New ISTE Standards emphasize computational thinking with a better definition

August 12, 2016 at 7:53 am 5 comments

ISTE has just released their ed-tech-influenced standards for students for 2016, and they include computational thinking — with a better definition than the more traditional ones.  It’s not about changing how students think.  It’s about giving students the tools to solve problems with technology.  I liked the frequent use of the term “algorithmic thinking” to emphasize the connections to the history of the ideas.  This definition doesn’t get to systems and processes (for example), but it’s more realistic than the broad transferable thinking skills claim.


Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

Source: For Students 2016

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    It seems to me that 5c “break problems into component parts … to understand complex systems” does address the systems and processes component you say is missing. What more were you looking for at this level of detail?

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  August 15, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      Programs run in processes. There can be many processes running at once. Processes can interact. Processes can share data and work together to solve problems more quickly (across multiple processors) than can a single process. Processes are important when trying to understand systems.

      • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  August 16, 2016 at 1:47 am

        OK, multiprocess parallel systems is not explicitly covered. Neither is assembly language, finite state machines, or lots of other very technical material.

        The basic (and transferable) concept of systems thinking is dividing things up with well-defined interfaces—that is covered, and the special case you are thinking of is just that—a useful special case.

        • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  August 16, 2016 at 7:36 am

          We need processes to explain some of the most salient aspects of computing today. What’s a “core” and why do I want more than one? Google’s building a new server farm? What’s that? These are the kinds of questions that people might have about their world that are hard to explain without processes.

  • […] everything is new and just developing. We just had the K-12 CS Framework released. There are ISTE Standards, and CSTA Standards, and individual state standards like in Massachusetts. Unlike science and […]


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