Computational Participation and the Learner‐Technology Pairing in K‐12 STEM Education

Date of this Version

September 2020

Document Type



The role of technology in STEM education remains unclear and needs stronger operational definition. In this paper, we explore the theoretical connection between STEM and emergent technologies, with a focus on learner behaviors and the potential of technology‐mediated experiences with computational participation (CP) in shaping STEM learning. In particular, by de‐emphasizing what technology is used and bringing renewed focus to how the technology is used, we make a case for CP as an epistemological and pedagogical approach that promotes collaborative STEM practices. Utilizing Ihde's work as a conceptual framework, we explore how technology‐mediated relations shape STEM learner experiences and behaviors by empowering learners to develop scientific knowledge through collaborative participation and interactive relationships with technology. In particular, we focus on technology mediated game‐based learning and citizen science, and examine how CP creates opportunities for STEM learners to leverage learning with technology in innovative ways. We argue that through computational and collaborative learning experiences, learners participate as members of STEM learning communities in ways that mirror how STEM professionals collaborate, applying interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to complex real‐world problems. Computational participation consequently creates opportunities for learner‐technology pairings to (re)shape STEM learning behaviors, empowering learners to engage collaboratively as members of a STEM community of practice.