As we mentioned in our previous blog post “What’s Ahead for EdTech in 2019”, schools will be focused on developing students’ computational thinking skills with the help of robotics and coding.
What is Computational Thinking?
Computational thinking is a problem-solving skill that focuses on critical and logical thinking. It’s about solving problems systematically, then reaching a solution that both humans and computers can understand. There are 4 components to computational thinking:
- Decomposition: breaking down a problem into smaller, simpler parts
- Pattern recognition: recognizing similarities between problems and using methods that have previously worked
- Abstraction: focusing on details that matter and ignoring the ones that do not matter
- Algorithmic thinking: creating simple steps that anyone can follow to solve a problem
Why Students Need Computational Thinking Skills
According to Moore’s Law, computing performance doubles every 18 months. Computers are being integrated into our lives at an exponential rate. Technology is being used more than ever to connect people, optimize solutions, and solve problems. Because of this, computational thinking skills are becoming a necessity in all jobs where technology is being used, such as computer programming, engineers, or even writers. For our future professionals to fully establish computational thinking skills, they must be exposed to it as early as possible in their education.
Computational Thinking and Tech in the Classroom
The most difficult part of integrating technology in the classroom is knowing whether the technology enhances the students’ learning. Schools and administrations must be careful when it comes to purchasing technology because the wrong decision may leave them with simply a tech-rich classroom that does not support the curricula.
To assist in purchasing decisions, schools may utilize the PIC-RAT matrix shown above. There are two questions that should be asked before using technology in the classroom:
- What is the students’ relationship to the technology? (PIC: Passive, Interactive, Creative)
- How is the teacher’s use of technology influencing traditional practice? (RAT: Replace, Amplify, Transform)
Effective technology use in the classroom may fall anywhere on the matrix, but this tool is meant to encourage teachers to reflect on their practice and consider using technology that fulfills the top-right corner of the matrix. Ultimately, schools should strive to purchase technology that would guide students to the creative and transformative ends of the matrix.
Can you think of any products that could fall under the creative and transformative square on the matrix? Share some ideas in the comments below.