Over the past decade, there has been much discussion of the term computational thinking. The term, popularized by computer scientist Jeannette Wing, is generally used to describe computer-science concepts and strategies that can be useful in understanding and solving problems in a wide range of disciplines and contexts. In a growing number of schools around the world, there are now efforts to help students develop as computational thinkers.In our Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab, we prefer to focus on the idea of computational fluency rather than computational thinking. Why? We want to highlight the importance of children developing as computational creators as well as computational thinkers. In our view, computational fluency involves not only an understanding of computational concepts and problem-solving strategies, but also the ability to create and express oneself with digital technologies.Our group created the Scratch programming language and online community to help children develop computational fluency. Our approach with Scratch is distinct from many introductions to coding in that we focus explicitly on helping children learn to express themselves creatively through coding.Most introductions to coding are based on puzzles. Children are asked to create a program to move a virtual character past some obstacles to reach a goal. As children create programs to solve these puzzles, they learn basic coding skills and computer science concepts.With Scratch, we focus on projects instead of puzzles. When we introduce children to Scratch, we encourage them to create interactive stories, games, and animations, based on their own interests. They start with ideas and turn them into projects that they can share with other people.Why focus on projects? We take seriously the analogy between coding and writing. When you learn to write, it’s not enough to learn spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It’s important to learn to tell stories and communicate your ideas. The same is true for coding. Puzzles might be fine for mastering the basic grammar and punctuation of coding, and learning the basic concepts of computer science, but they won’t help you learn to express yourself.Imagine trying to learn to write just by working on crossword puzzles. Solving crossword puzzles could improve your spelling and vocabulary, and it could be fun, but would you become a good writer, able to tell stories and express your ideas fluently? I don’t think so. A project-based approach is the best path to fluency, whether for writing or coding.Even though most people don’t grow up to become professional journalists or novelists, it’s important for everyone to learn to write. So too with coding — and for similar reasons. Most people won’t grow up to become professional programmers or computer scientists, but developing fluency with coding is valuable for everyone. Becoming fluent, whether with writing or coding, helps you to develop your thinking, develop your voice, and develop your identity.Developing Your ThinkingIn the process of writing, you learn to organize, refine, and reflect on your ideas. As you become a better writer, you become a better thinker.As you learn to code, you also become a better thinker. For example, you learn how to break complex problems into simpler parts. You learn how to identify problems and debug them. You learn how to iteratively refine and improve designs over time. These types of strategies are at the core of computational thinking.Once you learn these computational-thinking strategies, they can be useful in all types of problem-solving and design activities, not just in coding and computer science. By learning to debug computer programs, you’ll be better prepared to figure out what went wrong when a recipe doesn’t work out in the kitchen or when you get lost following someone’s directions.Solving puzzles can be helpful in developing some of these computational-thinking skills, but creating your own projects takes you further, helping you develop your voice and develop your identity.Developing Your VoiceBoth writing and coding are forms of expression, ways to communicate your ideas with others. When you learn to write, for example, you can send a birthday message to a friend, submit an op-ed piece to your local newspaper, or record your personal feelings in a diary.I see coding as an extension of writing, enabling you to “write” new types of things — interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations. Let me share an example from the Scratch online community (which I discuss more fully in my TED talk about kids learning to code).A few years ago, on the day before Mother’s Day, I decided to use Scratch to make an interactive Mother’s Day card for my mom. Before starting, I checked to see if anyone else had made Mother’s Day cards in Scratch. I typed “Mother’s Day” in the search box, and I was delighted to see dozens and dozens of projects — many of them created in the previous 24
Jamie Back is using 3D printing to help encourage her students to have an innovative mindset and to exposes them to elements of design thinking and to fosters self-directed learning.
Is there a future for higher education? There is probably no other industry or social institution quite as invested in the future than education, yet its struggles with self-reinvention manifest as a ticking time bomb, putting the future of both the institutions and wider society at risk. Almost every commentary on a number of social ills has a subtext that highlights the uncertainties around the future of education. Poor civic engagement? Blame education. Job preparation? Fix education. STEM skills? Reinvent education.
In this context, a constructive futurist approach would be to ask what aspects of higher education today are worth preserving, which ones could or should be relegated to history, and which have the most potential to create desirable futures?
