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An interactive open online course on computational social science

Find out more about the project and explore the course and its modules

About the project

With an increasingly turbulent society, the demand for social scientists who are capable of analysing behavioural dynamics using computational methods is rising. ACTiSS – Action for Computational Thinking in Social Sciences is an educational project aimed at fostering the development of computational thinking among social science students and young professionals. The University of Warsaw together with the University of Groningen and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society is developing a program of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that combines academics expertise and real-world examples in which computational models are used to analyse societal processes. The project aims to promote students’ computational skills and reduce barriers to computational thinking. All digital training and teaching materials will be freely available to learners and teachers. Visit the digital education platform FutureLearn and start improving your computational social science skills right away. You will find a couple of short comprehensive course modules combining short videos, interactive exercises, article steps and quizzes. Our first two modules are already there:

People, Networks and Neighbors: understanding social dynamics

Social Network Analysis: The networks connecting people

Links to all interactive courses will be available by the end of 2021.

… if you teach social sciences at university

This website is for you! We are working on a collection of teaching materials, the curriculum and special guidelines that we are preparing based on years of our own experience in teaching computational social science to students in Warsaw and Groningen. We encourage you to use those materials (videos, exercises, texts, quizzes) during your own courses. Some materials are already available (below) and all course materials will be available by the end of 2021. If you’d like to be notified about this or if you have any questions related to the materials, please let us know, we will be happy to help!

Keyfacts

5 modules

15 weeks

4 educational content types

All course materials will be available by the end of 2021. The first part will be published this summer. If you’d like to be notified about this drop us a line!

actiss[at]is.uw.edu.pl


We show social dynamics by using simple animations and other visuals

The course

In order to make it easier for the learners to explore how computational approach works, we developed a set of simple models and simulations. Below you can find NetLogo models that you can use, either for learning, or for teaching. You can just click on the models and experiment with them right away, but it’s best to use them together with course materials for a certain course. In the course materials (above) you will find more information about the models, introductory texts, exercises and discussion questions related to the models.

We’d like to share some materials that you are free to use in your own teaching. It’s going to be a series of short modules that gives “a peek over the fence” built of fears, stereotypes and lack of practice.  We supplement these materials with some practical guidelines, where we’ve gathered some tips and tricks on how to bring computational topics into the classroom.  

Course Details

1 introductory module and 4 thematic modules that can be used independently

Equivalent of a 2 ECTS points course (60 hours of workload)

No prior knowledge of advanced mathematics or programming skills required

To be published on the digital education platform FutureLearn

Modules Overview

Introductory module

People, Networks and Neighbours: understanding social dynamics

What is computational social science and which phenomena does is allow to study?

Visit on FutureLearn

 

 

Module

Social Network Analysis: The networks connecting people

How do we spread disease, fake news and good ideas? We will present an overview of networks and how they relate to social dynamics.

Visit on FutureLearn 

Module

Common Problems with Common Goods: The Mechanisms behind Sharing and Cooperating?

How can  game theory help learners to understand resource use, social dilemmas or public-good dilemmas? 

Module

Choices and decisions everywhere 

How an cognitive and behavioral processes be modelled using the precise language of mathematical formulae and algorithms?

Module

Divided in similarity 

Why is ghettoisation inevitable? This will be explained by introducing spatial models with special emphasis on cellular automata. 

People, networks and neighbours: understanding social dynamics

Course details

This 3-week course will help you understand why social processes seem so unpredictable and understand better the basics of social dynamics. It’s designed to show you a new interesting way of approaching questions about social behaviour. Throughout, you’ll focus on social mechanisms and will explore how models and simulations can help to understand those mechanisms. Visit the course on FutureLearn.  

Course videos

Here you will find 11 videos with lectures, real-life examples and expert interviews, explaining the main concepts of the course. 

View our videos on YouTube

 

Curriculum

In the course plan, you can find the sequence of steps for each week and more information on the learning objectives, main topics, models and exercises, as well as the storylines that we use to explain the main concepts. View curriculum 

Guideline for teachers

In the guideline for teachers, we share our own experience of teaching game theory and ABM modeling to social science students. Here you will find some tips and tricks as well as additional teaching materials. Coming soon!

