Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking

There is a new term being banded around since the new computing curriculum was launched in September 2014.

Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking is not something I’d really heard and I’ve spent 20 years in IT. In the old curriculum children discovered how to use software but did not learn how to make it. Learning to code in primary schools is a step forward from the previous ICT curriculum.

However, learning to code is not easy (especially in the the text based scripting languages). Children today are used to instant gratification, they expect results quickly. Their expectations of what software should be able to do is very high. There is the danger of turning children off learning to code because they cannot do exciting things quickly enough.

This is where Computational Thinking plays it’s part in allowing children to think logically about the way computers can follow instructions (algorithms) and make games, quizzes, control robots, make web pages and even make apps.

I’m not a big one for digging out fancy definitions for the latest buzz words.

Having worked with thousands of children using Scratch there is a big difference in being able to start from Scratch (in Scratch) and just following instructions. It is the synapse snapping problem solving where the real learning (and fun) comes.

Breaking down a problem, discussing it, mapping it out on paper and then getting all that into a solution in Scratch is where this Computational Thinking foundation sets a platform for future skill development.

You might have a child that has “Done Scratch” what they may actually be saying is that the exercises they are given are easy and a little dry.

Give them the challenge of starting from Scratch to plan out a project that you can do together. See how they approach it. Do they dive straight in declaring “My plan is in my head!” or do they take a look for similar projects and declare “Plagiarism saves time!”. Perhaps they actually get a piece of paper out and some pens and pencils and draw out a story board or flow diagram to make sure they have considered the big picture before then tackling the individual parts.

You’ll know your kids better than anyone and you will start to find that what you call logical thinking, problem solving and incremental improvement is actually all wrapped up in this trendy new term of Computational Thinking.