None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds: Critical Computational Literacy as a Pedagogy of Resistance

Clifford Lee, Elisabeth Soep

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Critical computational literacy (CCL) is a new pedagogical and conceptual framework that combines the strengths of critical literacy and computational thinking. Through CCL, young people conceptualize, create, and disseminate digital projects that break silences, expose important truths, and challenge unjust systems, all the while building skills such as coding and design. This empirical study of CCL is based at Youth Radio, a nationally recognized multimedia production company in Oakland, California. Using embedded ethnographic methods, we focus on one collaborative project inside Youth Radio's Interactive department, where young people partnered with adult colleagues to produce a web-based interactive map of gentrification in a West Oakland neighborhood. Findings demonstrate a highly sophisticated knowledge production process where youth are simultaneously contending with content, message, audience, aesthetics, design, functionality, execution, and the long-term ramifications or “digital afterlife” of their work. Through learning environments organized around critical computational literacy, young people emerge as critical problem-solvers unified by the technical know-how and the critical consciousness necessary for them to leverage digital tools for social transformation.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalEquity & Excellence in Education
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Education

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