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Programming at Pre-primary and Primary Levels: The Pipeline Can Start That Early

Ivan Kalaš, Comenius Univ. Bratislava, Slovakia

Abstract: In my keynote, I will summarize experiences accumulated in our group in developing software interfaces for young and very young children to sustain the development of their computational thinking and problem solving skills. Our deep engagement in this field results from two intertwined facts: first, we believe that computational thinking supported through educational programming is a valid contribution to the general primary and secondary education for all - not because we want to attract young people into university Computer Science programmes, but because it constitutes an important part of so-called skills for the 21st century learning. Second, in our department, we are for more than 20 years involved in designing national curricula for Informatics, and during all that time we are developing new pedagogies - and software interfaces, which would be developmentally appropriate and yet would mediate the potential of programming to education.
In 2008, we managed to establish Informatics as a mandatory subject in Slovakia for every primary student (after establishing it in 2005 at the lower secondary level and in 1985 at the upper secondary level). Since the beginning of that process, we have considered programming to be the substance of the subject. Therefore, we have applied so-called design-based research to better understand what are the fundamental cognitive operations of such programming for young and very young children and what are appropriate cognitive requirements. I will present some of our findings and conclusions resulting from that research and development, which we are trying to exploit in developing our new pedagogy of early educational programming.

Further information: here

Ivan Kalaš is a professor of Informatics Education. For more than 20 years, he concentrates on developing Informatics (Computing) curricula for preschool, primary and secondary stages, developing textbooks and other teaching/learning materials for Informatics and ICT in education. Ivan is also interested in strategies for developing digital literacy of future and in-service teachers and enhancing learning processes through digital technologies.
Ivan works at the Department of Informatics Education, Comenius University, Bratislava where he leads educational research and doctoral school in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning. Ivan is co-author of several educational software environments for children, which have dozens of localizations throughout the world and are being used in thousands of schools.
Since 2008, Ivan is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme. Since 2009, he is a member of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education. In 2010, Ivan conducted an analytical study for UNESCO titled Recognizing the potential of ICT in early childhood education. Since 2013, he is a visiting professor of the Institute of Education, London.

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