In the past few years numerous research centers have been built and a large quantity of courses were designed for computational thinking (CT) education and research. These centers are located all over the world and each has a slightly different focus. Courses are offered both in the form of online and offline mode. In this article, we will introduce you to the concept of CT and a few of these centers.
To explain the concept of CT we first need to answer the question why CT is becoming such a popular term. As can be observed from our daily life, our world is becoming more and more digitized, and presumably, it would be of vital importance for people to learn how to better adapt themselves in such an environment, both for now and the future. To help people resolve themselves to a digitalized society, effort has been made worldwide by various institutions, communities, organizations by offering education on digital science, organizing events to disseminate new technologies, and so on. The aim of these activities, should not be only to enable people to make use of technologies, but also change people’s mindset and allow them to participate in creating something with the technologies at hand. Under such assumptions, computational thinking is considered one of the fundamental tools to achieve such goals.
Computational thinking has gained numerous attention since Wing (2006) proposed it, and it is becoming one of the most mentioned terms in digitalization education and the education of digital skills. There has been a huge amount of research conducted to reveal the mystery of CT. However, there is no agreed-upon definition yet. Denning (2019), in his book, acclaimed that this is nothing new but thinking ways adapted to computers. Indeed, if we look back to the wisdom of our ancestors thousands of years ago, the fundamental logic for problem-solving still shares quite some similarities with that of today’s. It is found that CT is commonly accepted as a set of problem-solving methods with which the solution can be executed by computers (Wing, 2006; Denning, 2019; Valerie & Chen & Jodi, 2017). This is more or less the same as what Denning (2019) introduced.
Large quantities of research have been done, defining CT as a set of problem-solving tools, and centers for computational thinking education and research are slowly emerging over the last decade. Some examples of these are:
- Exploring Computational Thinking from Google, being categorized under the Computer Science in Google for Education
- A platform presenting the links for organizations with which lesson materials and other resources can be integrated to support learning and teaching CT. With the following link, you may find the links to the organizations for more resources: Exploring Computational Thinking
- Computational thinking from Microsoft Education Blog
- CT is one of the tags which is added to blogs released from Microsoft Education Blog. Different activities that Microsoft was involved in can be found there. It should be mentioned that the last blog was posted in May, 2017. If you are wondering what happened at Microsoft from 2016 to 2017, this link could provide you with more information: Computational thinking from Microsoft Education
- Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie Mellon
- Information of research activities, seminars and symposia from the Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie Mellon. Work from Jeanette Wing and her team members from 2007 to 2012 are gathered on this website: Center for Computational Thinking
- The Center for Learning Computational Thinking (CLCT) at the University of Southern Denmark
- This interdisciplinary center was established rather recently compared to the aforementioned one with four goals. To begin with, study topics ranging from CT pedagogies and CT as a tool in education to support CT learners and educators. Furthermore, organize various activities and events to establish courses for teachers at different education levels. A third goal is to work on integration of CT into different studies provided by the University, for those that need more expertise in CT. And last but not the least, to empower the whole society to a higher level of CT competence. More information can be found at: The Center for Learning Computational Thinking (CLCT)
- Center for Computational Thinking and Design at the Aarhus University in Denmark.
- Similar to the previous one, this is also an interdisciplinary center located in Denmark, focusing on all levels of education. Further information on publications, people, projects, and activities can be found at their website: Center for Computational Thinking and Design.
As can be seen from the centers listed above, some are established a decade ago while some are newcomers. The centers listed here are independent ones, there might also be those which are dependent on other education centers that I missed in my search. It is definitely worthwhile to discover more of them and build connections to seek for more cooperation opportunities and establish a diverse and inclusive computational thinking research community.
If your center is working on CT and you would like to connect, don't hesitate to contact Xiaoling Zhang.
Jeannette M. Wing. 2006. Computational thinking. Commun. ACM 49, 3 (March 2006), 33–35. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/1118178.1118215
Peter J. Denning & Matti Tedre (2017). Computational thinking. MIT Press Essential Knowledge series.
Valerie J. Shute, Chen Sun, Jodi Asbell-Clarke (2017). Demystifying computational thinking. Educational Research Review 22, 142-158. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2017.09.003.