Sidebar: Reference on Computational Thinking

Mike Guzdial’s recent post points out that you can’t assume far transfer in learning, in this case specifically for computational thinking. This thought is also relevant for adapted learning programs and George Siemen’s critique that these programs consider students as part of the system architecture. Advanced learning must include social interaction and what happens within a computer interface is only small part (even if it is a critical part) of becoming an educated person.

A special note here to references Mike G’s reference of Jeannette Wing’s definition of computational thinking – something that should be a part of 21st century skill discussion:

Computational thinking enables you to bend computation to your needs. It is becoming the new literacy of the 21st century. Why should everyone learn a little computational thinking? Cuny, Snyder and I advocate these benefits [CunySnyderWing10]:

Computational thinking for everyone means being able to:

  • Understand which aspects of a problem are amenable to computation,
  • Evaluate the match between computational tools and techniques and a problem,
  • Understand the limitations and power of computational tools and techniques,
  • Apply or adapt a computational tool or technique to a new use,
  • Recognize an opportunity to use computation in a new way, and
  • Apply computational strategies such divide and conquer in any domain.

Computational thinking for scientists, engineers, and other professionals further means being able to:

  • Apply new computational methods to their problems,

  • Reformulate problems to be amenable to computational strategies,

  • Discover new science through analysis of large data,

  • Ask new questions that were not thought of or dared to ask because of scale, but which are easily addressed computationally, and

  • Explain problems and solutions in computational terms.