Teaching Computational Thinking to Engineers

2015-04-01T19:12:21Z (GMT) by Lorena A. Barba
<p>The term "computational thinking" became quite popular some years ago with a viewpoint piece at the CACM by Wang (2006), but the term goes back to Papert 10 years before. Wang explained it as the ability to think algorithmically and apply problem-solving computation in other fields. We've been talking about teaching computational thinking ever since. With an interest in reforming how we teach computing to engineering students, I stumbled onto an extension of this idea that defines the pedagogical value of computation. With modern tools for interactive computing (e.g. IPython Notebooks), it becomes possible to learn by computing, to actually create knowledge—similar to what we do in scientific computing to make discoveries, but in education. I will describe how this thinking has been inspiring several educational initiatives aiming at making computing a core pedagogical instrument.</p>