Computational Thinking – is it confined to computing?
It’s the latest buzz word – Computational Thinking. What do you think of when you hear it? A quick search of the Australian Curriculum puts it squarely in the Technology learning area, specifically that of digital technology, but is that where it sits? Can it be found in other areas? Is it not just a way of thinking?
To help me understand Computation Thinking (CT) I have signed up to the Computation Thinking for Educators course offered by Google. I am wandering through the course in an illogical manner (oops logic seems to be a key component of CT), which is what I tend to do when I can click on anything and go anywhere – maybe some CT needs to be used to address a solution for this, but that would suggest that it is a problem.
I have now moved completely off task (well out of the Google course) and read a post that came via my way the other week just as the first course offered by Google concluded (yes I signed up for that but got distracted…hm…there is a pattern developing here). It was by Dave Stacey in the UK. He posted his first response to the two required pieces of work needed to gain a certificate. You can find his blog post here. What I liked about his post was that he highlighted another company offering support in understanding CT for the classroom with a primary focus. Barefoot is their name. If you want access to their resources you need to sign up, but it is free. I quite like the way they have gone about explaining the different concepts in CT giving practical application to a range of learning areas. For example looking for patterns:
As I think about the different aspects that make up CT, one thing jumps out at me and that is the use of language. Breaking down the potential barrier of not understanding CT is linked to language and understanding what it means. To do this using the concepts in a range of areas is worth thinking about. For example, when learning rules the patterns allow one to understand why they are there. This can be applied to many learning areas. Yes, we attach CT to computing, but thinking is inherently human. The computer is just a tool.
So getting back to the course at hand…
Logic – will I complete the course?
Algorithms – it might be useful to make some steps and rules to ensure I do complete the course…
Decomposition – I need to break down CT into the concepts to understand it, I need to see how it applies to life, how it connects across disciplines.
Patterns – are there any, well yes I get distracted and have now had to reschedule my massage (think I might have been in a flow state)
Abstraction – what do I need to remove to ensure I get this done or ensure I get to my next massage (really this boils down to setting a reminder on my phone – and before you ask, yes it was in my calendar)
Evaluation – did it work? I will know on Monday if I get to my massage, completing the course is another thing 😉