Addressing the digital skills gap with computational thinking: Page 4 of 5

December 14, 2018 //By Jonathan Smith
Addressing the digital skills gap with computational thinking
It is estimated that 65 percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t currently exist. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, the skills that are needed to survive this new working economy are not currently taught in schools, with subject-based knowledge still the priority.

The process of using a basic educational ‘computer’ to create something new enables students to learn about the physical hardware, interact with software, and learn about how they can influence their environment rather than just observing. Students can work on elements that form the basis of the Internet of Things, they can connect devices and carry out meaningful analysis, and experience shows that they become genuinely enthused when they create something themselves that has a practical application in the real world.  The essential and important output of this learning is the development of computational thinking skills through the way they have approached the problem they have been tasked to solve.

Students have considered: what is the problem?  how can it be solved? and how can the solution be executed? And most importantly – what went wrong and how do I improve it?  This approach takes students away from pure computer science and moves them into the realm of real-world applications that could relate to sports technology, biology, geography, mathematics and much more.

Today there are a range of platforms and projects available that help develop computational thinking skills and develop as they progress from pre-school to post-university. A range of boards, coding environments, accessories and projects can be used to support learning, helps students build skills and develop their understanding. Educational resources are now tailored with teachers and students in mind and contain a road map that range from first steps for pre-school through to complex technical solutions for professional development.  For example, Key Stage 3 children could learn to programme with a BBC micro:bit and then apply the device in a more advanced way to program a robot as they work through secondary school.


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