Supporting Learning Physical Computing Through Design Activities
Abstract: Students and teachers encounter new challenges as Nordic countries, and many other countries decided to implement computational thinking and programming into the compulsory education curriculum. Likewise, universities have modified programmes to respond to the skills required in the future’s digital world. Computational thinking is nowadays a fundamental skill for problem-solving, and to successfully implement it to education, new approaches and methods need to be developed. This paper explored the use of a physical computing platform called Arduino as a means of introducing computational thinking to university students. This study aimed to investigate the challenges that students new to Arduino have when learning physical computing and explore ways to support learning activities. The prototype for this study was a visual support material that eases the challenges and shifts the focus from the process to design. The results were derived from empirical research done in Arduino workshops held in four different universities context to train participants computational thinking and programming skills. Results have implications for the benefits of design activities as a method for teaching computational thinking to university students. Findings show that design activities can provide an enjoyable, meaningful, and more feasible approach.
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