I am fresh back from Ulearn. My presentation there centred around what I had seen at ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) in Denver this last June, compared to what I see happening in New Zealand and, the truth is, not much difference.
President Obama announced a new digital technologies curriculum in the US in January, and our own Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, announced the same, 6 months later here in NZ. This is because both governments predict that in the near future there are many employment or commercial opportunities opening up for people with computational thinking skills.
So there has been a frenzy of robotics, coding and programming sales and promotion following up on those announcements, which was very noticeable in Denver but also here at Ulearn16. There are Spheros and Ollies and Edisons and Little Bits and circuitry and AR (augmented reality) tools and VR (virtual reality) headsets and many other options available for teachers and schools who want to think about how to prepare for their digital technology curricula.
I have been trying to get my head around the difference between computational thinking and digital fluency. Computational thinking is a way of thinking that can be used to solve problems. Have a look at this excellent resource from Google. This screenshot from the ISTE video on Computational Thinking sums up the skills needed for computational thinking.
So what to do? According to this article from Beth Holland (Edutopia) the ultimate sign of technology fluency is the "ability to manipulate, transform and move information across various media and platforms" - definition supplied by Shawn McCusker. This helps me understand the relationship between computational thinking and digital fluency.
So when you get home from Ulearn, loaded up with the Spheros, Ollies etc, give them out to your teachers, ask them to give them out to their students and for the LEARNERS to discover what they are and how they work and how they could be manipulated and transformed and translated into new outputs. Let the learners inquire. Report back what you find out about the power of computational thinking in your own professional inquiry and please share the stories.
And, ooops, I nearly forgot, here is a resource that you can use to teach computational thinking without a computer or device.