Connected Code

From The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning

Connected Code

Why Children Need to Learn Programming

By Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke

Foreword by Mitchel Resnick

Why every child needs to learn to code: the shift from “computational thinking” to computational participation.





Why every child needs to learn to code: the shift from “computational thinking” to computational participation.

Coding, once considered an arcane craft practiced by solitary techies, is now recognized by educators and theorists as a crucial skill, even a new literacy, for all children. Programming is often promoted in K-12 schools as a way to encourage “computational thinking”—which has now become the umbrella term for understanding what computer science has to contribute to reasoning and communicating in an ever-increasingly digital world.

In Connected Code, Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke argue that although computational thinking represents an excellent starting point, the broader conception of “computational participation” better captures the twenty-first-century reality. Computational participation moves beyond the individual to focus on wider social networks and a DIY culture of digital “making.”

Kafai and Burke describe contemporary examples of computational participation: students who code not for the sake of coding but to create games, stories, and animations to share; the emergence of youth programming communities; the practices and ethical challenges of remixing (rather than starting from scratch); and the move beyond stationary screens to programmable toys, tools, and textiles.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262027755 200 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 24 b&w illus.


$20.00 X ISBN: 9780262529679 200 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 24 b&w illus.


Mitchel Resnick.


  • The list of references and cross-referenced studies and material is impressive. If you are, or want to be, involved in educating children, then this book is an essential read.

    British Computer Society

  • This book is as engaging as its catchy title suggests.

    Computing Reviews

  • In their book, Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming, Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke draw from their own extensive experience teaching children to code. They argue that it is not simply enough for students to learn to code, but rather for all pupils to become computational participants in today's increasingly digital society. From this perspective, learning to program is to computational participation as writing is to literacy. Computational participation goes beyond programming to include collaboration in a maker society, just as literacy goes beyond the fundamental act of writing. In addition to advocating that everyone should learn to code, Connected Code presents the developing idea of computational participation, encouraging more productive, authentic, and creative learning through collaborative processes.

    Teachers College Record


  • In the 21st century, computer science is just as foundational a field as any. As Connected Code explores, learning to build technology—rather than merely consume it—is increasingly relevant to participation in modern society.

    Hadi Partovi


  • In Connected Code, Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke update the vision of Seymour Papert's Mindstorms for today's world of social media, maker spaces, and the ongoing 'digital divide.' The authors show how the goals of Seymour Papert and John Dewey can be realized in the context of today's technologies, while pointing out who is not yet privileged to participate in modern media. Both a history of 'code' in education and a call to action, Kafai and Burke's book shows us the best of making computing work for student learning—and where we are still falling short. I recommend it to teachers and researchers alike.

    Mark Guzdial

    Professor, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • For anyone interested in children's education and 21st-century learning, Connected Code is a must. Within these pages is a call to action: how we can assure that the transformative learning occurring in the digital 'maker' movement is brought into public schools, assuring that all students—not just the most privileged—will be involved and engaged.

    Jane Margolis

    lead author of Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing and Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing