I read article 1, "Computational Thinking: A Digital Age Skill for Everyone" by Barr, Davis and Conery. This article dealt how to best define the idea of computational thinking so that curricula utilizes its concept can be developed for the K-12 setting.
Computational thinking relies on problem solving for complex issues where solution to the problem may be not readily clear, is often open-ended and not quickly answered by the student. The students must come to a solution to a problem by use of creativity and realization of the limits of the tools at their disposal to solve their problem. Student must first break down the problem into smaller parts and then decide how to solve these smaller parts in sequence that solve the larger problem. In solving these smaller bits of the larger problem, student must decide how to use the tools at their disposal to best solve their problem, likely deciding which ways would be most effective and perhaps, let's face it, easiest and quickest, while still accomplishing their set goal. According to the computational learning theory, computers and other electronic tools are essential this problem solving, though I believe computational learning techniques have been used to most-effectively solve large problems for millennia, regardless of the invention of computers. Computers now tremendously expand our toolbox of tools available to solve problems.
It is an excellent idea to use computational thinking to facilitate learning as its concepts closely follow how work is done in the real world. The scenario above closely follows how a problem would be tackled from a very logical, engineering perspective. For example, this is just how we would solve problems at the civil engineering career I held for eight years. We would break our problems down into smaller pieces and come up with a way to solve these smaller pieces in order to solve the larger problem with the tools at our disposal.
Computational thinking appears to be a very powerful concept, as it encourages creativity and autonomy to find a solution to a problem that does not at first appear to have a obvious solution. This concept can allow students to build confidence in their ability to solve difficult problems on without following explicit directions. Solving difficult problems without obvious solution by using the tools available to us is something we do in our adult lives all of the time. All to often, schooling has involved working on things that were to be only solved in the explicit way the teacher demands, such as solving an algebra problem in one way and only that way. This old algorithm describes how someone may work at a low-wage job, such as in a fast food restaurant where burritos and made one way and only that way. Higher-wage careers demand problem solving without explicit directions. Supervisors depend on those under them to solve problems without having to have their hands held. Computation learning follows how higher-wage careers work. I am very supportive of teaching in a way that uses computational learning. Awesome stuff!
Thanks for reading,
Barrl, D., Harrision, J. and Conery, L. (2011, March/April). Computaional Thinking: a Digital Age Skill for Everyone, 38 (1)