The University of Newcastle, Australia

Students plug in to Digital Days Out

Friday, 28 October 2016

Earlier this month, a large number Year 6 students plus family members and educators participated in the Digital Days Out (DDO) program that explored the notion of computational thinking and future educational opportunity through analog and digital challenges.

Students interacting with makey makey technology

Dr Elena Prieto from the School of Education helped to get the days going by sensitively sharing her own story of navigating the highly gendered world of mathematics and computational education, while simultaneously discussing the importance and potential impact of working together to address ongoing gender representations in many fields.

The University of Newcastle (UON) partnered with Code Club Australia this year, who joined the event and spoke with family members and educators throughout the days about how to get project-based coding projects over the longer term.

PhD student, Dan Hickmott, led educators and some family members on an introductory session to support them into working the coding curriculum into their existing worlds, both inside and outside the classroom, which is an often exclusive and privileged educational field given the multi-dimensional nature of how ‘access’ operates across the ever shifting digital landscapes.

UON students lead three sessions which were designed to build familiarity with, and practice around, some dimensions of computational thinking, specifically: algorithms, logical reasoning, decomposition, patterns and abstraction.

Other activities included groups of students and family members building chain reaction systems out of everyday items, programming and re-programming low-cost robots, and there was an introduction to cutting edge low-cost devices that gave an authentic glimpse ‘under the hood’ of some digital technologies.

Family members and educators from a number of communities throughout the day joined the online scratch community on their own volition, and even acquired off the web the types of low-cost devices similar to those being used on the day.

Implemented as part of the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education’s suite of widening participation programs, Digital Days Out is designed to provide students with a glimpse of the tools they can use to build the future architecture of our society.

DDO also supports family members and educators with ways they can encourage children to stay engaged with education, and in particular, with coding and computational thinking.

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