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Unplugged Approaches to Computational Thinking: a Historical Perspective

  • Elisa Nadire CaeliEmail author
  • Aman Yadav
Original Paper

Abstract

In the recent years, there has been a push to engage primary and secondary students in computer science to prepare them to live and work in a world influenced by computation. One of the efforts involves getting primary and secondary students to think computationally by introducing computational ideas such as, algorithms and abstraction. Majority of this work around computational thinking has focused on the use of digital technologies, in particular programming environments (Yadav, Stephenson, and Hong 2017). In today’s highly digitalized world, we often associate computational problem-solving processes with the use of computers. Yet, solving problems computationally by designing solutions and processing data is not a digital skill, rather a mental skill. Humans have solved problems for eons and before anyone even thought about the types of digital technologies and devices we know today. The purpose of this article is to examine the historical route of computational thinking and how history can inspire and inform initiatives today. We introduce how computational thinking skills are rooted in non-digital (unplugged) human approaches to problem solving, and discuss how mainstream focus changed to digital (plugged) computer approaches, particularly on programming. In addition, we connect past research with current work in computer science education to argue that computational thinking skills and computing principles need to be taught in both unplugged and plugged ways for learners to develop deeper understanding of computational thinking ideas and their relevance in today’s society.

Keywords

Computational Thinking Unplugged Problem-Solving Primary and Secondary Education Datalogy Algorithms 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

Author A declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author B declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagen NVDenmark
  2. 2.College of EducationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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