Computational Thinking for Teacher Education | April 2017 | Communications of the ACM

This framework for developing pre-service teachers’ knowledge does not necessarily depend on computers or other educational technology.

Source: Computational Thinking for Teacher Education | April 2017 | Communications of the ACM


Adding Coding to the Curriculum – The New York Times

“We don’t teach music in school to make everyone a concert violinist,” says Clive Beale, director of educational development at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a nonprofit organization based near Cambridge, England that promotes computer studies in schools. “We’re not trying to make everyone a computer scientist, but what we’re saying is, ‘this is how these things work, it’s good for everyone to understand the basics of how these things work. And by the way, you might be really good at it.”’

via Adding Coding to the Curriculum – The New York Times.

Closing the computer science gender gap: how one woman is making a difference in many lives

Maria Klawe has written an interesting and insightful article on the issue in The Conversation recently. Here’s the essence…

I’ve been working on this issue for decades. When I came to Harvey Mudd College in 2006, the CS department was averaging only about 10% women majors. The faculty had decided to make significant changes to attract more women.

They redesigned their introductory computer science courses to focus less on straight programming and more on creative problem-solving. They included topics to show the breadth of the field and the ways in which it could benefit society.

In order to reduce the intimidation factor for women and other students with no prior coding experience, they split the course into two sections, black and gold (Harvey Mudd’s colors), with black for those who had prior programming experience and gold for those with no prior experience.

This worked wonders to create a supportive atmosphere. […]
Within four years, we went from averaging around 10% women majors to averaging 40%. We have continued to average 40% since 2011.

via Closing the computer science gender gap: how one woman is making a difference in many lives.

Coding across the curriculum

Last Wednesday the PM likened teaching kids coding to child labour, but shortly after he reassured us that the government is already implementing this (coding across the curriculum, that is, not child labour).

While we can safely leave it to the politicians to comment on this pointless flip-flopping, it is worthwhile to reflect on the reasons how such an argument can even arise….

Who would object to introducing kids in primary school to structured, logical reasoning? Not even the PM, I suspect. And this is exactly what we are advocating: to introduce them to Computational Thinking, a conceptual framework for structured problem solving that is on par with mathematics as a discipline of rational thought.

Calling this “coding” doesn’t help our case.

What does the term “coding” evoke for many? Pale hackers slaving away in sunlight deprived cubicles. Arguably that is exactly the picture Tony Abbott has in mind.

We have no one but ourselves to blame for this terminology.

Sometimes history seems to repeat itself: In the 90s the formula “computing=multimedia and the web” briefly gave IT an enormous boost in popularity, but in the long run it all but killed its credentials. The PM’s statement can at least serve as a warning that riding the currently fashionable “everybody needs to learn coding” wave may take us in a similar direction.

Coding is only one aspect of Computational Thinking, and just like advanced mathematics it may not be for everyone. But children need to be introduced to all the mental frameworks that can help them to understand the real world and to tackle its problems. Computational Thinking is a very powerful and fundamental method in this arsenal. Introducing kids to it as early as possible will empower the next generation to cope with many challenges far beyond coding.

If you missed the original event, one of the many newspaper articles can be found here in the SMH.