Deconstructing the foundations of the computing curriculum: Computational thinking, Digital literacy, Digital Economy

DATE:  2019
TIME: 13:00-14:00
LOCATION: Sir Alwyn Williams Building, 423 Seminar Room
DESCRIPTION: 

This talk will look at the foundational narratives which have been used to develop and defend a more ‘computer science’ based computing curriculum in the English National curriculum. These are the narratives of ‘computational thinking’, ‘digital literacy’ and ‘digital economy’. This presentation will review each of these areas, deconstructing the internal contradiction of each narrative, and providing an analysis of how the discourse in each area reflects more disagreement than clarity. Specifically, in terms of ‘computational thinking’, the presentation will discuss the contradictorily approaches of Peter Denning and Jeannette Wing, asking whether ‘computational thinking’ is a general skill that can be applied to any situation or a specific skill for solving problems through the application of computational tools and models. In terms of ‘Digital literacy,’ it will look at ‘digital literacy’ as a form of understanding and using information versus using technology directly. Fundamentally in this talk I will make the case that having an understanding of the development of the ‘digital economy‘ is an essential and overlooked aspect of computing education. A digital economy reading of computing education allows us to contextualize knowledge and information in terms young people will relate to in their everyday lives now and in the future. Finally, this talk will touch on how my PhD fieldwork with young people and teachers reflects these areas. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of what might be meant by comprehensive ‘Computer Science Education’ in a Scottish, UK wide or international context.


First published: 19 March 2018