Computing as a discipline has common roots with mathematics and written languages, and computing as a way of thinking and handling has been integral to human culture since ever. This is not only a reasonable argument for convincing society to consider informatics as one of the very fundamental pillars of education, but it also puts the potential contributions of teaching informatics in schools into the correct perspective in the context of science and humanities. Many European countries are switching from teaching information technologies to informatics education during the current second decade of this century. Informatics curriculum is becoming a central part of school education. We explain and design a way of developing informatics curriculum that offer the critical competences new generations need to survive and thrive in todays’ knowledge society and will allow them to contribute to the future development of society. These competences also strongly support the development of their intellectual potential and creativity. Our design of informatics curriculum takes into account the interaction with other scientific disciplines as well with the subject didactics, pedagogy and psychology. The starting point is merging constructionism and critical thinking. Constructionism with its “learning by doing” and “learning by getting things to work” enables designing a teaching process in which students acquire knowledge by creating products, analysing the properties and the functionality of their own products, and finally derive motivation to improve these products. Critical thinking asks us not to teach products of science and technology and their application, but to teach the creative process of their development. To implement this approach, we use the historical method allowing the students to learn by productive failures in the process of searching for a solution. To organize the process of learning and make the different steps available to the appropriate age groups we take into account the cognitive dimensions of the revised taxonomy of Bloom. To illustrate how the combination of all these concepts works we present a detailed curriculum for algorithm design, programming, robotics, and communication in networks.
Over its short disciplinary history, computing has seen a stunning number of descriptions of the field's characteristic ways of thinking and practicing, under a large number of different labels. One of the more recent variants, notably in the context of K-12 education, is "computational thinking", which became popular in the early 2000s, and which has given rise to many competing views of the essential character of CT. This article analyzes CT from the perspective of computing's disciplinary ways of thinking and practicing, as expressed in writings of computing's pioneers. The article describes six windows into CT from a computing perspective: its intellectual origins and justification, its aims, and the central concepts, techniques, and ways of thinking in CT that arise from those different origins. The article also presents a way of analyzing CT over different dimensions, such as in terms of breadth vs. depth, specialization vs. generalization, and in terms of skill progression from beginner to expert. Those different views have different aims, theoretical references, conceptual frameworks, and origin stories, and they justify their intellectual essence in different ways.
The development of communication and other soft skills among computer science students is not usually an easy task. Often, curricula focus on technical skills, with team projects being used for the improvement of communication skills. However, these teams usually comprise solely of computer science students. In this paper, we present a didactical methodology, called MIMI, which can be used in a short, intensive, programme for undergraduate students. This methodology has been implemented in real projects that have run annually since 2014. We advocate the use of team-based projects, with an important requirement that each team is both multidisciplinary and multinational. Additionally, the period of teamwork is short and intensive. A significant role in the project is given to team mentors. A mentor is a person, usually a university lecturer, who helps the team organize their work and tracks if the team’s planned didactical results are being achieved. The program has proved to stimulate an increase of soft skills among the students who participated and, in particular, among the computer science students. The detailed description of our process will allow others to implement and build similar events in their university or company environments, the focus of which is a Multinational, Intercultural, Multidisciplinary & Intensive (MIMI) methodology approach.
Developing an engaging and positive learning environment for learners, especially in a particular course, is one of the most creative aspects of teaching. Learning design supports the design of interventions, which are pedagogically informed, promote student-centered learning activities and make effective use of appropriate resources and technologies. In the context of this work, a framework is proposed for teaching learning design issues in tertiary education which interweaves teacher-centered activities with student-centered activities. The students are engaged in lab activities and in a learning design peer assessment project. Sustainable feedback practices are considered an integral part of the whole process. Findings drawn from an empirical study carried out during two consecutive academic years reveal that the interweaving of instruction and assessment may contribute to the understanding of the main learning design issues and to the cultivation of skills both in the development of educational applications as well as in the design of technology enhanced learning activities.
In Poland, talent development is organized mainly outside or alongside the educational system. A large number of privately funded informatics contests and extra-curricular talent development programs for highly motivated students are available. However, traditional competitions also exist including national informatics Olympiads and competitions mainly supported by the Ministry of Education. In particular, we stimulate interest in informatics by organizing the annual nationwide InfoSukces contest. This contest was organized for the first time in 2015 when informatics education in Poland was experiencing difficulties recruiting new students, who were in growing demand on the labor market. The aim of the contest is now to make students aware that the jobs of the future require problem-solving, digital skills, and creative thinking, all of which can be taught through informatics. The contest also provides a platform for a unique series of activities, the goal of which is to support partnerships and knowledge flow between schools and universities. This article provides a case study of the final stage of the InfoSukces contest, which involves the participants developing a “work of art” in the Scratch programming environment. It also presents the holistic method for quantitative evaluation of the students’ creative visual-based programming projects.
We focus on two types of centralised national examinations (the 10th grade tests and Matura examination) that are being carried out in Lithuania for two decades. The aim of the paper is to analyse assessments of mathematics for the entire Lithuanian secondary school population that have no sampling errors while considering the factors of location, school ownership and gender as important indicators when judging about educational effectiveness in terms of quality and equity. We analyse the results of the 10th grade tests for the 2011–2015 period and the results of the same cohorts participating in the Matura examination. We observe that the distribution of the assessments of both exams is asymmetric with a positive skew. The median often is below the middle of the grade scale indicating poor performance or mismatch between knowledge and examination tasks. There are limited differences in assessments with respect to gender and school location, although we detect a tendency to have better mathematics achievement in private schools. The conclusions drawn from national assessment data is somewhat different from international data thus one cannot neglect national information for the development of educational policy. The variables analysed in the analysis has limited predictive power for achievements in mathematics and further analysis is called-for.
In education, we have noticed a significant gap between the ability of students to program in an educational visual programming environment and the ability to write code in a professional programming environment. The aim of our research was to verify the methodology of transition from visual programming of mobile applications in MIT App Inventor 2 to textual programming in the Android Studio using the Java Bridge tool as a mediator of knowledge transfer. We have examined the extent, to which students will be able to independently program own mobile applications after completing the transition from visual to textual programming using the mediator. To evaluate the performance of students, we have analysed qualitative data from teaching during 1 school year and determined the degree of achievement of educational goals according to Bloom’s taxonomy. The results suggest that students in the secondary education can acquire advanced skills in programming mobile applications in a professional programming environment, when they have knowledge of visual programming in an educational programming environment, and a suitable mediator is used to transfer such knowledge into a new context.