The challenge of posing Computational Thinking as a strategy to improve the teaching and learning process is undoubtedly a driving force to discuss the theoretical foundations that support our ideas about Computational Thinking. Therefore, we will analyse the different approaches to Computational Thinking in education.
What elements do they share? What factors characterise Computational Thinking? How can we make them our own within our frameworks for learning and teaching in the digital age? These will be some of the questions we will resolve in this series of articles.
Reference Works in Computational Thinking
For our purposes, the first relevant reference works go back to the 1980s, by Seymour Papert, the original promoter of Computational Thinking. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, you are probably familiar with the programming language “Logo” (the first to be used in classrooms), or his book Mindstorms (Papert, 1980), from which the famous Lego construction and programming kit takes its name. Throughout his life, Papert insisted on the potential of computers to encourage children in a way of thinking and learning on their own education: learning based on the acquisition of knowledge through the manipulation and construction of meaningful objects.
Of course, Papert’s approach was of enormous value, but it was not until 2006, that we find an approach to Computational Thinking that involves a wide variety of cognitive processes, led by Wing. Thus, Wing shows how “Computational Thinking involves solving problems, designing systems and understanding human behaviour, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science” (Wing, 2006, pg. 33).
Based on Wing’s proposal, a great variety of authors will appear who will approach the concept of Computational Thinking, widening the focus beyond code and programming.
If you would like to know more about the evolution of the concept, be sure to look at the article in which we review the latest trends in Computational Thinking.
Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: children, computers, and powerful ideas. Nueva York: Basic Books.
Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33-35. https://doi.org/10.1201/b16812