Computational thinking ~ really?

I’m a great fan of ISTE, and love to get updates and information about things that are happening. In my email today were a few tidbits that made me stop and think.

Wow, that’s crazy is more like the sentiment that crossed my mind.

The buzz word this time was “computational thinking”.  Perhaps this is a term that is embedded in curriculum frameworks in North America, but I was a little saddened to see thinking in a digital age being described by such a mechanised term. Seriously –  thinking is thinking, and calling it computational thinking seemed to me to reflect that educators are not understanding the immersive nature of  21st century learning environments.

It’s like saying ‘water swimming’ instead of ‘swimming’. How else would you swim except in water?  So in 21st century environments, how else would you facilitate thinking except with the power of technology – that may or may not be ‘computational’ by the way! I do understand the need to still talk about digital age skills, because so many teachers are still struggling with being digital. I really don’t want to  bury 21st century thinking terms like this.

Computational thinking reminds me of the the Hungarian word for computers (when they don’t use the English word, which is most of the time now). A computer is a  számítógép – which literally means adding machine.  See how that shows the origins of the term?  Computational thinking is like an old term for a new idea – one that is actually NOT new at all anymore!

However, the video is good, and has some great ideas. Wish we just didn’t have the term!

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Katherine Squier

Blog ‘o the month, virtually!

After a tweet from Scot Merrick, I discovered that November is definitely the month of fun for me.

This blog has been selected for the the Blogger’s Hut @ ISTE Island in Second Life. This is just so much fun, and a real delight to be featured in the Bloggers Hut. Isn’t it nice to have an international ISTE member added to the monthly list!

So now its time to get into Second Life and vote. Come on in and join the fun.

We’re voting on:

Learning Visions”–Cammy Bean
http://learningvisions.blogspot.com/

“HeyJude”–Judy O’Connell
http://heyjude.wordpress.com/

“Bud the Teacher”–Bud Hunt
http://budtheteacher.com/blog/

“A Piece of My Mind”–Scott S. Floyd
http://scottsfloyd.edublogs.org/

Good intentions win the (Second Life) day!

I love our online technology world!!  This morning I was up and online at 6 am for the ISTE Webinar From Good Intentions to Best Practice: Teaching with Second Life in Middle School.  I was ready to listen to Peggy Sheehy (Maggie Marat) from Ramapo Island talk about her Second Life work – Peggy inspired the Aussie crowd at NECC, so i knew I would be hanging on her every word . The presentation was all about kids researching, building, discussing, creating, exploring and more, with teachers who are taking excellent pedagogy from their classrooms into a virtual world – in which students can extend their understanding and learning in many different subject areas.

Peggy reminded us that teacher preparation is vital. We need to Get Informed: read second life press and forums; read SL education wikis; and belong to SLED – the educator’s email listserve. We need Experience: get a SL account; tour popular places; visit educators spaces for collaboration and join groups; and start to learn to build simple objects. We need to Develop: identify a learning objective; build curriculum with appropriate space!

She explained that we are not looking for extra time in curriculum, but looking for opportunities to move existing curriculum into a space that will engage students in a more powerful way. We still need structure, feedback and quality assessment.  Second Life is an equaliser – reticent students blossom and converse and contribute. It’s the teacher strategies that count!  The skills learned carry right back into the real world classroom, and both students and parents are reporting profound benefits from having a learning environment that incorporates Second Life.

There was a great deal of superb information in this ISTE Webinar. Follow Peggy’s work Ramapo – Suffern Middle School in Second Life

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Magic carpet ride …. to NECC!

If you’ve noticed the new by-line on my blog header then let me fill you in on the source of this. This comes from my guest column Learning is a Multimodal Conversation,” appearing in the Blogger’s Cafè section of ISTE’s December-January issue of Leading & Learning with Technology.

I know some international colleagues won’t have access to download this short column so I’m providing a copy of the article here.

So it seems that ISTE is a bit of theme for me this year…..or more correctly, the NECC conference in San Antonio. I’ve visited ISTE HQ quite a few times, and have enjoyed a warm welcome each time. magiccarpet.jpgI really enjoyed meeting up with Docent KJ Hax (Kevin Jarrett) who took Sue Waters and myself on a fabulous magic carpet ride around ISTE island and beyond. Kevin blogged about this adventure at When Virtual Worlds Collide!

Today I chatted with Clare Lane (Lisa Linn), first on twitter, then a bit of skype chat, and then ended up dropping into ISTE HQ to ‘meet’ her. I stayed at the ISTE social, and had a great campfire chat led by KJHax and his friends.

Meanwhile, I’m busy planning my trip to San Antonio, and am really looking forward to meeting so many of the people from my read/write world.

OH, and I’ll be joining a fabulous group of teacher librarians to present a panel session at the conference. I’m joining with Joyce Valenza, Cathy Nelson, Carolyn Foote, Diane Cordell and Anita Beaman – which will be a bit of magic for me for sure!

That’s what I love about the holidays! When I am back at school I won’t be able to stop in the middle of my day and go and relax ‘in world’ or just launch skye for a quick chat before diving off to the real world shops for some fun and mischief or wandering off to the terrace to do a bit more reading.