6
Next Steps

Discussions held at the February 2009 workshop did not reveal general agreement among workshop participants about the precise content of computational thinking, let alone its structure. Nevertheless, the lack of explicit disagreement about its elements could be taken as reflecting a shared intuition among workshop participants that computational thinking, as a mode of thought, has its own distinctive character.

Building on this shared intuition, it is fair to say that most workshop participants agreed that more deliberation is necessary to achieve greater clarity about what is encompassed under the rubric of computational thinking and how these elements are structured relative to each other. Toward this end, workshop participants thought that the second workshop would have value. Scheduled to occur in early 2010 and devoted to exploring pedagogy and how best to expose students to the ideas of computational thinking, the deliberations of this follow-on workshop will be valuable in shedding additional light on the content and structure of computational thinking for three reasons.

First, the diversity of views on the nature of computational thinking allows a great deal for exploration and innovation within the boundaries of a shared intuition, even if that intuition was not made precise in the first workshop.

Second, when designing courses, educators often reveal their beliefs about what is central to the subjects in question. Thus, a consideration of provocative and innovative examples of courses and curricular material



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OCR for page 65
6 Next Steps Discussions held at the February 2009 workshop did not reveal gen- eral agreement among workshop participants about the precise content of computational thinking, let alone its structure. Nevertheless, the lack of explicit disagreement about its elements could be taken as reflecting a shared intuition among workshop participants that computational think - ing, as a mode of thought, has its own distinctive character. Building on this shared intuition, it is fair to say that most workshop participants agreed that more deliberation is necessary to achieve greater clarity about what is encompassed under the rubric of computational thinking and how these elements are structured relative to each other. Toward this end, workshop participants thought that the second work- shop would have value. Scheduled to occur in early 2010 and devoted to exploring pedagogy and how best to expose students to the ideas of computational thinking, the deliberations of this follow-on workshop will be valuable in shedding additional light on the content and structure of computational thinking for three reasons. First, the diversity of views on the nature of computational thinking allows a great deal for exploration and innovation within the boundaries of a shared intuition, even if that intuition was not made precise in the first workshop. Second, when designing courses, educators often reveal their beliefs about what is central to the subjects in question. Thus, a consideration of provocative and innovative examples of courses and curricular material 

OCR for page 65
 REPORT OF A WORKSHOP ON COMPUTATIONAL THINKING related to computational thinking is likely to provide valuable further insights into individual perspectives on that topic. Last, and as noted at the end of Section 4.1.1, the technological sub- strate has proliferated by orders of magnitude since the late 1960s. Young people today—the targets of K-12 education—are correspondingly far more familiar with various manifestations of information technology and thus also more familiar with different contexts in which computational thinking can be relevant. It is hoped that the pedagogical focus of the second workshop will shed additional light on some of these different contexts. For these reasons, the committee looks forward to the second work- shop with anticipation.