This free Information Age Education Newsletter
is written by David Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. For more
information, see the end of this newsletter.
newsletter’s goal is to help improve education. Please help build
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“My familiarity with various software programs is
part of my intelligence if I have access to those tools.” (David
"The most dangerous experiment we can
conduct with our children is to keep schooling the same at a time when
every other aspect of our society is dramatically changing." (Chris
Dede, written statement to the PCAST panel, 1997.) Read about Dede at http://iae-pedia.org/Chris_Dede
literacy and computational thinking were mentioned in the IAE
Newsletter #8 and #9. Computer literacy became a well-known term after
Art Luehrmann discussed in a 1972 article and the Conference Board of
the Mathematical Sciences discussed in a 1972 report. Luehrmann’s fun
and delightful article is available at http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss3/seminal/seminalarticle1.pdf
both 1972 documents, there is an emphasis on students learning to make
use of a computer to help solve problems and accomplish tasks. There is
an emphasis on learning how to tell a computer what to do by learning
how to write computer programs.
The result was a substantial
growth in teaching various types of computer literacy courses at the
precollege level. Many of these courses involved students learning how
to program in BASIC or Logo. However, eventually this computer
programming orientation of computer literacy courses nearly died out.
It was replaced by students learning to make use of a search engine on
the Web, email in the Internet, a word processor, computer-assisted
instruction, and computer games.
Looking at More Current
Jeannette Wing was the Head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon when the following article was published:
Jeannette M. (March, 2006). Computational thinking. Communications of
the Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved 2/9/2009: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/wing/www/publications/Wing06.pdf
then, Jeannette Wing has become the Head of the Computer &
Information Science & Engineering Directorate at the National
Science Foundation. Her work there is giving a huge push to
In some sense, computational
thinking is an updated version of the idea of computer literacy. Quoted
from the Website of the Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie
- Computational thinking is a way of solving
problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that
draws on concepts fundamental to computer science.
thinking means creating and making use of different levels of
abstraction, to understand and solve problems more effectively.
- Computational thinking is about the automation of these abstractions.
- Our vision is that computational thinking is for everyone, not just computer scientists.
Looking into the
my opinion, the concepts of both computer literacy and computational
thinking are too narrow. Spend some time studying the following
diagram. It is adapted from the “Person Plus” work of David Perkins.
basic idea is that humans develop and learn to use tools that extend
their physical and mental capabilities. These tools help them solve
problems and accomplish tasks. Many of these problems and tasks could
not be done without the tools.
Many tools are aids to both
physical and mental performance. Many tools include a broad range of
information and communication capabilities. So when you hear the term
computational thinking, think more broadly than just computers and
Thus, we need students to learn “Tool
Literacy” and “Tool Thinking.” This should be occurring in a hands-on
teaching and learning environment that includes authentic content,
authentic instruction, and authentic assessment.
About Information Age
Information Age Education is a non-profit organization
improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. IAE
is a project of the Science Factory, a 501(c)(3) science and technology
museum located in Eugene, Oregon. Current IAE activities include a Wiki
with address http://IAE-pedia.org,
a Website containing free books and articles at http://I-A-E.org,
and the free newsletter you are now reading.
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