1 Goethe University Frankfurt (GERMANY)
2 Utrecht University (NETHERLANDS)
3 Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (SLOVAKIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 7376-7383
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.1495
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
The digital transformation has affected us and our daily life in the last years in ways we could not imagine. Although the generation of digital natives is exposed and sometimes uses modern technology excessively, they do not automatically develop sophisticated digital competencies. However, as a consequence of the digital transformation, the development of so called 21st century skills and competencies is crucial for the participation in a rapid changing world and of course the corresponding job market. Computational Thinking (CT), as one of those skills, is often described as a way of solving problems from the perspective of a computer scientist. The formulation of a given problem in a form such as an algorithm that is easily readable for other humans or a machine is one of its core aspects. Even with various different approaches of embedding CT in formal education all over Europe still many problems can be observed. The availability of corresponding information technology varies considerably, making the teaching of digital skills such as CT difficult or even impossible. The socioeconomic status is unfortunately a strong predictor for CT-skills, a digital divide can be observed. But even with appropriate hardware and tools at hand, the successful implementation of CT in the curricula requires support for in-service teachers. Trainings and materials should be provided to offer them the possibility to learn about and deepen their understanding of CT. A platform to share best practice examples amongst peers would also present the opportunity of creating a corresponding community.

Within the Erasmus+ project “Computational Thinking Learning Environment for Teachers in Europe” (<Colette/>, project duration: 2020-2023) seven organisations from five different countries (Germany, Slovakia, Netherlands, France, Austria) are involved. We want to address the aforementioned needs by designing and developing a learning environment to foster CT independently from the students’ or school’s socioeconomic background. Following the Bring-Your-Own-Device-approach, the students will be able to solve assigned tasks on their smartphone. It is therefore not necessary to buy or use additional hard- or software to include CT in regular lessons. Furthermore, so-called Generic Tasks will provide teachers with good-practice examples fostering the different aspects of CT. The learning environment will therefore offer a low-threshold opportunity both for teachers and students to engage in CT.

In this article, we describe the underlying design principles of the learning environment leading with the aim of providing a low-threshold possibility to learn and apply CT both for students and teachers. We present task formats which will be included in the learning environment aiming at different levels and aspects of CT. For some of those tasks targeting especially Algorithmic Thinking Augmented Reality as a new and motivating technology will be integrated and used during the solving process.
Computational Thinking, Algorithms, Augmented Reality, Learning Environments, Erasmus+.