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Introduction to Computing Technology: New Interactive Animated Web-Based Learning Content

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Computer-Based Games and Animations in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Frank Vahid University of California - Riverside

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Frank Vahid is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Univ. of California, Riverside. His research interests include embedded systems design, and engineering education. He is a co-founder of

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Susan Lysecky zyBooks, Inc.


Alex Daniel Edgcomb University of California - Riverside

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Alex Edgcomb finished his PhD in computer science at UC Riverside in 2014. Alex has continued working as a research specialist at UC Riverside with his PhD advisor, studying the efficacy of web-native content for STEM education. Alex also works with zyBooks, a startup that develops interactive, web-native textbooks in STEM.

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Computing technology is ubiquitous, in the form of computers, tablets, smartphones, the web, cloud computing, email, text messages, social media, and much more. Computing technology is centrally relevant in the careers and lives of increasingly more people. As a result, more universities require students to take at least one course in computing/information technology. Unfortunately, the most widely used textbooks are written as (or have bloated into) comprehensive references, focusing excessively on terms and definitions that are quickly forgotten by students after a course is over. Instead, given computing technology's central relevance, such a course should be one of the most interesting and useful at a university, being an engaging introduction that positively influences students' interactions with computing technologies. Thus, in 2015, we developed new learning material for computing technology courses, starting from scratch, and developing natively for the web. We favored meaningful understanding of the most relevant computing technologies, versus exhaustive but shallow coverage of a wider topic array. This paper highlights the first version of the learning material, including discussions of some of the key interactive web-based activities. In its first year, the material has been adopted by over 20 universities, either for a full course, or as part of a course introducing computer science or computer programming (the material is modular and thus can be combined with other materials), and feedback from instructors and students is very positive. The material is currently published as "Computing Technology for All" (

Vahid, F., & Lysecky, S., & Edgcomb, A. D. (2016, June), Introduction to Computing Technology: New Interactive Animated Web-Based Learning Content Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25465

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