Beyond Computational Thinking: Coding, Designing, and Making in the 21st Century
Prof. Yasmin B. Kafai
Chair, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division
Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania, The United States
We are witnessing a remarkable comeback of computer programming in schools. While computers seem to be accessible everywhere, particularly outside school, where children and youth are connecting to wider networks of other young users, their capacity to wield such devices critically, creatively, and selectively is decidedly less potent. Learning the language of computers introduces students to processes for not only thinking and solving problems but also for making meaningful connections and crafting new STEM identities. Computational participation and making moves beyond the individual in thinking to focus on wider social networks and a DIY culture of digital "making." I describe contemporary examples in which computational thinking moves beyond stationary screens to programmable toys, tools, and textiles in high school classrooms.
Yasmin B. Kafai is the Lori and Michael Milken President’s Distinguished Professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She is a researcher and co-developer of online tools and communities to promote computational participation, crafting, and creativity across K-16. Her recent book publications include “Connected Gaming: What Making Videogames Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, “Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming,” and “Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World”—all published by MIT Press. She coauthored the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan for the US Department of Education, was a contributing member to the National Research Council’s workshop series “Computational Thinking for Everyone,” and wrote a synthesis report “Under the Microscope: A Decade of Gender Equity Projects in the Sciences” for the American Association of University Women. Kafai earned a doctorate from Harvard University while working with Seymour Papert at the MIT Media Lab. She is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the International Society of Learning Sciences, and a former editor of the Journal of the Learning Sciences.
The Power behind the Power Point®
Prof. Judith Gal-Ezer
Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science
The Open University of Israel, Israel
While today it is common knowledge that we live in a digital world, and thus Digital Literacy should be introduced to all K-12 students, it is still not obvious that every student should be exposed to Computer Science (CS, some times referred to Computing or Informatics), as a distinct scientific discipline characterized by its own concepts, methods and body of knowledge.
Moreover, it is not clear to students, their parents, school principals and policy makers, what CS is. Is it IT-Information Technology? Is it just Coding? Programming? Algorithmic Thinking? Computational Thinking? The confusion is enormous and I will try to shed some light on it.
In my presentation I will address the questions "why" - why is it important that students have access to ongoing education in CS in the school system; "when" – when should we first introduce the basics of the discipline? and "what" – what aspects of the science, the science underpinning the development of the digital world, should be introduced to all students.
I will draw attention to "who" – who are the teachers certified to teach CS? What should be their education and training?
To some extent I will also touch upon the gender issue in that context.
Judith Gal-Ezer is a Professor Emerita of Computer Science at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Open University of Israel (OUI). She served as the Head of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, the Head of the Development Division and the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the OUI during 1999-2005 and 2009-2012. After several years of research on wave propagation and seismology (as part of her M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies), her research activity turned to two directions: one - the teaching of computer-integrated mathematics; the other - computer science education, which became her main area of interest.
She is the recipient of ACM SIGCSE 2007 for her "special contribution to computer science education" and the IEEE 2015 Computer Society Taylor L. Booth Education Award for her "outstanding research and its practical application in the field of computer science education". Professor Gal-Ezer chaired a professional committee in the Ministry of Education which put together the CS curriculum for Israeli high-schools. She is now a member of the Committee for elementary, middle (junior high) and high-school curriculum.Professor Gal-Ezer serves now as the Vice Chair of ACM-Europe Council, EUACM Steering Committee, the Advisory Council of CSTA (The International Computer Science Teacher Association) and on Google's Education Advisory Council.
What lies beneath? Towards the cognitive underpinnings of computational thinking
Prof. Judy Robertson
Chair, Digital Learning
Research Lead, ETLGraduate School of Education
University of Edinburgh, The United Kingdom
Computational thinking is hard. In order to teach it effectively to school-aged learners, we need to understand more about how it develops. What are the underpinning cognitive skills a child needs to be able to solve computational problems? When do these cognitive skills develop, and what is the interaction between them? In this talk, I will explore the relationship between computational thinking and executive functions, a set of mental processes which have been identified as crucial for academic success, mental health and quality of life. Insights from research in executive function can help us to teach computational thinking more effectively.
Professor Judy Robertson is Chair in Digital Learning at the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She has been developing educational technology in collaboration with children and teachers since 1997. She is a Senior Member of the ACM, and a Senior Fellow of the HEA. She is interested in computer science education and serious games for children, particularly game authoring. She is currently working on approaches to teacher education in computational thinking and data science.