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Conceptual Understandings and “Big Ideas” of Computing Paul Chandler, Yarra Valley Grammar

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1 Conceptual Understandings and “Big Ideas” of Computing Paul Chandler, Yarra Valley Grammar

2 Deductive Approaches Students are given definition of concepts which are followed by examples, questions and activities which illustrate the concept to be learned and which provide the opportunities for students to practise using the concept or new information.

3 Inductive Approaches Students are provided with a range of experiences which gradually increase their familiarity with new concepts, before attempting to draw these together into a coherent understanding of the new concept.

4 Examples Inductive approach to teaching Insight into “mental models” At this point, a demonstration from Science was performed – dropping 2 balls of different mass from the same height – which one would land first? What does the answers which students give tell us about their mental model

5 Examples Make learners' conceptions of computing (ie what's in their head) the object of study.

6 Based on this diagram, if shown a ‘window’ running either vnc, qemu or recorded session, where would you situate it? How could you tell the difference, and what does the answer tell us about mental models?

7 Once upon a time Once upon a time – exposition Now – much experience, “digital natives” But the “flat earth” model works fairly well most of the time Mental models can be functional but inaccurate You will become ‘unglued’ sometime

8 Probes and Examples We need: Probes to discern mental models Examples which challenge prevailing mental models

9 Our Pedagogy What are the “teaching tactics” of ICT teachers? Aim for a richer approach to teaching “computing” Great Principles of Computing: CS Unplugged: Fluent in IT (FITness):

10 Conceptual Development

11 Looking for Surprising Similarities Menus Layers Mouse operations

12 Patterns and Transferability Which of the these is the most likely way to start the program “Mavis Beacon”? (a) Type “RUN” on the keyboard (b) Move the picture of the typewriter onto the picture of the hard disk (c) Choose “File” from the menu bar at the top of the screen and click “Open” (d) Point the mouse at the picture of the typewriter and click the mouse button once

13 Keeping it interesting Explorer simulator

14 Big Ideas Concepts = Examples/non-examples Logging in Model of the network Passwords Confidentiality Trust Authentication Integrity

15 Where to from here? Develop probes of conceptual understandings Develop teaching approaches which take these conceptual understandings seriously Concept development Surprising similarities Big ideas Great Principles

16 Where to from here? Richer teaching approaches Teach it as if it’s “hard” rather than as if it’s “easy”

17 In Summary “If I had to reduce all of educational psychology to just one principle, I would say this: The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly” (Ausubel, 1968, p. 18).

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