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Erik Brunvand Nina McCurdy
School of Computing School of Computing
University of Utah University of Utah
50 Central Campus Dr. 50 Central Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Salt Lake City, U T USA
© 2017 ACM. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3017680.3017714
One positive facet of increased technological fluency is an
improved sense of empowerment around basic electronics and
programming. While electronics are ubiquitous in modern
society, there is a general lack of understanding of how such
devices actually function, and as a consequence, general intimidation around fixing and tinkering. As we suspect is the case
with circuit bending and hardware hacking in general, we found
that this course helped to demystify basic electronics and gave
students a sense of empowerment, encouraging them to, for instance, go home and take apart a malfunctioning appliance (
unplugged, of course!) to see what was wrong. This empowerment
was reflected in the post-survey results that showed increased
levels of confidence across the board in technical areas (Table
3). We saw a similar empowerment in regards to programming,
especially in terms of modifying existing code, which is not surprising given that we gave many coding examples to get students started. We suspect that a greater emphasis on programming throughout the course would have increased confidence
even further in writing, rather than modifying, code.
Perhaps our favorite comment from the student evaluations
is from Spring 2016: “While the course was not necessarily an
electronics course it taught me a great deal about electronics
and programming, as I came in with no knowledge or experience of either.” We believe that the course is an electronics and
programming course involving those aspects of technological
fluency. That the student perceived it as something different
- a course about sound-art and digital media - but ended up
learning a great deal about electronics and programming fits
exactly with our hope that a class such as this can be interesting
and compelling to a wide variety of students. It also matches
our belief that technological fluency can be taught such that the
technological content can be seen as a natural component of
the broader arts context.
We thank the Office of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah for their
support through a University Professorship, and the Graduate School at the University
of Utah for their support through a University Teaching Assistantship.
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