technology, current events, and the interests of our students.

Linden also offers a weekly Programming Club, where girls mentor each other as they acquire new technological skills. The Club focuses on electronics, robotics, and programming on both graphics and text-based platforms.

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Safe and Responsible Computer Use

Students at all levels are taught safe and responsible computer use. At the earliest levels, this includes understanding the importance of passwords, protecting personal information, and avoiding unsafe online behaviors. As students progress in technical understanding, they are taught to better appreciate the nature and type of dangers online—for example, phishing, Trojan horse, bait and switch—so they are more aware of these risks and how to protect themselves. At higher grades, students learn about technical concepts including encryption and TOR, and their relationship to safe and responsible computer use.

Students are encouraged to reflect critically on the ethical dimensions of technology. This includes, for example, debating whether our laws are sufficient to protect privacy online, or debating whether we have struck the right balance between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of users.

Programming

Programming concepts are taught at all grades at Linden. The Kodu software allows young girls to experiment with basic programming structures such as loops, conditionals, and variables, in a programming environment that is immediately rewarding. MIT Scratch provides an opportunity to program in a graphical environment where the code is represented by puzzle pieces that only fit together if they make logical sense.

At later grades, students are introduced to professional-level programming languages such as Python and Java, and are introduced to data structures and algorithms. Code maintenance and product development principles are taught to foster professional coding habits. Upper-level students are able to analyze problems and design and build suitable software solutions.

Advanced concepts such as natural language processing and artificial intelligence are taught at higher levels. Some other programming modalities in the program include NXT programming for robotics and HTML and CSS for web design.

Hardware Engineering

The technology program at Linden goes beyond software and extends to electronics, computer hardware components, and robotics. The youngest students are expected to identify different hardware peripherals and be able to add or remove them from the computer. Middle school students get a chance to take apart a computer, identify its components, and put it back together again. They also experiment with electronics and circuit building. Our robotics program gives an opportunity to work with hardware and software to solve a complex engineering problem. Students work with basic, unassembled components to build a functional robot, which they also program themselves.

Office Software

Linden students are taught to be proficient with technology in an office environment. This begins from the earliest level with regular touch-typing practice. Students at the youngest grades are also taught file management and naming conventions, and gain experience with a wide range of software, including cloud-based software.

Throughout the grade levels, students are introduced to a wide suite of office tools, including word processing software, spreadsheet software, file management software, presentation software, communication software, and organizational tools. Linden girls are taught to be confident and skilled with any standard office software they may be expected to use in their professional futures.

Creative Expression

Linden girls get to see computers as a means of creative expression and to amplify their voice. Computers are tools that can be used creatively in a way that intersects with other academic disciplines. At Linden, this involves using music design software such as Garageband, Mixcraft, and Audacity; image design tools such as Photoshop and the Wacom graphics tablet; video editing software; and presentation software, among others.

These many tools are used to make creative products such as social justice posters, “history minute” videos, holiday greeting cards, workout soundtracks, movie trailers, magazine parody covers, “culture jamming” images, video tutorials, and websites.