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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
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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, FutureLearn and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society is developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Program that combines academics expertise and real-world examples from politics, economics, sociology and other areas 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.

… if you are student oR young professional

Visit the digital education platform FutureLearn and start improving your computational social science skills right away. You will find a comprehensive course combining course videos, interactive exercises, article steps and quizzes. A link to the complete interactive course 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. All course materials will be available by the end of 2021. 

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 before May. If you’d like to be notified about this drop us a line!

actiss[at]is.uw.edu.pl

 


Every module will include up to 10 short video lectures


The main terms are explained using stories and real-life examples


We show social dynamics by using simple animations and other visuals

The course

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.

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 peak 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.  

ACTiSS course program will:

– consist of an introductory module and 4 thematic modules that can be used independently
– be equivalent of a 2 ECTS points course (60 hours of workload)
– not require prior knowledge of any advanced mathematics nor any programming skills. E.g.students will be able to learn some basic concepts and tools of Social Network Analysis without learning mathematical graph theory first
– be published on the digital education platform FutureLearn

 

The course and all teaching materials are under preparation and are expected to be published in two rounds, one by May 2021 and the second one by December 2021. Some materials will be available sooner, so we encourage you to visit our site and/or contact us so that we can let you know when the materials are ready. Below you can find the list of course modules with a prototypical set of materials that will be available for each course.

Introductory module

Understanding social dynamics 

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

 

Module

Are we doomed to destroy our planet? 

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

Module

Choices and decisions everywhere

How can cognitive and behavioural 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. 

Module

The netwoks 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.

Module details

Are we doomed to destroy our planet?

This is a 4-week course, in which we want to provide the audience with a better understanding of the mechanisms that underly common action and the public goods problem. Here, we provide a very gentle introduction to game theory tools and ABM modeling.

Course videos

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

Curriclulum (PDF)

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. Coming soon!

Guideline for teachers (PDF)

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 (PDF)

This is a collection of online and offline exercises, as well as several exemplary assignments on the main concepts presented in this module. Coming soon!

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

The partners

In cooperation with the digital education platform FutureLearn