CxD Approach

Technical agility, collaborative know-how, and constant curiosity are required traits to influence the modern world. We believe that K-12 learning (and doing) should reflect practices in industry, where deep collaboration and problem solving produce concepts that leverage the power of computing in a thoughtful way.

Three Threads of an Innovator's Work

Student preparation for modern participation should include the following elements. Notice the consistency with a professional's ongoing activities.

  1. Technical Skill - Students must develop a particular skillset that provides value to teams. While students will engage three domains -- programming, data/business analysis, and design -- we advocate building a deeper expertise in at least one of the three domains. Continuous improvement of skills is a life-long pursuit.

  2. Collaboration Skills - Students must learn to contribute to solutions in teams. An individual's technical capacity can flourish or flail depending on team dynamics. Supporting authentic collaboration at schools is a focus of the Computing by Design framework.

  3. Broad Domain Awareness - Students must maintain a clear awareness of careers and technological trends in order to identify opportunities and interests in a changing world. We encourage students to create reports on trends and careers in technology, as well as getting first-hand exposure to professionals through in-class visitors and field trips to industry.

Computing by Design (CxD) is a framework for project-based learning, providing student teams direction and support for solving problems in a particular context. Each project complements parallel activities for students to build technical expertise and explore related technical trends.

CxD projects allow students to engage technological development using an interdisciplinary perspective. Students develop skills and envision their unique voice in producing novel solutions, whether through code, data, or interaction design. Each project directs students to consider the larger context of development, thoughtfully creating systems that meet valued goals.

What Else is Different About This?

This is is not learning from a textbook. While we strongly encourage that students complete tutorials, and eventually full courses, in a particular skill area to build expertise, these projects will challenge students in the following ways:

  • Self Learning - Students will often have to search out information on their own, experiment, make mistakes, and try again.

  • Managing Ambiguity - Since students will be creating a unique solution, they will not be given a detailed recipe on how to complete many tasks. They will often evaluate the context of problems quickly and decide on a plan of action that makes sense.

  • Collaborating - Students will have to be productive team members, fulfilling unique roles, communicating clearly, and valuing each team member's views at decision points.

  • Presentation - Students will often present work to the class, informally and formally, to get feedback and share ideas with other teams.


Students will get first-hand experience in informatics and computing that reveal opportunities in the field and engage a more realistic process that exposes the interdisciplinary nature of industry. Each student will begin to develop his or her unique voice in technology and see the potential for influencing the world. Also, students will prepare for the realities of working in the digital economy and build skills in the areas less susceptible to automation. They will...

  • Build hard skills in the digital arts, programming, and data.

  • Collaborate with a team where tech skills, people skills, and design skills overlap.

  • Increase their intuition, confidence, and curiosity; solving problems using a patterns common with scientific thinking, design thinking, and critical thinking.


Interested in learning more? Are you ready to start or join a project collaboration and offer your insight and passion to improve learning experiences for students? Begin by contacting Vicki Daugherty.

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