In 2016 Ontario's Ministry of Education released a foundation document for discussion that focused on 21st century and global competencies.
|"What’s new in the 21st century is the call for education systems to emphasize and develop these competencies in explicit and intentional ways through deliberate changes in curriculum design and pedagogical practice." (p. 3)|
The Ministry also released their Framework for Global Competencies that was adapted from the foundation document as well as the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) Pan-Canadian Global Competencies.
This framework identifies the following six global competencies:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship
- Self-Directed Learning
Our experience in high school and elementary classrooms across Ontario lead us to believe that coding and computational thinking activities provide a rich context in which students can explore and develop within these competencies.
Below you will find two of the six global competencies identified in the framework – Self-Directed Learning and Collaboration. Check out this past article highlighting the first two of the six global competencies listed above.
Accompanying these competencies is an explanation of how the context of coding, and associated classroom activities, can help students explore and develop within these competencies.
It is our intention to follow up this discussion with information related to the remaining two Global competencies (stay tuned).
Self-directed learning means: becoming aware and demonstrating agency in one’s process of learning, including the development of dispositions that support motivation, perseverance, resilience, and self-regulation. Belief in one’s ability to learn (growth mindset), combined with strategies for planning, monitoring and reflecting on one’s past, present, and future goals, potential actions and strategies, and results. Self-reflection and thinking about thinking (metacognition) promote lifelong learning, adaptive capacity, well-being, and transfer of learning in an ever-changing world. (From the Framework for Global Competencies).
(From the Framework for Global Competencies)
The Coding Context
Students learn the process of learning (metacognition) (e.g., in dependence, goal-setting, motivation) and believe in their ability to learn and grow (growth mindset)
Seymour Papert, a leading researcher in computers and education, explained that as students program a computer, they are essentially teaching the computer how to think. In doing so, they begin to consider how they themselves think. Students can also consider what they know, and what they need to know, in order to complete a project.
Students self-regulate in order to become lifelong learners and reflect on their thinking, experience, values, and critical feedback to enhance their learning. They also monitor the progress of their own learning.
The nature of programming means that students are constantly being given feedback on their work. They write and run their program, are made aware of errors, and then debug those errors. This constant reiteration becomes a habit and they no longer expect to write a perfect program the first time.
How do they fix them?
Students develop their identity in the Canadian context (e.g., origin and diversity) and consider their connection to the environment. They cultivate emotional intelligence to understand themselves and others. They take the past into account to understand the present and approach the future.
Computer programming and technology are having an impact on all areas of life. The better students understand the pervasiveness of these technologies, and their advantages and disadvantages, the better they can create ethical and accessible software that will improve our lives.
Students develop personal, educational, and career goals and persevere to overcome challenges to reach goals. They adapt to change and show resilience to adversity.
Careers in STEM and CS are expanding and it’s important for students to be exposed to these potential careers.
An understanding of basic programming concepts will also help in other “non-STEM” and “non-CS” fields, that are impacted by these technologies.
Students manage various aspects of their life: physical, emotional (relationships, self-awareness), spiritual, and mental well-being.
The act of coding involves physical interaction with a digital device. Allowing students to closely examine the relationship they have with digital devices allows them to be aware of the impact these devices can have (both positive and negative) on their lives.
Collaboration involves the interplay of the cognitive (including thinking and reasoning), interpersonal, and intrapersonal competencies necessary to participate effectively and ethically in teams. Ever-increasing versatility and depth of skill are applied across diverse situations, roles, groups, and perspectives in order to co-construct knowledge, meaning, and content, and learn from, and with, others in physical and virtual environments. (From the Framework for Global Competencies)
(From the Framework for Global Competencies)
The coding context
Students participate in teams by establishing positive and respectful relationships, developing trust and acting co-operatively and with integrity.
Coding activities in the classroom often involve a natural setting for collaborative work. Students will seek out solutions from classmates or are willing to share new techniques, tips and tricks that they have learned on their own.
Students learn from and contribute to the learning of others by co-constructing knowledge, meaning, and content.
Coding activities often elicit comments like “whoa, check this out” or “wow, how’d you do that?”
Students assume various roles on the team, respect a diversity of perspectives, and address disagreements and manage conflict in a sensitive and constructive manner.
Larger coding projects provide a valuable opportunity for collaborative work involving a shared goal.
This realistic and authentic experience can serve as a valuable context for helping students develop important communication and relationship building skills.
Students network with a variety of communities/groups and use an array of technology appropriately to work with others.
Organizations and community groups are influenced by technology and make regular use of software. They often work with software developers to request changes and improvements in programs. Often, they are experiencing problems or efficiency issues that can be solved by computer programs. These provide real-world opportunities for students to consider and think critically about – an opportunity for some computational thinking support.