The world is changing, and we’re all living in it. Technology is advancing faster than ever, and our children are growing up surrounded by it. This makes them digital natives—they’re comfortable with technology and have the innate ability to learn how to use it. Still, they don’t necessarily have the skills required by today’s rapidly evolving workplace. As parents, educators, and employers, we must ensure that we equip our kids with these skills to thrive in this new reality.
As we confront our growing technology deficit, students need computer science.
As we confront our growing technology deficit, students need computer science. Computer science teaches critical thinking and creative problem-solving, which are abilities that will be increasingly relevant in our future economy. A recent study by McKinsey estimates that the United States could add $500 billion to its annual GDP if it were to develop more workers with technical skills such as coding and design. That’s why many colleges have begun offering free online computer science courses; these courses are available even to students who do not attend those schools.
Why is learning how to do hard things important?
Learning to do hard things is essential because it allows you to solve problems. The ability to solve problems is something we all need in our personal lives and our day-to-day work lives. Solving problems helps us improve as people, builds resilience for when life throws us a curveball, and can be used by anyone. Ask yourselves these questions: How do we teach young people how to do hard things? And why are these skills so essential?
Digital literacy through computational thinking
Computational thinking is a set of mental habits that help us reason about problems and make sense of the world. It’s a way of thinking that you can use to accomplish more in less time—and be happier while doing it.
Computational thinking is a way of problem-solving. It’s not just a set of tools and techniques; it’s also an attitude toward solving problems and creating things that matter more than knowing what tools or techniques to use. Computational thinking means not being afraid to try new tools when old ones don’t work.
Computational thinking is a way of learning: not just memorizing facts but understanding concepts through practice, trial-and-error, collaboration with others who have different perspectives than yours (this will challenge your preconceptions), etc. Computational thinking requires critical analysis while remaining open-minded because there are always multiple points of view on anything. We must embrace our whole mind and diversity across disciplines as part of our quest for knowledge!
The first step in creating an effective, research-backed program is to start with a problem that needs solving. This can be personal or professional, but it must be something that matters to you and your organization.
Once you’ve identified the problem you want to solve, try to understand what causes it. Once you know what causes the problem, think about how people try to solve it now—what approaches are currently being used? How well do those approaches work? Why do some people succeed while others fail?
Now comes the fun part: brainstorming solutions! Be creative; don’t limit yourself by thinking too narrowly about possible solutions (e.g., “we need more funding”). Think outside of the box and consider what resources might already exist within your organization or community (e.g., existing programs or partnerships) and new ones that could help tackle this issue. Having multiple potential ideas will allow us, later on, to evaluate them against each other using criteria like cost-effectiveness and sustainability. However, keep in mind that there are no wrong answers at this point. The point is for us to learn more about how competency-based education models could potentially impact professional development initiatives compared to traditional approaches, such as seminars or workshops offered in conventional classroom settings!
Learn more about tools for integration in your classroom
If you are ready to dive into online learning, check out Khan Academy, Code.org, Coursera, and edX (and its sister platform Udacity). These sites offer free interactive content that people can use in the classroom or at home. They also include various materials:
- Math concepts like geometry
- STEM topics like biology and chemistry
- Business concepts like marketing and finance
- Humanities topics such as history and literature
- Arts topics like music theory and art history
In addition to these courses being available online—usually in short videos—some platforms also have extensive practice tests so that students may be prepared for tests at the K12 or college level.
Integrating computer science and online learning resources into the curriculum can make a difference in learning.
As a teacher, you know that it’s important to integrate technology into your classroom. But what else can you do? A great way to ensure students learn key concepts is by integrating computer science and online resources into the curriculum.
In the 21st century, we live in an increasingly digital world where technology plays a central role in our lives. It’s essential for students to understand how computers work and how they can use them creatively—not just as consumers but also as creators who build their own programs with code. Computational thinking will teach students how to solve problems through multiple approaches (instead of just one), which will set them up for success later in life, regardless of their career path.
There are many tools available on the Internet for integrating computer science into your classroom curriculum: Khan Academy has videos covering everything from arithmetic operations through quantum physics; CodeHS provides free interactive lessons designed specifically for middle schoolers; Code Club offers free programming clubs at schools across America; Kano provides kits that help kids build their own computers while learning about hardware architecture and software development—all within an hour-long assembly time frame!
If you’re interested in learning more about the role of technology in education, I’d love for you to check out my free resources. I also have a free online course in development on how to integrate computer science into your classroom. If you’d like to be a beta tester, please get in touch with me.