The journal of “Informatics in Education” has decided to start publishing of Special Issues once a year. This is a reward to guest editors, who have extended the cooperation and relationship with authors, and this way have augmented the visibility of discussed academic topics in the academic research community.
The first special issue is devoted to Pedagogy of Computational Thinking and Programming. Computational thinking skills, forming the basis for programming and coding, is at the same time the logical base for programming concepts. On the one hand, it has become a subject of international awareness regarding preschool, primary, and secondary levels of education, on the other hand, computational thinking still remains a narrow field, which is taught at the level of higher education and computing skills development is rather limited in certain occupational groups.
Children and young adults are now growing up in a world that is markedly different from that witnessed by previous generations, where computers, mobile phones, the Internet and social media networks are predominantly intertwined with daily life activities. As a result, their approach to problem solving, learning experiences, and thinking skills have significantly changed.
However, the knowledge of how to use technologies is forming an important part of our life today, and the actual understanding of the rationale, which is behind these technologies, are two the very different propositions.
Learning the basic concepts, related to computer science and programming, learners can better understand the digital world, in which they live, and at the same time they can improve the quality of their connections to the world. Learning of programming, as well as their understanding of the logic of science, that controls these new technologies, lie behind the entertainment, which technologies have brought about. This has become a much larger discovery, both for young children and for young adults. As a result, it contributes to their digital transformations. In this context, programming becomes one of the basic digital literacy skills important for the contemporary digital age.
The general-purpose programming languages, commonly used today for adults, are text-based, but the use of graphic-based tools for children and young adults are increasing. The tools and methods used in teaching of programming are being enriched with different hardware-based tools: starting from programming of toys at the introductory level, moving to unplugged activity-based computer science applications, adopting game and creative drama approaches, and finally, the advanced physical and robotic programming.
In this context, looking from a pedagogical perspective, this special issue aims at bringing together different applications and approaches to the educational process of programming at different ages and levels, within the triangle of software, hardware and method. In addition to analyses of literature reviews and unplugged activities, there are block-based programmes, mobile-based approaches and computing behaviours discussed in this issue. Although a limited number of articles can be published within this special issue, the articles chosen to be published have the potential for future studies, will hopefully be of interest to many researchers and encourage them to find the effective ways of teaching programming across all education levels.
I would like to thank all the authors, who have contributed to this special issue and shared their pedagogical experiences of teaching computational thinking and programming.
In this study, effectiveness of a computer science course at the secondary school level is investigated through a holistic approach addressing the dimensions of instructional content design, development, implementation and evaluation framed according to ADDIE instructional design model where evaluation part constituted the research process for the current study. The process has initiated when the computer science curriculum had major revisions in order to provide in-service teachers with necessary support and guidance. The study is carried through as a project, which lasted more than one year and both quantitative and qualitative measures were used through a sequential explanatory method approach. The intention was to investigate the whole process in detail in order to reveal the effectiveness of the process and the products. In this regard, not only teachers' perceptions but also students' developments in their perceptions of academic achievement and computational thinking, as well as correlations between the computational thinking sub-factors were investigated. The findings showed that the instructional materials and activities developed within the scope of the study, positively affected the computational thinking and academic achievement of students aged 10 and 12 years old. The teachers' weekly feedbacks regarding application structures and implementation processes were also supported the findings and revealed some more details that will be useful both for instructional designers and teachers.
It is important today to prepare pre-service teachers to integrate social media tools into their lessons and to teach them how to use social media as a learning environment for educational context. Based on this, an undergraduate course was designed to fulfil this need. Hence, the purpose of this study is to investigate the behaviours and perceptions of 27 pre-service teachers enrolled to a 14-week social-media enriched blended course. Facebook was used to support an out-of-class teaching and learning process. During the course, students developed educational content and were informed on how to use social media as a learning environment in an educational context. After implementation, they were asked to respond to an open-ended questionnaire related to the 14-week course process and social media usage in lessons. According to the findings, pre-service teachers stated that the use of social media tools, in addition to face-to-face learning, can enhance the dissemination of announcements, communication between students and instructor, the sharing of instructional activities, discussions, and the use and creation of multimedia tools and applications 24x7, by extending the limits of normal class hours. Most also stated that they would use Facebook for material and announcement sharing once they were in-service teachers. In addition to Facebook, they emphasised that they would also use Prezi, Glogster, MindMeister and Edmodo for their lessons and that they had learnt new concepts and social media tools during the course. They also suggested increasing the number of course hours and reducing course content per course session.
Computer programming is perceived as an important competence for the development of problem solving skills in addition to logical reasoning. Hence, its integration throughout all educational levels, as well as the early ages, is considered valuable and research studies are carried out to explore the phenomenon in more detail. In light of these facts, this study is an exploratory effort to investigate the effect of Scratch programming on 5th grade primary school students' problem solving skills. Moreover, the researchers wondered what 5th grade primary school students think about programming. This study was carried out in an explanatory sequential mixed methods design with the participation of 49 primary school students. According to the quantitative results, programming in Scratch platform did not cause any significant differences in the problem solving skills of the primary school students. There is only a non-significant increase in the mean of the factor of "self- confidence in their problem solving ability". When the thoughts of the primary students were considered, it can be clearly stated that all the students liked programming and wanted to improve their programming. Finally, most of the students found the Scratch platform easy to use.