From Rechnerkunde to Digitalkunde
Talks on K-12 Computing Education Philosophy

October 5 to 7, 2022, Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum, Paderborn, Germany

In October 2022, exactly 50 years after the Paderborn workshop on "Rechnerkunde", we invite you to a conference that focuses on the possibilities and challenges of covering the digital world in the classroom from a computing education perspective.

Today’s students live in a world filled with digital artifacts. In the past decades, there have been numerous interdisciplinary approaches targeting the changes digitalisation brought with it as part of general education. However, for a variety of reasons, most of these approaches have not fulfilled the expectations put into them. Computing or computer science as a compulsory subject, however, at least in its current form, is not capable of meeting the demands of “Bildung”. The school subject is far too much focusing the architecture of computer systems and only marginally addresses their individual and socio-cultural relevance, i.e., their impacts and implications. There appears to be a gap between computing on the one hand, and the digital world on the other hand. Educational theories, which call for participation, (co-)construction and personality developing (especially emancipation) within the increasingly digitalized and interconnected world, implicitly express a need to close this gap.

Even though the digital world – and with it the discipline of computing – has changed fundamentally withing the past 50 years, its steady increase of relevance for everyday life, we consider it is still necessary to ask the same, very basic questions the pioneer scientists were addressing 50 years ago. We therefore want to provide an opportunity that initiates a scientific discourse on the nature of computing education, i.e., which contents, values and aims need to be learned in today’s classroom.

The Background:

From October 5th to 7th 1972, educational scientists gathered in Paderborn to attend a workshop on "Rechnerkunde: Algorithms and Data Processing Structures as a School Subject". They discussed how computing could be addressed in general schools. Education reforms for secondary schools at the time had opened an opportunity to establish a new elective subject. A subject called “Rechnerkunde” (roughly “becoming knowledgeable in the subject of computers”) was proposed. Even though, in practise, it had been very much focused on basic architectural aspects of computers, it was envisioned to include not only concrete knowledge about universal calculating machines but also its scientific-theoretical and cultural embeddings.

Following this idea, today asking similar questions still seems necessary. In October 2022, exactly 50 years after the workshop on Rechnerkunde, we therefore would like to invite you to the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn, the world’s largest computer museum, to take the first steps towards Digitalkunde.