After Gary Stager we had two more sessions before morning tea.
Bruce Fuda, Director of Learning Technologies at Gungahlin College, spoke about computational thinking and the need for innovation. “We are living in a world where more and more devices are able to connect to the internet, the Internet of Things.” All of these devices need software to control them and make them useful to the user, which is why we need people to design and create this software, this means job, lots of them! Students need to be prepared for the careers of the future.
He said computational thinking was about being creative and students should be set open-ended questions in which they work together to solve problems. The benefits to students working in this way, in every field, are unimaginable.
Bruce has noticed that students appear to be capable users of technology, but is that enough? Some students appear to be less than capable users, yet technology is all around them and they rely on it in many aspects of their lives. Students need to understand how computers work in order to do more with them in the long run.
He said that the new Technologies curriculum was packed and is daunting for teachers, and it was designed for skills and knowledge. As educators we need to look for authentic learning experiences across all of the disciplines.
Bruce had many excellent examples of computational thinking for students from K to high school. He plugged Scratch at years 3-4 and how creative it was. It also allows students to share their projects on a global level, giving students a huge audience to present their work to.
After Bruce, Martin Levins, Director of Information Technology at The Armidale School spoke about coding and showcasing student work. Martin spoke with great passion about the work his students do and was also incredibly proud of their achievements. His philosophy was also don’t tell them too much, let them discover and figure things out for themselves, something I need to do more of for sure!
His year 4 students are self-driven, even more so than year 9 and 10 students. Students this young are curious, they want to figure out problems and solve them, have these epic wins that they can share with their friends. He played a video of a boy talking through his Scratch game showing some cool insights into game design and programming, although his pronunciation of the world variable (var-eye-able) did raise a few laughs.
There are lots of answers to problems, there is not just ‘The Answer’. Encourage students to find multiple ways to solve a problem. Ask more and set the bar high. The joy of computing is the discovery, solving problems, see what works and what doesn’t.
“Create your inner awesomeness” – Year 7 girl about Scratch. One of the best quotes I heard throughout the entire conference.
Martin also talked about Scratch and the outside, real, physical world. Such as linking up an Arduino. A great resource he showed us was Instructables. His class was able to create a self-driving car, an awesome idea!
His final message was let the kids play, discover, make, do things!