November 09, 2017
The Who We Are special issue of Technology and Engineering Teacher (December/January 2017) generated a considerable discussion in listservs and forums as well as during a panel presentation at ITEEA’s 2017 conference. These discussions and conversations are valuable to opening a healthy discourse within the field as different viewpoints and ideas are exchanged. Therefore, we set out to focus on additional topics that could lend themselves to more spirited discussion, resulting in this special issue of TET, which addresses calls for more computational thinking and coding skills in technology and engineering technology classrooms.
Why do we anticipate strong interest and opinions of the ITEEA members? Our field has long been confused with educational technologies. National surveys consistently show that Americans think first of computers when asked to define technology. The development of technological literacy standards demonstrated that computers are but one tool in the use of technologies, rather than its sole definition. Computer programming was once more closely associated with a career and technical education path than with the technological literacy of open-ended engineering design and problem solving. With the greater capabilities and infusion of computer thinking in today’s work world, perhaps it is time for educational leaders to begin rethinking long-held ideas about computational thinking. In this special issue, we present three articles on computational thinking for the purpose of generating discussion, not to advocate for a specific agenda.
The first article examines how computer programming can be infused in elementary mathematics classrooms through rich coding applications, effective training of elementary teachers, and using the applications to bridge learning across all content areas. The second article discusses how computational thinking is a key 21st century skill that should be taught in technology and engineering classrooms. The focus would be on integrating conceptual understanding of computational thinking, rather than a skills-based focus on coding in order to expand the role that technology and engineering play in education. The third article reviews a decision made in Maryland to allow substitution of computer science courses for technology education required credit in high schools. While the article highlights the mismatch between the CS courses and the state definition of technological literacy, the authors nevertheless conclude that computational thinking can be adapted into technology and engineering education where it fits rather than as a wholesale substitution.
We hope you find this special issue informative and insightful when it arrives in your mailboxes and email boxes in late November. As is always the case, we welcome any constructive feedback, which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Loveland, DTE
Katie de la Paz
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