Find out about coding and computational thinking – what they are, why we need to teach them and how to do this. We also briefly explore some educational applications of augmented reality.
So, what is coding and computational thinking?
Coding, in the simple terms, is telling a computer what you want it to do with step-by-step commands. Just like people have different languages, there are different computer languages.
Computational thinking is a way of problem solving, designing systems and thinking like a computer scientist (Wing, 2012) In their video below Google identify four facets of a computational thinking (CT) approach to problem solving:
- decomposition – breaking something down, figuring out the parts and how to divide a task
- pattern recognition – what is similar – can I use this to make predict what’s next
- abstraction – what are the general principles that generate these patterns?
- algorithm design – developing step by step instructions to solve similar problems
So, why teach digital technologies at school?
Our New Zealand Curriculum is changing …
Digital technology is going to be fully integrated into our NZ Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa in 2018, to support young people to “develop skills, confidence and interest in digital technologies and lead them to opportunities across the IT sector” (MOE, 2016).
The MoE is currently designing the new curriculum content for years 1-13. Content will be shaped around six themes:
- Data representation.
- Digital applications.
- Digital devices and infrastructure.
- Humans and computers.
- Programming (NZ Edgazette feature, 2016)
Recommendations from IT (Information Technology) Leaders…
Resources for teaching and learning
Below we have some resources to help you design lessons and projects which incorporate coding or computational thinking, that link to the achievement objectives, key principles and the key competencies of the NZ Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
Code Club for (NZ) Teachers is an online community for teachers who are learning to code. They have missions (coding challenges) and a discussion category for each mission.
Code Club Aotearoa for after school coding clubs run by volunteers.
Code.org has free, self-paced lessons. Teachers can create a class group, assign lessons and track progress.
Scratch is a great place to start. This free, open source computer language has code-blocks that students can drag and drop to create interactive games /activities. Scratch online accounts require an email address – you can use a personal /school email or teacher or parent/guardian email address). Teachers cannot create an class group to easily monitor groups.
- If you are new to scratch see Introduction to Creative Computing using Scratch
- For students under 8 years old – check out ScratchJr
- There’s Y7-8 resources and NCEA Scratch resources from NZACDITT.
- For more ideas see learning with scratch and using scratch in the classroom.
Gamefroot is a NZ based program that promotes learning code through game development and helping teachers put it into practice. Using Gamefroot, teachers can also develop, test and publish educational games and make them accessible to their colleagues. The resource section shares some lessons for how you can use Gamefroot to meet some of the requirements of the NZ Curriculum and NCEA. Depending on your needs, there may be a cost involved in using Gamefroot.
Tynker offers self-paced online courses for children to learn coding, program and build games, Minecraft mods, apps and more. Teachers can create a group, assign one of the 6 free ‘programming 100’ lessons and work on collaborative projects. After the ‘free’ lessons, there are coding, STEM and robotics courses which a school could purchase.
Khan Academy has free programming tutorials on how to build graphics, animations, interactive visualizations etc.
Hour of Code has free one-hour tutorials in over 45 languages. No previous experience is needed. It has reached “tens of millions of students in 180+ countries”
For this Thing we would like you to explore at least one of the resources then blog your reflection:
- How did you find your coding, computational thinking or augmented reality experience?
- Do you think there is a place for these in the classroom or not? Why?
- Share an image about what you created when you explored the resource.
Core Education posted about Computational Thinking resources:
- what computational thinking is
- sites about computational thinking
- research about computational thinking
You can still access resources from Google’s January 2016 course on Computational Thinking for Educators and the role of CT in the classroom.
Why should students learn to code?
Why Kiwi kids should learn to code by Lee Suckling
Why should schools teach more than basic coding? by Tim Bajarin
15 Reasons Why We Should Be Teaching Our Kids To Code by Jayne Clare
Schools teach coding to get ahead of the pack by Eryk Bradshaw from the Sydney Morning Herald
More on coding …
Computer Science Field Guide is an online interactive resource for high school students learning about computer science.
- Provide a more active experience – making a place or thing more meaningful.
- When you wear a VR headset you are focused on what you see without outside distractions.
- Supports visual learning.
Apps that access AR
The rapid rise of Pokemon Go has raised the profile of AR. For ways to use it in the classroom see Mark Warner’s blog
With Aurasma, you create an “aura” for everyday objects, images, and places turning them into 3D content. Once you have made your “aura” you can share and use the Aurasma app to view your new 3D creation.
Quiver App has printable colouring pages for many subject areas. With the app, the colouring pages ‘come to life’ with animated actions.
Chromville‘s science-based colouring pages ignite creativity in students. Students can join the 3D village adventure by colouring in printed pages and choosing a village. The Chromville Visual App uses its characters to promote storytelling and features a classroom component that has colouring pages explaining the likes of the human body and parts of plant.
Elements 4D lets students combine different elements to see chemistry in action. Teachers can print out and assemble blocks that become trigger images for an AR experience. DAQRI’s website also includes lesson plans for using Elements 4D in the classroom.
Virtual Field Trips: The Pros and Cons of an Educational Innovation by Lilla Robinson
A GfK survey commissioned by Samsung, has a detailed infographic which summaries some of their findings, “Is virtual reality ready for the classroom?” which highlights some of the ways that teachers are or will use virtual reality in the classroom.
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