Tech Days 2017: Broadening Our Look at Technology
by Matt Broughton, Technology Learning Coach
For the first few days in February, kindergarten to grade 9 students participated in our very first YIS Tech Days. Students attended workshops related to technology ranging from creating pinhole cameras to the basics of coding to learning how to create a DIY recording studio.
As a new initiative here at YIS, our aim was to allow students to experience technology in a way that they might not see in their usual classes. This teaser into computational thinking, creation and technology allowed students the opportunity for new experiences that might persuade them to further their inquiry into technology across all disciplines.
With Tech Days, we were very careful to expand the definition of technology. Our students usually think of technology as mobile phones, iPads, computers and other IT based devices. However, we want students to see technology with a wider field of vision, as the use and knowledge of techniques and processes for producing goods and services. Our Tech Days allowed students to work beyond digital based technology and to find passion in solving problems.
We also felt it was important to introduce our students to the idea of computational thinking. Many of our Tech Days workshops allowed our students to think in an algorithmic, computational way. As explained by Dr. Dan Crow, chief technology officer of Songkick, and visiting professor of computer science at Leeds University:
This is not primarily about equipping the next generation to work as software engineers, it is about promoting computational thinking. Computational thinking is how software engineers solve problems. It combines mathematics, logic and algorithms, and teaches you a new way to think about the world.
Computational thinking teaches you how to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequence of smaller, more manageable problems. It allows you to tackle complex problems in efficient ways that operate at huge scale. It involves creating models of the real world with a suitable level of abstraction, and focus on the most pertinent aspects. It helps you go from specific solutions to general ones.*
Our students' experiences with technology and computational thinking does not end with Tech Days. These ideas can be found throughout our curriculum and in after school activities. We look forward to seeing how students will build on this initiative, using technology to tackle the challenges of 2017 and beyond.
*Crow, D. (2014, February 07). Why every child should learn to code. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/07...