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The How and Why of Computational thinking! A guest post by Dr. Rebecca Vivian

The Intel Education Team were blown away at a recent conference by Dr. Rebecca Vivian’s wisdom and practical knowledge aimed at bringing computing and computational thinking to the forefront of every teacher’s agenda! As such we have invited her to write a guest blog post, answering the why and providing some tips on the how!

Thanks Rebecca we are honoured to post your inspiring yet down to earth words! Dr. Rebecca Vivian is a Research Associate at The University of Adelaide. Rebecca is a Postdoctoral Researcher with Computer Science and Education Research Group, a team that has also released a free open online course that provides teachers with the tools, confidence and security to succeed!

Why Computing?

Digital technologies are increasingly becoming important in our everyday lives and many careers today involve some form of technology – from medicine, to business, education, fashion, economics and many others. Simply viewing the Careers with Code guide, one can see the vast variety and applications of Computing and Engineering-related careers, as well as the application of coding across a number of disciplines. However, it is known that Australia struggles to attract Australian students to consider Computing pathways, particularly females.

Computing in the Classroom?

To engage children in STEM, we need to start in the very first years of school and by designing educational environments that engage children in STEM activities. Computing is not an isolated discipline, rather it is about using Computational Thinking and technology to solve problems. Computing lends itself extremely well to other subject areas, particularly literacy and mathematics, and moreover allows for fundamental skill development in these areas. This opens wonderful opportunities for integrated learning opportunities.

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A Global Movement – Jump On-Board!

There is a recognised need to engage children early and equip future generations with modern knowledge and skills. There is currently a global movement to have Computing curricula included in pre-tertiary schooling contexts. Also, number of initiatives have launched to increase youth awareness and engagement in Computing, such as the Hour of Code; Made With Code for young females; and Code Club opportunities, such as those offered by Code Clubs and Google’s CS First Club.

Where to Start?

At the Computer Science Education Research (CSER) Group at the University of Adelaide, we are so excited that Australia is embracing the inclusion of computing in schools with the new Australian Curriculum: Technologies. To help Australian teachers to implement the new subject area, we partnered with Google and Digital Careers, to develop free open, online courses for teachers. We have a Fundamentals course for Foundation to Year 6 and a “Next Steps” course for Years 7 and 8, that guide teachers through the process of implementing classroom projects, including Makerspace, Robotics, Apps, Games and Data Visualisation.

We know that teachers have the knowledge, passion and expertise to bring ideas to life in the classroom. Our approach was to provide the scaffolding and fundamental concepts and to empower teachers to build an open community of resources by inviting teachers to share lesson ideas, resources or experiences. As a result, we have a community just brimming with thousands of Digital Technologies education resources! To get started and join the community conversation, simply visit our website.

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Ignite a Generation of Makers and Creators!

It is okay not to know all the answers! Computer Science is about solving problems. The fun part is finding challenging problems, creating and testing solutions and pursuing interesting ideas! The most important part is providing classroom opportunities where both teachers and students can learn and create solutions together.

Thanks for this awesome contribution Rebecca, I think our readers now have a better idea of the why and the how to incorporate computing and computational thinking in my classroom! I am sure many of our readers are all set to start the CSER course!