Conference Papers  |  ,   |  June 21, 2020

Decoding design agendas: an ethical design activity for middle school students

Conference paper by Daniella DiPaola, Blakeley H. Payne and Cynthia Breazeal. Presented at IDC ’20: Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference.


If we expect our children to be driving technology design agendas in the future, we must first help them recognize that opinions and beliefs are baked into the technologies that we create and that these opinions may serve some groups of people more than others. In this paper, we discuss an ethical design activity completed by 19 middle school-aged children. The activity encourages students to see technical systems as socio-technical systems, to engage them in stakeholder analysis, and to apply ethical design tools in order to redesign YouTube. Results indicate students are capable of transforming into critical users and ethical designers of technology. They are able to recognize the underlying design agendas for popular technologies such as YouTube, identify stakeholders who shape those design agendas, and apply an array of tools to reimagine technologies in a more inclusive manner.