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Positions

4 PhD fellowships in the field of Computational Empowerment for Emerging Technologies in Education


The Center for Computational Thinking and Design, and the Dept. for Digital Design and Information Studies, and Dept. of Computer Science at Aarhus University invites applications for 4 fully funded interdisciplinary PhD scholarships in Computational Empowerment for Emerging Technologies in Education. The PhD scholarships begin 1. February 2020 to 31. January 2023.


The PhD Positions
Computational Empowerment is an emerging field of research that focuses on how citizens and especially children and adolescents, with a deeper understanding of technology and computation, can engage actively in the design, construction and use of digital technology to support their personal agency in a digitalized society. We are interested in learning activities that include design, computational thinking, digital making, toolkits for emerging technologies, critical reflection, understanding people’s contexts and the societal impact of digital technology as contributing to computational empowerment. The candidates will build on participatory design research, social research, computer science and learning sciences approaches and conduct experimental design research in Danish secondary schools to develop a framework and toolkits for computational empowerment for emerging technologies in education.
   
The Research Project: Computational Empowerment for Emerging Technologies in Education (CEED)
CEED is a 4-year research project exploring and building new practices of computational empowerment for emerging technologies in Danish secondary education. CEED addresses the core question: How do we empower coming generations to understand the complexity and impact of digital technology and become co-creators of our future digitalised society? While new technologies are rapidly transforming our everyday lives, investment in educating children about their impact and potentials has just begun, prioritizing a focus on coding skills and computational thinking over quality of life, agency and democracy. Based on ten years of research into digital design and making in education, CEED will address the next societal and educational challenge - of emerging technologies (IoT and AI/ML) - and their role in the digitalisation of society. CEED extends the current focus on computational thinking in education through a design-oriented approach that brings together humanistic, participatory and technical perspectives to develop a theoretical, technical and methodological framework for Computational Empowerment. The framework is developed through an integrated focus on ‘digital design literacy’, technological materials and toolkits, and human-centred principles for learning and designing with emerging technologies in secondary education. In this way, the research will contribute to developing sustainable best-practices at local and national level, while contributing to state-of-the-art in a global research community.    
 
In the CEED project, we suggest that humanistic, participatory and technical approaches come together in engaging with, computational empowerment as an alternative agenda, focusing on how children can build their understanding of emerging technologies and their agency in a digitized world. The project brings together researchers from the humanities and computer science in addressing the following research questions:

  • How can we provide computational empowerment to learning and designing with emerging technologies in secondary education?
  • How can we support the development of practices, tools and infrastructures for computational empowerment for students and teachers in secondary education?
  • How do we develop sustainable and long-term impact across educational contexts?

Such research agendas will contribute to current state-of-the-art with an integrated humanistic and technical approach and framework for understanding, exploring and designing with emerging technologies as part of students’ educational practices. Through the specific focus on Computational Empowerment the project will develop and mature a distinctly Scandinavian and design-oriented approach to technology in education that can benefit Danish as well as international research and development. 
 
Sub-projects
The CEED project is structured in four complementary sub-projects that will work across humanistic and technical research field to produce a framework for computational empowerment for emerging technologies in secondary education. Interested candidates should target one research project for either the Institute of Communication and Culture (CC) or Computer Science (CS).


P1: Principles for Designing and Learning with Emerging Technologies (CC)

This project explores how to understand and approach emerging technologies from a human-centred perspective that enable children and educators to actively engage with these in secondary education. It addresses the need for understanding both the computational premises and qualities for AI and IoT and their integral relation to everyday and automated decision-making, personal and societal impact. The project will develop a set of human-centred principles for learning and designing with emerging technologies that cover all stages of an iterative design process. The ideal candidate has a background in social research on emerging technologies, design anthropology, techno-anthropology, participatory design, Science and Technology Studies, or related fields with the ability to conduct ethnographic research and design-based research.
 
Research questions:

  • What are human-centred and design-based perspectives and understandings of emerging technologies? 
  • How can we develop principles for designing and learning with emerging technologies?
  • How do we develop learning processes and tools that support a mindsets of students and teachers towards being co-designers of a digitalised future?

Read more about the application process and apply here: 
CEED-PHD1: Principles for Designing and Learning with Emerging Technologies 

  
P2: Taxonomy and Conceptual Design of Emerging Technologies for Children (CS)

This project contributes to computational empowerment through making emerging technologies understandable, recognizable, explorable and manipulable for children. This happens through developing a taxonomy of and toolkits for emerging technologies in terms of how they can be part of children's learning and design processes. Based on a research through design process, the project also contributes conceptual design of specific emerging technologies including Machine learning and IoT. The ideal candidate has a background in computer science, human computer interaction, child computer interaction and is capable of constructing IT-based prototype toolkits in one or more of the areas of Machine learning and IoT. In addition the candidate has experience with intervention-based research and has an interest or experience in the area of computational thinking or empowerment. 
 
Research questions:

  • How do emerging technologies provide new challenges and opportunities for computational empowerment?
  • How can we conceptualise emerging technologies such that they become understandable, recognizable, explorable, and manipulable for children?

Read more about the application process and apply here:
CEED-PHD2: Taxonomy and Conceptual Design of Emerging Technologies for Children 

  
P3: Design Principles for Tools for Digital Fabrication with Emerging Technologies (CS)

This project investigates how we can bring emerging technologies such as AI or IoT into the hands of children for them to explore, learn and contribute to shaping possible futures as well as critically reflect upon the impact of these technologies on their current everyday lives. Based on a research through design approach, where prototype toolkits are designed and evaluated, the project contributes design principles for tools for digital fabrication with emerging technologies. The ideal candidate has a background in computer science, human computer interaction or child computer interaction and is capable of constructing IT-based prototype toolkits in one or more of the areas of Machine learning and IoT. In addition the candidate has experience with intervention-based research and has an interest or experience in the area of computational thinking or empowerment.
 
Research questions

  • How can we design tools that allow children to do digital fabrication with emerging technologies?
  • How can such tools be integrated into processes of learning and construction?

Read more about the application process and apply here:
CEED-PHD3: Design Principles for Tools for Digital Fabrication with Emerging Technologies 


P4: Qualities and Criteria for Evaluating Digital Design Literacy in Education (CC

This project develops a qualitative understanding of the state-of-the-actual in terms of students’ use, experiences and understandings of everyday digital technologies and their ability to deploy more advanced technologies as a means to proactively engage in the design of digital artifacts. The project will produce a taxonomy for students digital design literacy both in relation to understanding existing digital technologies and engaging in the design of future digital technologies, and deliver a conceptual model for educators to evaluate students digital literacy literacy as part of curriculum based education. The ideal candidate has a background in digital design, child-computer interaction, participatory design, design research in the area of emerging technologies, with the ability to conduct empirical and intervention-based research.
 
Research questions: 

  • Which competencies supports children’s ’digital design literacy’?
  • What are the evaluation criteria that applies to digital design literacy with emerging technologies?
  • How is digital design literacy supported in a progressive development through educational levels? 

Read more about the application process and apply here:
CEED-PHD4: Qualities and Criteria for Evaluating Digital Design Literacy in Education


Application

Deadline for applications: 1 November 2019 at noon (11:59 AM CET).
Applications should be submitted via Graduate School of Science and Technology (see under Computer Science): http://phd.scitech.au.dk/for-applicants/apply-here/
During the assessments, Aarhus University will conduct interviews with selected applicants.

Language
The application must be submitted in English. It will be considered an advantage if the applicant can understand Danish in written and oral form. It will be expected that international candidates will learn Danish within the first year of their employment.

Research Environment
The Center for Computational Thinking and Design (CCTD) is a new interdisciplinary center at Aarhus University. The center has the School of Communication and Culture, the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Management as the primary actors. The vision for the center is to further develop the research and educational perspectives on basic IT competencies - the “21st century learning skills”. This work is ongoing, and focuses on all levels of education in Denmark, from primary education to university level curriculum. The work calls for new perspectives on IT education within programming, digital fabrication, digital innovation, design studies, digital methodology amongst others. The center works with these perspectives across educational contexts within the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences. Read more at http://cctd.au.dk/about-cctd/

The Department of Digital Design and Information Studies is one of the strongest academic IT environments in Europe and attracts visiting scholars and PhD students from all over the world. The department focuses on information technology as a feature of people’s everyday lives and futures. As a result, we have a strong connection between theory and practice and play a role in a great number of national and international collaborations. Read more at http://cc.au.dk/en/ddinf

The Department of Computer Science has 125 employees with a great mix of nationalities, and 600 BSc and Msc students on the programs Computer Science and IT Product Development. The department is strong in both theoretical and experimental computer science. In recent years, we have seen close cooperation between different research groups – even those that traditionally are perceived as being far from each other. As we emphasize multidisciplinary attitudes to research, no firm dividing lines are drawn between the various strands of subjects, and there is a lively interaction between all research areas. Problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approaches characterize our research. Read more at http://cs.au.dk/

CEED is a highly collaborative and cross-disciplinary research project. PhD candidates are expected to form and drive a core basis of the projects’ activities. Participation in the daily life of the departments is a high priority, and we emphasise the importance of good working relationships, both among colleagues, students, external and international partners.

 

 

Apply for CEED fellowship

Deadline for applications: 1 November 2019 at noon (11:59 AM CET).

Read more about the application process and apply for the individual positions here:

Applications should be submitted via Graduate School of Science and Technology (see under Computer Science): http://phd.scitech.au.dk/for-applicants/apply-here/

During the assessments, Aarhus University will conduct interviews with selected applicants

Contact

Ole Sejer Iversen

Professor School of Communication and Culture - Information Science

Marianne Graves Petersen

Associate professor Department of Computer Science

Rachel Charlotte Smith

Associate professor School of Communication and Culture - Information Science