The world is changing fast and requiring solutions to ever-more complex problems. Society is looking to education to provide the foundations from which individuals can address these global challenges. As a thought exercise in identifying the various pressure points in the future of education, here are 10 ways higher education could be transformed to support the needs of a changing world.
1. Blended Learning
Students should be able to draw on inputs from multiple organizations, combining online courses, live participation, in work, and in-community activities to create customized qualifications
2. Community Learning Centers
Higher education institutions could become genuine 24/7/365 community centres where adults can come to socialise with peers, take part in any lecture, deliver their own lectures, and participate in the research of the university. At night, classroom facilities could be used to educate those working elsewhere during the day, and even provide facilities from which they can launch and run new businesses.
3. Dropout University
Higher education should encourage dropouts, to allow students to learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn it. There should be no expectations for students to commit to a certain amount of time in the institution or take a certain sequential set of courses. Higher education should also set aside its largely exclusive association with the young adult age group and embrace all ages and life stages as pools of potential students.
4. Self-Grading and Peer Grading
The use of technology to allow for students to conduct highly transparent and constructive forms of self-grading and peer grading could bring about more meaningful learning experiences. Rather than depend on instructors’ subjective evaluations, more courses should require students to assess their own growth and learning, and that of their peers. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and blockchain could provide the records and support a student would need to evaluate their own work objectively and give them the ability to provide anonymous input on the work of their peers. In this scenario, instructors are facilitators and mentors, and the classroom is less hierarchical than the past and today.
5. Uber for Tutoring
Online platforms could provide a complementary service to match learners with local tutors certified by the institution. Seniors in retirement communities, aspiring actresses, and international students could all become tutors on history, theatre, and foreign languages, for example. The reciprocal rating system would guarantee a mutually beneficial experience, and ultimately a high-quality performance on both parts. In those cases where local tutors are not available, online options could also be provided, but the student would ideally attend a special location where he or she would have a fully immersive experience to connect with the online tutor.
6. From Credits to Blockchain Badges
Following the Scout method of badges or patches to signify achievements, each person would have an un-hackable blockchain identity to keep record of the lessons learned in and outside of school. Other members of society would serve as witnesses or seconders of the accomplishments, and their blockchain identities would share that specific interaction. The decentralization of education is coming with a peer-to-peer, lifelong, and lifewide learning.
7. Pay-It-Forward System to Fund your Degree
A flexible payment system for courses. Students would not need money to pay for tuition. They can pay the fees of enrollment by contributing with their expertise on a subject they master. Students will be able to develop new courses or enhance existing ones in exchange for their own enrollment fees. This approach motivates lifelong learners to share their knowledge and skills with other students, but also ensures up-to-date content in each subject.
8. Biometrics for Personalized Learning
Online courses might incorporate biometric observation, such as eye-tracking software that measures pupil dilatation, which identifies the level of motivation and understanding that a student has on a specific topic. This technology would allow courses to automatically adapt towards students’ needs and ensure deep understanding of each subject.
9. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Holographic Technology to Create Contexts to Practice Skills
Classroom facilities equipped with technology that allows students to practice specific skills such as team work, creative thinking, problem solving, and other work skills of the future. Students would be exposed virtually to different situations typically encountered in the work place, and would learn how to respond accurately in each situation. This learning experience could provide students the opportunity to train themselves and actively learn essential employability skills.
10. A Strong Connection Between the School System, University Programs, and Employers
There could be a close connection between each of the learning stages and the industries and sectors which will ultimately employ the majority of students. They could work collaboratively to understand the student needs and employer expectations. This collaboration process is likely to require constantly adapting curricula to meet with changing industry demands. Technology and connectivity could help facilitate this process.
When instructional designers are involved in online course design, student-to-student interaction goes up, according to a new survey of online education leaders from Quality Matters and Eduventures Research. The survey compared reported student interaction levels at institutions where instructional design support is required for online course development vs. those where such support is absent or optional. Perhaps not surprisingly, respondents perceived interactivity to be significantly higher for the former.
A Beginner’s Guide To Personalized Learning by TeachThought Staff There is a difference between personalized learning and differentiation. Differentiation is a kind of personalized instruction, where teachers adjust process, & product, according to a student’s readiness, interest, & learning style. Planning of the learning starts with the content, and the content remains the same for all students. […]