One thing should be made clear though, coding and computer science are not one and the same. Coding is a sub-set of computer science. Computer science is essential for success in our increasingly digital world, while coding is really a nice-to-have. To that end, we’ve seen increased recognition that there are a set of foundational skills needed to prepare students for learning advanced coding and computer science – especially our youngest students.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), has recently moved to address this need with proposed additions to their standards. According to ISTE, “advances in computing have expanded our capacity to solve problems at a scale never before imagined…. students will need to learn and practice new skills—computational thinking (CT) skills—to take full advantage of these revolutionary changes brought about by rapid changes in technology”.
So, what are Computational Thinking skills? This questions comes up often in the Learning.com offices. Computational Thinking is a problem-solving process that includes approaches, such as:
- Logically organizing and analyzing data;
- Breaking large problems into smaller sub-problems which can be solved independently, leading to a solution to the larger, more-complicated problem;
- Automating solutions through a series of ordered steps; and
- Formulating problems in a way that enables us to use a computer or other tools to help solve them.
Learning this way of thinking, and approach to problem-solving, is important for learners not only to help them with coding, but more importantly for future college and career success. Learning these skills can help students develop:
- Confidence in dealing with complexity and ambiguity;
- Persistence in working with difficult problems;
- The ability to deal with open-ended problems; and
- The ability to communicate and work with others to achieve a common goal or solution.
President Obama has said “computer science isn’t an optional skill—it is a basic skill right up there with the three R’s”. I think it is safe to say that not every student will become a coder, but at a basic level, the foundational skills of computer science and computational thinking are relevant and significant to the future of every student, just as reading writing and arithmetic have been for generations. I am excited by the increased emphasis this area of instruction is getting around the country, and look forward to building towards a future where all K-12 students are developing these critical skills.
Keith Oelrich joined Learning.com as CEO in 2012. A pioneer in the K-12 online education market since 2000, Keith has served as CEO of several companies which have collectively provided K-12 online education programs to thousands of districts, tens of thousands of schools and millions of students and their families.
Implementing a Successful Digital Literacy Plan
Digital literacy encompasses a range of skills that transform the ways in which students learn, collaborate and digest information. These digital...
Helping Teachers With Compassion Fatigue
People typically become teachers because they love children and have a passion for educating and helping others. The problem is sometimes teachers...
Examples of Digital Literacy in Education
Digital literacy is having the skills to effectively use technology and to do so safely and responsibly. “Digital” refers to technology, ranging...
Arlington ISD Renews Focus on Digital Skills for Future-Ready Students
Situated between Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas, Arlington Independent School District serves 56,000 K-12 students, and has offered Learning.com's...
The Importance of Digital Citizenship in Education
In 2019, 95% percent of 3- to 18-year-olds were reported to have home internet access, according to the American Community Survey (ACS). In a...
Join Us in Thanking Teachers This Week
This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, an important time to recognize the invaluable contributions of teachers in our lives. From early...
Tips for Teachers and Parents to Prepare Students to be Safe Online This Summer
Being a good citizen in the digital world is just as important as being one in the physical world. Digital citizenship means being respectful and...
The Changing Role from Librarian to Digital Media Specialists
What comes to mind when you think of a school librarian? Books? Circle time? Quietly selecting literature to read at a table? That may be what we...
Algorithmic Thinking: A Critical Skill for Today’s Students
For many people, “algorithmic thinking” conjures visions of a Good Will Hunting whiteboard with extensive equations and symbols long forgotten in...