Unconference: Algorithmic Literacy among Young Learners

An Unconference is a more informal, participatory form of convening, where rather than a one way dissemination of information through talks and lectures, we create a shared understanding of a topic through open discussion. We used the Unconference as a means to engage with a community of researchers, and practitioners working in and around topics of algorithmic literacy. With participants from backgrounds ranging within design, computer science, sociology, education and entrepreneurship, a vast variety of topics were unpacked during our sessions.


We began with discussions on social media and children. Some of the topics from the discourse included discussions around the internet as a public digital space, questioning the corporations that own that space and how the internet materialises in the physical world. As the sessions continued, so the conversation evolved around regulation, human-like AI agents, and  misinformation in social networks.

“Who is the digital cartographer of the algorithms we must navigate?”

The second day began with a fishbowl exercise around digital citizenship. Concepts around citizenship, identity, community were explored as we pondered the value of embodied action and digital inclusion, and the role of more-than-human forms of citizenship in an increasingly digital age. We explored these alternative, more complex forms of citizenship, alongside the importance of data rights and activism, commenting on the effects of digital excess on the physical world.

As we began winding down the Unconference, we took note of the broad range of topics that fall under the umbrella of algorithmic literacy and digital citizenship. As we continue in the project, we look to focus on using participatory methods to create digital tools to improve the understanding of algorithms in civic society. This expands to exploratory and experiential learning approaches for the AI age.

As part of this project, we plan on conducting workshops in the Indian context early next year. If you’d like to collaborate or join our pilot, feel free to reach out at uttishta.varanasi[@]aalto.fi.

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