Research into inclusive practices in teaching computational thinking to primary school children across Europe
What did we do?
Co-think is a three-year Erasmus+ KA2 project exploring inclusive practices in teaching computational thinking to primary school children. As part of the project Danish, Swedish, Finnish, British and Dutch children take part in simultaneous learnathons and their teachers share practice and co-deliver computer science lessons across the five countries.
So far we’ve had several exchanges, visiting each other’s schools and education centres, as well as our first international learnathon. Pupils and teachers from all the partner countries are invited to complete a challenge based on ideas explored during exchange visits. The children collaborate with their foreign peers through an online blog, giving praise and feedback and discussing their understanding of computational thinking concepts.
In the first Learnathon the children choreographed dance routines using code of their own devising, before passing it on to a partner country to interpret, who then filmed and shared the results. Through this process, children learned about the importance of specificity and clarity in algorithms while the practical, collaborative nature of the challenge meant that all children felt included.
We have also accompanied teachers on a Netherlands visit to learn more about how technology is used in Dutch schools, including programming an educational robot who could watch, speak, listen and even dance Gangnam style! A visit to Tampere revealed that Finnish schools focus on problem solving, developing logical skills and digital competence within what they call ‘transversal competencies’ as part of every subject. They have adopted a blend of teaching computational thinking through both a cross-curricular and a single subject approach linking specifically to maths.
What difference is it making?
In the first learnathon it was particularly exciting to see a high level of engagement from girls in an activity that combined two subjects which, according to the 2017 girlguiding survey, are perceived as the least female orientated: PE and computer science. It is the aim of the Co-think project to help promote the inclusion of underrepresented groups in computer science and to show students that the cultural expectations they’ve grown up with don’t have to limit their choices in this exciting subject.
Find out more
Read blogposts about Co-Think:
- ‘Everyone is figuring out computer science’: Finland’s take on computational thinking in schools
- Linda Liukas, Hello Ruby creator, on computational thinking and the coding backlash: London Connected Learning Centre podcast episode 8
- How do we compare? European teachers’ views on London primary schools