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Why is computational thinking a rising trend in high school education?

By Dhrubaa Ghosh,

Computational thinking is an approach being adopted in many schools now. Find out what it means.

Computational thinking lays the foundation for logical troubleshooting, and opens up employment pathways.

Computer literacy is not a buzzword anymore, given that children are exposed to computers at the same time as books. Exposure to machine languages is also happening at school level, though not as part of a prescribed syllabus yet. The unquestioned popularity of coding and programming has made teachers adopt certain analytical approaches in teaching that are usually associated with computing. We will look at one such educational trend a bit closely today.   

What does computational thinking mean? 
Computational thinking is the step that comes before writing a program. Here, a problem is broken down into simple steps following a logic system that a computer can understand. Computational thinking requires us to go into exact details in a step-wise manner, not taking anything for granted, and aiming clearly at the end result. For example, a simple activity like starting up a computer or smartphone actually requires power source, storage, operating system, start-up and default apps, along with sound and display units, all receiving and interpreting the start-up command correctly. Any one component getting the wrong message or not getting it would result in disaster for us.  

How is computational thinking useful in class?  
Computational thinking skills help to not only get a better grip of STEM subjects, but also of language, design and arts. Recent research demonstrated that computational thinking skills are often related to design thinking.  

Students, especially in high school, are also finding it easier to articulate a problem clearly and think logically when teachers follow methods similar to computational thinking steps while delivering a lesson.  

Teachers are also using the step by step approach for high school students since they are already proficient at using digital gadgets, and find work-flows familiar. Online courses in particular, are creating study or skill development modules directly based on computational thinking.  

How is computational thinking beneficial for a student’s future?  
Computational thinking helps students develop skills that are useful for future employment opportunities. While the hard tech skills are very important, the softer skills of reasoning and problem solving are more attractive to employers. Computational thinking lays the foundation for logical trouble shooting, and all employers want that attitude at work.