THE teaching of computational thinking and computer science for coding in schools by the Education Ministry is a positive move as it will open up many other avenues to support learning across subjects, both inside and outside the classroom.
“While computational thinking is essential for a learner to go on to develop computer applications, its structured and analytical way of approaching problems is not limited to the study of computer science alone, said head of Google for Education Malaysia, Rahayu Ramli.
She said it can also be used across multiple subjects, be it science, math, the humanities or language classes. .
She added that incorporating computational thinking across the curriculum can also assist students in recognising relationships between the subjects they are learning and in helping to “connect dots” in topics that may otherwise seem unrelated.
“Through this, students may also further develop their problem-solving and higher order thinking skills that can be applied not only in the classroom, but in day-to-day life,” she said.
Rahayu added that this also expands learning beyond rote memorisation, and engages the learner in tackling a topic or finding a solution from different angles and perspectives.
Last Saturday, The Star frontpaged an exclusive report that the Education Ministry is making every effort to teach all schoolchildren the problem-solving skills required for coding, in view of the vast opportunities offered by the digital economy.
In January, computational thinking was made part of the reviewed Standard Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR) for Year One pupils – making Malaysia the first country in Asean to introduce it into the national syllabus.
Students in Forms One and Four will also be allowed to take up Basic Computer Science and Computer Science, respectively.
Parents groups had also welcomed the policy.
While some have questioned whether there is a need for students to learn computational skills at a young age, Rahayu said various skills such as problem solving and critical thinking picked up through the learning process, allowed a student the benefit of experience.
It could further grow and be continuously used as the student advances through school and through more complex topics and projects, she added.
Rahayu also pointed out that learning computer science and computational thinking did not mean that students needed to learn to use devices at all times.
“Technology is still a tool that supports the teaching and learning experience. There are various ways of supporting computational thinking and the learning of concepts underpinning computer science do not necessarily require a screen,” she said, adding that tangible programming is one such method.
This is a learning process that allows students to interact and learn basic coding concepts in a playful and collaborative manner.
An example of this is Project Bloks, which is a research project creating an open hardware platform to help developers, designers and researchers build the next generation of tangible programming experiences for kids, she said.
To support educators looking to incorporate their teaching experience, Rahayu said Google had also provided supporting resources that can be found at https://edu.google.com/resources/programs/exploring-computational-thinking/. – By YIMIE YONG