Exercises

This is a collection of online and offline exercises, as well as several exemplary assignments on the main concepts presented in this module. View materials for Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3.

social network analysis: the networks connecting people 

Course details

Have you ever wondered how a tiny virus can spread across the planet, how people share false information through social media, or why people abide by group norms, even when they are harmful? This 3 week course from computational social science experts at University College Groningen and the University of Warsaw explores how networks form, and how they impact the spreading of different types of information in society.

Course videos

Here you will find 9 videos with lectures, real-life examples and expert interviews, explaining the main concepts of the course. 

View our videos on YouTube

 

Curriclulum

In the course plan, you can find the sequence of steps for each week and more information on the learning objectives, main topics, models and exercises, as well as the storylines that we use to explain the main concepts. View curriculum

Guideline for teachers

In the guideline for teachers, we share our own experience of teaching game theory and ABM modeling to social science students. Here you will find some tips and tricks as well as additional teaching materials. Coming soon!

Exercises

This is a collection of online and offline exercises, as well as several exemplary assignments on the main concepts presented in this module. View materials for Week 1 , Week 2 and Week 3.

Netlogo models

We are creating this MOOC for learners of social sciences who often experience high levels of anxiety when it comes to mathematics, computers, formal modelling and have no knowledge of advanced algebra, mathematical analysis or programming. Throughout our years of experience in teaching computational methods to social science students in the University of Warsaw and Groningen, we developed a number of didactical approaches that help us to familiarize students with computational methods. And from our own experience, we can say: these methods are accessible, especially if approached from the story side rather than from the mathematical formula side.  Now, in cooperation with Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and its expertise on current trends in online education and promoting new ideas, we are preparing materials that will be available for all those interested in learning or teaching computational models at introductory level.

To see all ACTISS NetLogo models click here

 

About Netlogo

NetLogo is a multi-agent programmable modeling environment. It is used by many hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and researchers worldwide.

It also powers HubNet participatory simulations. It is authored by Uri Wilensky and developed at the Northwestern’s Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling (CCL).

Model 10

SNA: The networks connecting people

Small worlds

Model 9

SNA: The networks connecting people

Three products

Model 8

SNA: The network connecting people

Endorsement

Model 7

SNA: The networks connecting people

Information and norms in the tribe

Model 6

SNA: The networks connecting people

Virus in the tribe with connectivity hubs

Model 5

SNA: The networks connecting people

Virus in the tribe with hubs

Model 4

SNA: The networks connecting people

Virus in the tribe

Model 3

Introductory module

Protest: Initiators and threshold level

Model 2

Introductory module

Protesters threshold

Model 1

Introductory module

Protest initiators

The team

Agata Komendant-Brodowska

Agata Komendant-Brodowska

Team Leader and Lecturer

University of Warsaw

   

Anna Baczko-Dombi

Anna Baczko-Dombi

Lecturer

University of Warsaw

   

 

Katarzyna Abramczuk

Katarzyna Abramczuk

Lecturer

University of Warsaw

  

Wander Jager

Wander Jager

lecturer

University of Groningen

     

Tom Spits

Tom Spits

Online learning design specialist

University of Groningen

   

Tracy Poelzer

Tracy Poelzer

Education specialist, trainer

University of Groningen

Nataliia Sokolovska

Nataliia Sokolovska

Technical manager, editor

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin

   

Franzi Cagic

Franzi Cagic

Video Production, Editing and Animation

Berlin

 

Manvi Agrawal

Manvi Agrawal

Netlogo Model engineer

University of Groningen

    

Gabriela Grzelak

Gabriela Grzelak

NetLogo model engineer, project assistant

University of Warsaw

Shaoni Wang

Shaoni Wang

NetLogo model engineer

University of Groningen

 

Esther Arrindell

Esther Arrindell

Educational Advisor

University of Groningen

 

The partners

In cooperation with the digital education platform FutureLearn