PBS Conversations: NJIT's Michael Lee on Teaching the (Multicultural) World to Code

Written by: Tracey Regan,
Informatics professor Michael Lee discusses his strategy for expanding and diversifying the community of coders.

Michael Lee, an assistant professor of informatics who focuses on human-computer interaction, has invented a clever application to bridge the digital divide: a multi-level game called Gidget that teaches people of all ages and cultures to program by solving debugging puzzles.

Gidget icon

In a recent interview on the PBS talk show “Life & Living with Joanna Gagis,” Lee discusses his invention’s role in expanding and diversifying the computer-literate coding community.

“When we think about equity in computer science, a lot of people tend to be males or white or Asian, and so we have a lot of under-representation for many minority groups – for example, females,” Lee tells the host, Joanna Gagis. “I think a lot of these preconceived notions are detrimental to advancing STEM in the U.S.”

For individuals, he adds, coding is “a very important 21st century literacy... with computing in everything do.”

The interview aired on NJTV earlier this month and is now available online. To hear about Gidget – now used by more than 10,000 people between the ages of 5 and 72, with 42 percent of them female – watch the video below.