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A New Year’s R

I’ll bet you think that the R in the title of this IAE Blog entry stands for Resolution. Wrong! It is the 4th R in the list Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic, and Reasoning (computational thinking).

The Fourth R is the title of my newest free (short) book. I strongly believe that the 4th R is now fully as important as each of the first three Rs. My book presents arguments for and “how to” suggestions for fully integrating the 4th R into the PreK-12 curriculum. Like the first three Rs, the study and use of the 4th R should be occurring throughout the school day, as well as outside of school.

The 4th R of Reasoning/computational thinking makes use of both human brain and computer brain to answer questions, represent and solve problems, and accomplish tasks (Moursund, 2016).

Computers and humans do not think in the same manner. In many situations, humans and computers working together can outperform either working alone.

Of course, you are familiar with the first three R’s in the list. Each is both a subject area in its own right and also a powerful aid to learning and performance in many other disciplines of study. The three R’s are so important that they are considered the basics of education. It is now time to add the 4th R to this list of basics.

Learning the 4th R Both In and Outside of School

Take a careful look at today’s children who have become fluent in many different types of uses of connectivity, Smartphones, and other Information and Communications Technology. Much of this learning has occurred outside of school.

At the same time, many schools still frown on students using computers in school for educational and social purposes. For example, while calculators are allowed on some tests, computer use is mainly restricted to taking computer-delivered tests. The curriculum fails to address two fundamental questions:

If a computer can solve or greatly help in solving a type of problem considered important in the curriculum, what should we be teaching students about solving this type of problem, and how should we assess their knowledge and skills?

Here is another important aspect of the 4th R. The 4th R includes Information and Communication Technology designed to help students learn other disciplines. Think about the students who are fortunate enough to have easy and routine access to today’s sophisticated, highly interactive, “intelligent” computer-assisted learning systems. Clearly such instruction is a significant component of the future of education, both in and outside of school.

What You Can Do

Make a New Year’s Resolution to bring the 4th R more fully into your own knowledge and skills set, and into the education of all those, young and old, you are helping to learn.

References and Resources

Moursund, D. (12/23/2016). The Fourth R. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the Microsoft Word file from Download the PDF file from Access the book online at

 Moursund, D. (7/10/2016). Project Tomorrow: A report on uses of computer technology in education. IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/30/2016 from

Moursund, D. (2016). Computational thinking. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 12/30/2016 from

Moursund, D. (2016). What the future is bringing us. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 12/30/2016 from

Moursund, D. (2015). Problem solving. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 12/30/2016 from

Moursund, D. (2015). Two brains are better than one. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 12/30/2016 from

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Tuesday, 19 January 2021

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