Innovation Room #14 - Digital Skills & Computational Thinking

On November 11 we organized our 14th Innovation Room at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science at Leiden University. 

The theme for the afternoon was 'Digital Skills and Computational Thinking' and the afternoon was kicked off by prof. Marcus Specht on CEL's spearheads and the programme of this afternoon.

Marcus Specht kicked off IR#14

After that it was time to give the floor to our three keynote speakers: Prof. Siu Cheung Kong from the Department of Mathematics and Information Technology from the Education University of Hong Kong; Prof. Marcelo Milrad from the Department of Computer Science and Media Technology at Linnaeus University Sweden; and Dr. Ir. Felienne Hermans, associate professor at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science at Leiden University. 

prof. Siu Cheung Kong

'Play, Think, Code...' 

In his Keynote speech 'Curriculum Design and Professional Development of Programming Education for Computational Thinking Development', Prof. Kong spoke about setting up coding education in 2015 in Hong Kong. 32 Schools were part of the pioneering project back then. During the first four years prof. Kong and his team have learned a lot about introducing teachers to programming education, they have used their experience to further fine-tune their teaching programme. And proudly announced that their programme will continue for another four years in which 168 more schools will join!

Prof. Kong emphasized the importance for students to know and really understand what they were doing when they are learning to code. "Play, Think, Code" are the steps in which small children are taught how to programme.

prof. arcelo Milrad

Where prof. Kong's case displayed a more bottom-up approach, the Swedish perspective prof. Marcelo Milrad presented is more top-down. In Sweden the Government has decided that Digital competence should be in the curriculum of every school. There was however no set framework on how to implement this. In his keynote prof. Milrad discussed how the National Agency of Education together with 16 Higher Education institutions is working on getting this framework together; the results of their courses, lessons learned, challenges and next steps.

Dr. Ir. Felienne Hermans

'You don't become an expert by doing expert things. Why minimal guidance doesn't work...'

The last keynote was given by dr. ir. Felienne Hermans, who talked about her insights in teaching children programming and why she thinks that an exploratory and laissez-faire approach to teaching children programming is not necessarily correct. 

When she started teaching programming clubs for children on Saturday, she discovered that the “We won’t tell you how, you can explore it yourself"-approach many programmers have to teaching programming doesn't really work. With "The Oxford handbook of Reading" as her guide she decided to dive into the world of didactics: How do we teach things? What approaches are there to teaching and could we teach programming in a different way?

After the three key notes there was a short break before continuing the program with the three Case study sessions.

Case study 1 - Dr. Christian Glahn
Future Skills: Targeting Curriculum Innovation 

dr. Christian Glahn

During this session Christian discussed the insights from analyzing course and module descriptions in relation to the EC-JRC’s  DigiComp framework at the Zurich University of Applied Science. His study has yielded interesting insights for understanding the cultural and conceptual views of future skills in the different programs. 
You might be making more use of Digital Skills and Computational Thinking in you curriculum than you think!

Case study 2 - Hans Tonino, Bart Gerritsen and Udo Ouwekerk
Digital Skills: a Dynamic Approach to basic Python programming for the whole Campus

Dr. Ir. Bart Gerritsen

This session showed a new auto-graded, cloud-based solution for teaching Python programming to a range of students with different skill levels. Students take an entry test to see in which part of the programme they can start. In this video by the Digital Skills research group the set up is further explained.

Case study 3 - dr. Teresa Cerratto-Pargman from Stockholm University and Tina Sundberg from AV-Media Kronoberg Region
Programming Education for Teachers: Make IT Happen, Sweden

Tina Sundberg and dr. Teresa Cerrato-Pagman

In this session Tina Sundberg presented the 'Make IT Happen' project; a competence development project aimed at strengthening digital skills in K-12 school in the south-east of Sweden. With hands-on examples she showed how they implemented various activities they organize, reaching 8 municipalities, 400 teachers and 51 schools. The project supports schools in different ways: from helping teachers to design their own lessons to advising on which equipment to buy.

We wrapped up the day with a panel discussion with the keynote speakers and session leaders, to discuss some burning questions posed by Marcus and the audience.

Panel Future of Digital Skills and Computational Thinking

There was a lively discussion with interesting input from the audience! Some key takeaways from the speakers on The future of Digital Skills and Computational Thinking: Teach the teacher - Comfort the teacher - Define the terms - Design on sub-skills, and practice those - Using computational thinking like a language skill - Define Purpose: why are we teaching computer programming?

Thank you for coming to the 14th Innovation Room! We hope to see you again soon, check our calendar for upcoming events.
Find notes and slides of the presentations in the attachments below. More presentations will be added over the course of this week.

We hope to see you next time!

Keynote presentation prof. Marcelo Milrad (35.49 MB)
Case Study 1: Future Skills: Targeting Curriculum Innovation - dr. Christian Glahn (1.46 MB)
Case Study 2: Digital Skills: a Dynamic Approch to basic Pythn programming - dr. ir. Hans Tonino (788.15 KB)
Case Study 3: Make IT Happen - dr. Teresa Cerratto-Pargman and Tina Sundberg (1.92 MB)