It's Elementary My Dear. . .

Technology, Education, Business, Politics and anything else in which I might be interested.

Computational Thinking: Nothing More Than Systemic Common Sense Problem-Solving

From what I can determine, computational thinking is said by its proponents to provide a manner of thinking (extrapolated from computer science) that should be applied across all occupational and social endeavors. And that computational thinking should be taught and enforced beginning with the earliest grades. The Computer Science For Fun Site while not doing a very good job of detailing examples of how it should apply, does lay out the types of thinking inclusive in computational thinking.

Logical Thinking: Logical thinking is about deducing as much new information as possible from the little you already have – but (and this is the critical bit) not by jumping to conclusions. The new information gleaned must follow for sure.

Algorithmic Thinking: Algorithmic thinking is developing a set of rules that produce a winning or successful problem-solving strategy each time when confronted with similar circumstances. Once a successful algorithm has been built, one does not need to rethink the exercise from scratch each time.

Efficient Solutions: In computer science, efficiency is basically just about minimizing how much of some resource you use to complete a task. The resources to minimize vary but the most important one is often ‘time’. What matters is usually finding ways that guarantee you get a task done in as few steps as possible.

Scientific Thinking: Basically scientific thinking is essentially not jumping to conclusions without evidence: following the Scientific Method to build up new knowledge. And the steps of the scientific method are to:

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

Innovative Thinking: Innovative thinking means, I think, not only coming up with unique ideas that are guaranteed to better some small or large part of mankind but to push the idea through to fruition.

Jeannette Wing, who coined the term Computational Thinking, wrote: “It represents a universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use. “ In her article, she goes on to characterize Computational Thinking as conceptualizing, not programming; fundamental, not rote skill; a way that humans, not computers, think; complements and combines mathematical and engineering thinking; ideas, not artifacts; for everyone, everywhere.

Given the common sensical attributes of so-called computational thinking, there can be little doubt the whole thing is a bit silly and a lot forced. That we need to ball it all up into curricula and add it to reading, writing, and arithmetic as a basic as early as kindergarten, is ridiculous. Ms. Wing and CMU are garnering considerable attention with considerable fluff. It too will pass but not before we have misdirected billions to buying computational thinking as the skill of the 21st Century.

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We Work Together, But Test Alone

I am currently enrolled in a combined technology certifications course. Upon completion of a number of certification-targeted classroom instruction hours and after taking multiple practice tests, we, isolated from any and all digital and human resources (even our wallets and purses are not allowed), are subjected to an intense, time-regulated multiple choice test for each certification. To be fair, the tests include a few “simulations” which are little more than drag and drop exercises. The test questions are determined by the certification authority, proctored by an employee of the instructional organization, and administered remotely by Pearson VUE.

Two points:

  • technology certification instruction. Think about that for a minute then visualize a standard 1980’s classroom configuration. Add a computer on each desk. The instructor’s desk is to the right front of the room so as not to block the information being projected from the overhead projector onto the screen at the front of the room. For the most part the instructor projects and reads from the certification authority’s text interrupting only to address questions that are thankfully allowed at any point. Students may observe what is being read on the screen at the front of the room or follow along on their personal computers. The text does contain many reinforcing graphical representations. Periodically within the test are computer-based practical exercises that attempt to replicate the real thing using an artificial user interface that in itself requires familiarization. Infrequently (two in a two-month period) a half-day “lab” is conducted. The labs represent limited reality, e.g., setting up a network switch that is not connected to a network. Somehow what we’ve learned in the past 30 years about pedagogies, instructional technologies, and integrating technology into classrooms and curriculums have bypassed the exulted organizations that control technology certifications and those that instruct toward certification achievement.
  • isolated from any and all digital and human resources. The work world is all about sharing, communicating, and collaborating. In a very long and varied career, I have only experienced one job wherein I was unable to correspond with or seek help from others in a timely manner. It was when I was a high school teacher. Not that help wasn’t available overtime, just when most needed. Anyway, for the most part, the work world now expects, even demands, teamwork. Recently I read an article that in a sentence capsulized the way work success has evolved. “We all know who invented the light bulb but who invented the iPhone?” Yet we continue to test knowledge in isolation rather than performance within a group. The future lies in developing and administering team performance tests that also measure individual knowledge and collaborative acuity.

Educational Theories

Question: Why is teaching that relies solely on conventional didactic instructional strategies considered ineffective teaching? I was taught that way and achieved a Masters degree and consider myself to be at a somewhat higher than at an intermediate level of technological expertise.

Exactly what are we searching for? I wonder if is there is no there, there. Just seems as though every paradigm, theory and model proposed between then and now has had little if any positive influence on learning.

Don’t Neglect Windows 10 Store for Education Apps

Microsoft fell far behind Google and Apple in the app race, especially in the education area. Things are changing for the better for education. The store is improving in organization and app quality. Check out the offerings. Many Most are free. Review carefully; many Microsoft apps were previously disappointing, even scams.

Education

I’ve previously discussed how difficult it is for an individual teacher, no matter the platform, to select appropriate apps for integration. The process needs be a grade and content subject collaborative effort aligned with applicable standards. And educators should be quick to discard and replace while widely advertising their reviews, at least within their PLCs, which btw, should also be composed of like grade and content educators. Again, and this can’t be emphasized enough, each teacher must select the apps that complement their individual pedagogy and peculiar student mix. Departments, schools, districts, and states would be badly remiss to dictate standard educational apps. Economies of scale don’t come into play when the purchase price is free.

Pearson All Set to Become the World’s Superintendent of Education-Scary

Warning! The following content may contain elements that are not suitable for some audiences. Accordingly, viewer reader discretion is advised.

After Selling Stake in The Economist Group, Pearson Now Has Extra $2 Billion for Education Efforts

Aug 12, 2015

SHEDDING MORE WEIGHT FOR POUNDS: Pearson has sold its 50 percent stake in The Economist Group to existing shareholders for £469 million (approximately US $732 million). Exor, an Italian holding company that controls Fiat Chrysler, has agreed to pay £287 million to for 6.3 million ordinary shares and all of Pearon’s [sic] “B” shares, which will increase its stake in The Economist Group from 4.7 percent to 43.4 percent. The rest of Pearson’s ordinary shares will be purchased by The Economist Group for £182 million.

The deal comes three weeks after Pearson sold The Financial Times for £844 million (approximately US $1.3 billion), all of which CEO John Fallon says will be reinvested to the publisher’s digital education efforts. Following this most recent deal, he reaffirmed in a statement that the company “is now 100% focused on our global education strategy.”

Bloomberg says this deal “effectively effectively ends London-based Pearson’s role in news publishing after more than 50 years.” All eyes will now be on its education efforts, now boosted by an additional $2 billion in its war chest.