(1) Essential concepts of CT:
The essence of Computational Thinking (CT) lies in the creation of “logical artifacts” that externalize and reify human ideas in a form that can be interpreted and “run” on computers. Although Papert had already used the term “Computational Thinking” (CT) ten years earlier, the current discussion of CT can be traced back to Wing (2006). Wing characterized CT by stating that it “involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science”. This involves representing information in the form of data structures as well as techniques for the specification of algorithms for data processing and analysis. It is a problem of the current educationally oriented discussion of CT that the specific meaning of some of the underlying concepts (esp. "abstraction") differs substantially from the common sense understanding. A better understanding of these specificities will be promoted through examples in this introductory module.
(2) Curricular/pedagogical relevance of CT:
Beyond its direct relevance as an essential prerequisite for professions in information technology and computational systems, computational thinking (CT) has influenced scientific methods and models and thuss our way of thinking and reasoning in general. Based on this perception, Wing (2008) asks: "If computational thinking is added to the repertoire of thinking abilities, then how and when should people learn this kind of thinking and how and when should we teach it?" Adequate answers to this bundle of questions have to be contextualized in and harmonized with general pedagogical theories of curriculum and lines of argumentation to justify educational content. This relation to pedagogy and curriculum theory will be explored in this part of the tutorial.
H. Ulrich Hoppe, University Duisburg-Essen (Germany)
(3) Role of Unplugged Activities in CT Education
"Unplugged" activities have been effective at engaging people of all ages in playful explorations of the big ideas in computer science through story-based problems, games, puzzles, and role play. Can activities that don't use computers develop computational thinking? To what extent? How do we know? In part 3 of the tutorial, attendees will participate in unplugged activities, followed by a discussion exploring the tension between the open, inquiry nature of the original CS Unplugged activities for informal learning / outreach / enrichment, and the needs of a formal curriculum to assess students according to learning objectives.
C.-K. Looi, National Institute of Education Singapore
(4) Synergistic learning of CT and STEM
Synergistic learning of computational thinking (CT) and STEM has proven to be an effective method for advancing learning and understanding in a number of STEM domains, and, at the same time, disseminating and enhancing CT education. This tutorial will discuss our approach to designing and developing a Collaborative, Computational STEM (C2STEM) learning environment. This system is based on a novel computational paradigm, which combines visual modeling with a domain specific modeling language (DSML) to promote a synergistic learning of a number of science topics that include physics, earth sciences, and marine biology, along with CT concepts and practices. After a short introduction to the system and design approach, we will conduct a hands on tutorial with the C2STEM system.
G. Biswas, Vanderbilt University (USA)