2019 Anita Borg Systers Pass It On Award Winner
Project Title: Re-examining the Materiality of STEM Learning Through Fabric-based Computing
The history of the computer is deeply intertwined with fiber crafts. The Jacquard loom was a model for the earliest digital computer, which was programmed by women and pioneered foundational programming routines. Today, women are markedly underrepresented in fiber crafts, with the exception of e-textiles which are rarely considered computational. This obscures the gendered history of computing and hinders imagining alternative futures for the who and what of computing. Fiber crafts, like weaving and sewing, can be leveraged for high-quality K-12 computer science (CS) education. One example of the potential of fiber crafts for computing is a middle school student who wove a lace pattern by engaging two shuttles (carriers of yarn). When translated into Python programming, the use of functions, loops, and ranges in parallel is visible.
Anna is a doctoral candidate in the Learning Sciences program and a Graduate Research Assistant in the Creativity Labs at Indiana University. Her dissertation addresses the computational concepts used with weaving and sewing; how youth engage these concepts while crafting; and which computational processes materialize. She argues that fiber crafts open avenues for expanding K-12 computer science frameworks to integrate the currently absent gendered history of computing. This award will enable her to travel to the International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning where she was invited to present her work.
Prior to joining the Learning Sciences program, Anna was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked as a researcher and lead designer at Aalto University in Finland on one of the largest pan-European projects on technology in education (iTEC). As a new media artist and designer, Anna leverages her international experiences across four continents to engage in research that spans across art, craft, technology design, and materiality of learning. She seeks to broaden participation in STEM learning through creative material practices and is currently working on (re)examining the role of materials in computer science learning through fiber crafts, including weaving and sewing.