The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
The QAA Computing Subject Benchmark (2022) recommends mapping of equitable practices and processes which acknowledge and address how divisions of labour and hierarchies of colonial value are replicated and reinforced within computing. To rethink and transform the discipline of Computing and IT this project aims to investigate UK universities which have begun to transform their curriculum along related lines by mapping the terrain of decolonial activity.
This investigation has two elements. First to conduct desk research to identify decolonising STEM and specifically computing and IT activity within UK Higher Education Institutions by looking at public facing websites for evidence and so to chart or map the terrain. The results will be presented in a case study format.
Secondly to conduct semi-structured interviews with STEM Computing and IT educators within HEI to understand decolonising activity within their discipline. The focus will be on their awareness of the topic, the challenges to start or continue with the decolonising STEM work and how they feel we can progress with this transformation of what and how we teach. Again the focus is the discipline of Computing and IT but acknowledging that this sits within STEM and so requires a flexible approach to categorisation.
Through investigation of STEM Computing and IT decolonial activity since 2020 the project aims to systematically identify, analyse and classify decolonising activity within Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s). The focus will be on the process of decolonisation rather than outcome, acknowledging that decolonising the curriculum is both complex and continuous. Empirical data will be collected and will support analysis of the context and processes involved in decolonising STEM with a focus on Computing and IT within HEIs. For example, the University of Leeds have a public facing Decolonising website with infographics and YouTube student conversations focussing on the Science curriculum from a range of Russell group universities and Leeds staff explaining decolonising work within the Environmental Science curriculum.
Semi-structured interviews with STEM peers at other HEIs will be conducted to gauge current decolonising activity, the obstacles and the direction of travel. These interviews will be undertaken remotely.
This project will aim to provide an overview of current decolonising activities within STEM at HEIs, using a qualitative case study approach to generate in-depth understanding of decolonising STEM activity at a selection of UK Universities.
The outcomes will be an overview of the emerging trends in the decolonisation of STEM at HEIs e.g. what this entails, challenges and obstacles being encountered, and will provide suggestions on how to advance decolonising the Computing and IT curriculum at the Open University. If indeed there is a best practice or benchmark against which we can drive our decolonial agenda, then we need to know what this looks likes.
QAA Computing Subject Benchmark (2022). Available at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/the-quality-code/subject-benchmark-statements/computing. (Accessed: 8 March 2023)
University of Leeds (2023). 'Decolonising the University' Available at: https://www.leeds.ac.uk/student-success/doc/decolonising-university (Accessed: 8 March 2023)
Please subscribe to the Decolonising Computing Collective JISC email to support the work of decolonising computing within higher education
Find out more about how the project team are engaging with the wider computing community at Horizons in STEM HE Conference hosted by University of Swansea, 28th and 29th June 2023. Join our workshop on Wednesday 28th at 1.3pm 'What might a decolonised computing and IT curriculum look like?'
If this is a workshop that you would like to be part of decolonising events at your University then let me know. The details can be found in the Abstract booklet on p.44. 2023 Conference Programme – Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference (ukstemconference.com)