Education has seen waves of changes in its modes of instruction. Education began in prehistory when the adults would impart necessary knowledge and skills to the children that were considered necessary in the society they lived in. It was the preliterate times when the mode of instruction was through imitation and storytelling. The first evidence of formal education was found in Egypt. From the Greco-Roman academies to the Aztec and ancient Chinese systems, education evolved and took its present desk and chair in classroom form. Recently, computational thinking is playing an important role in EdTech.
Have we maximized our potential in the learning sector with the advent of desktops? The answer is apparently negative, because this is just the beginning of a new era of education: the Computational Thinking of EdTech.
Read on to find out how it has revolutionized EdTech.
What is EdTech?
EdTech, or educational technology is the simultaneous use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory in practice to bolster the learning experience. The term EdTech refers to the host of companies that are responsible for creating innovative educational technology, such as Blackboard, Teachers Pay Teachers, Coursera, Knewton, and Byju’s. In simple terms, EdTech is using the IT tools and educational practices together for an enhanced learning experience. Today’s classroom has moved beyond the traditional desktops and notepads. Today’s learning experience includes interactive online classes, and even robots who can record and take notes for the kids. This way everyone learns at their own pace, which gives rise to individualized learning.
BuiltIn says that,
“Edtech tools make it easier for teachers to create individualized lesson plans and learning experiences that foster a sense of inclusivity and boost the learning capabilities of all students, no matter their age or learning abilities.”
What is Computational Thinking?
Human beings have been using computers since 1936 to solve complex problems. However, before a computer can solve a problem for us, the ways and methods it employs to solve the problem must be understood. Computational Thinking allows us to do that. According to the BBC, “Computational thinking allows us to take a complex problem, understand what the problem is and develop possible solutions. We can then present these solutions in a way that a computer, a human, or both, can understand.”
There are 4 cornerstones to Computational Thinking, they are as follows:
- Pattern Recognition
These cornerstones are like legs to a table, and even if one leg is missing, the system will not work properly and will crash.
How Computational Thinking in Ed-Tech Can Change the Future of Education?
Chris Stephenson, head of Computer Science Education Strategy at Google says that,
“Like any classroom, a successful computer science or STEM classroom is a place where all students are deeply engaged in genuine learning and where every student, regardless of her or his ultimate career pathway, is learning how to solve problems and express solutions using real-world tools and strategies.”
Computational Thinking helps the students to achieve skills at all levels, from beginner to advanced. It is more than just using technology or computer science, but it is a methodical way of approaching different problems. This will surely revolutionize how students are taught in a classroom. More than the end result, Computational Learning thinks about the ways of reaching that result.
How Computational Thinking has Affected STEM Education?
Katharine McClelland and Lori Grata, Instructional Technology and Leadership doctoral students at Duquesne University have found out that Computational Learning in STEM education boosts “confidence in dealing with complexity, persistence in working with difficult problems, tolerance of ambiguity, the ability to deal with open-ended problems, and the ability to communicate and work with others to achieve a common goal or solution. In fact … the need of both new literacies and computational thinking to promote creative thinking across disciplines in an attempt to bridge the divide between traditionally creative content areas (music, art, and writing) and scientific areas (math, science, engineering)” can be addressed by this very method of teaching. This means that the future of education is not restricted to specific fields, but it is rather holistic with Computational Thinking.
Who Has Benefited the Most From Computational Thinking?
Contrary to popular belief, computational thinking is not used by just computer scientists and programmers. People from all walks of life and professions such as doctors, engineers, artists, carpenters, and fire fighters can benefit from it.
Fun Fact: you are using computational thinking subconsciously on a daily basis!
So much of modern-day business involves problem-solving, whether it is making small improvements to enhance performance, or large shifts to expand the business. Because everything is data-driven in the 21st century, computational thinking is for everyone. Anyone can use the computers collaboratively in order to get the most out of them. However, the school-going students and learners are the most benefited faction because when you start early on, you develop a habit that is useful in the longer run.
Computational Thinking Versus Traditional Thinking
While computational thinking involves a methodical approach to finding various ways of solving a problem, regular thinking just focuses on the problem. Speaking colloquially, you can say that computational thinking is more about the journey while thinking is more about destination. While both methods have their pros and cons and there is no wrong way of thinking, computational thinking is more structured with logical approaches which can fit in any professional setting and individual. This is why Silicon Valley is promoting and recruiting computational thinkers in their spheres.
Benefits of Computational Thinking in the Practical World
Here are a few benefits of computational thinking in the practical world:
- Computational Thinkers are Problem Solvers: It is a structured mode of teaching and learning based on algorithms that identifies patterns and abstractions in logical terms.
- Computational Thinkers are Original: because computational thinkers are trained in understanding ways to solve a problem, they innovate to find new methods for problem solving and applying them to a concept.
- Computational Thinkers are Creators: Kevin Cummins writes in Innovative Teaching Ideas that, “An algorithm is nothing more than a set of instructions. When used in Cooking it is called a recipe. When used in Mathematics it is called an equation. When used in a basketball game we call it a play, and when used in computer science we call it coding. Algorithmic Design is a logical part of the computational thinking process allowing students to create computer instructions using languages such as Scratch and Python which make computers and machines do things they could previously not.” Computational thinkers can create the algorithms for any process on earth.
- Time-tested and Research-based: Because of this property, companies such as Apple, Google, and MicroSoft are actively hiring individuals who are trained in computational thinking. Nothing in computational thinking is based on abstract concepts.
- Fun to Learn and Teach: Computational thinking is simple. It is engaging and interactive. It pays attention to individuals, and proceeds at a separate pace for everyone.
Read more: How to implement SAM model in e-learning?
Computational Thinking is definitely the future of the world. With all professions and edtech gearing toward this innovative form of thinking, masses will be geared to producing more, instead of just consuming. Fasten your seatbelts for a roller-coaster era of progress!