From Computational Thinking to Computational Participation in K-12 Education: Yasmin Kafai in CACM

August 17, 2016 at 7:06 am 1 comment

Yasmin Kafai has been a friend and mentor to me for years — she introduced me to my PhD advisor, Elliot Soloway.  Her book with Quinn Burke, Connected Code, updates thinking about the role of computing and programming in schools. They emphasize an idea they call Computational Participation as a contrast with computational thinking.  I asked Yasmin to do a CACM Viewpoint on the idea, and it’s published this month. Yasmin has shared the paper on Academia.edu.

In the 1980s many schools featured Basic, Logo, or Pascal programming computer labs. Students typically received weekly introductory programming instruction. These exercises were often of limited complexity, disconnected from classroom work, and lacking in relevance. They did not deliver on promises. By the mid-1990s most schools had turned away from programming. Pre-assembled multimedia packages burned onto glossy CD-ROMs took over. Toiling over syntax typos and debugging problems were no longer classroom activities.

Computer science is making a comeback in schools. We should not repeat earlier mistakes, but leverage what we have learned. Why are students interested in programming? Under what circumstances do they do it, and how? Computational thinking and programming are social, creative practices. They offer a context for making applications of significance for others, communities in which design sharing and collaboration with others are paramount. Computational thinking should be reframed as computational participation.

Source: From Computational Thinking to Computational Participation in K-12 Education | August 2016 | Communications of the ACM

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Daniel Green  |  August 18, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I am reminded of a quote from Seymour Papert discussed at the Scratch conference, “Education has very little to do with explanation, it has to do with engagement, with falling in love with the material” – also relevant from Seymour – “You cannot think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something” – participation is key.

    Reply

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