Computational Thinking in the Irish Media



I recently gave a presentation at both the ESAI and EdTech conference about the coverage of Computational Thinking in the Irish media.

Here is the abstract and slides from my EdTech presentation.

Complexities of a Computational Thinking Age: Definitional Challenges
  • Colette Kirwan (National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University)
  • Eamon Costello (National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University)
  • Enda Donlon (Institute of Education, Dublin City University)

The “National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study” (2013) report opens with a powerful first sentence announcing that an excellent computing education equips children to “use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world” .

England is not alone in integrating computer science into their primary curriculum: the European SchoolNet report (2015) “Computing our Future” states that there are currently seven European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, UK (England)) where coding is compulsory (at a specific educational level) and mainly provided through an integrated computer course.

Closer to home, the “Action plan for Education 2017” document states that the implementation of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject will start in September 2018, and that the new primary mathematics curriculum will incorporate the development of both coding and Computational Thinking. These recent endeavours to integrate Computer Science into our education curriculum have resulted in the term “Computational Thinking” being used in media and policy documents. But what exactly is Computational Thinking? Is it different from coding and Computer Science? Is it only relevant in relation to these subjects?

The term ‘Computational Thinking’ ’was popularised in 2006 by Jeannette Wing, and like most new ideas its exact meaning and usage is frequently debated (Pappano, 2017) but its definition has implications for how it is taught in Irish schools. How can we teach or integrate this subject into the primary curriculum if we do not have an agreed consensus on both its usage and definition?

This presentation starts with first reviewing how Computational Thinking is defined in the academic literature, according to a systematic literature review. A rationale for using a systematic literature review is given, the methodology outlined and initial findings presented.

The initial findings from a discourse analysis, on the coverage of Computational Thinking in the Irish media, is then presented. In telling the story of Computational Thinking in the Irish media, this paper will add to the evolving debate and policy on this issue by highlighting the popular understanding and context of use of Computational Thinking in Ireland today.

Here is a link to my slides: edtech_Colette_Kirwan

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