Lawson, H. W. (1987). Challenges and Directions in Computers and Education. Technical Report LiTH-IDA-R-87-21, Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, Sweden. (bibtex),
Abstract: Computer systems, the problem solving approaches made possible in conjunction with this revolutionary technology as well as the wide spread application (usage) of computer systems are all a permanent part of the culture of modern society. Therefore, there exists both a vested interest as well as a responsibility to provide computer culture education at varying levels of the educational system. Unfortunately, a clear, well bounded, definition of the computer related discipline(s) has not, as yet, been developed. The bodies of knowledge in the disciplines has followed the turbulent expansion of the computer industry. Further, the impact of computer technology upon the entire educational system (from higher levels down to primary and even at preschool levels) is the subject of great highly "localized" debate amongst educators, policy makers, parents and other interested parties.A search is now ongoing in many parts of the world to define an "essence" or "core" of computer related discipline(s). Thus, one could ask the question: "How can meaningful (well distributed) computer related education be established at lower levels of the educational system when we do not have an established consensus of the relevant discipline(s) at higher levels?". Obviously, we are in need of a "global" strategy that will guide the distribution of computer relevant knowledge amongst the various levels of the educational system.This process of distribution which has taken centuries in other classical disciplines should proceed for computer related disciplines based upon a professional consensus of content. Therefore, it is extremely important that professionals, especially educators, express their personal views on these strategic matters.The purpose of the current paper is to express some personal views related to identifying the challenges and potential directions with respect to a global view of computer related education. In addressing the challenges, we shall consider some important historical developments, the nature of learning, the current set of computer related disciplines, the (past, present and future) challenges, the fundamental problems in mastering computer related knowledge as well as the relationship to other disciplines. In addressing the directions, we first consider one definition of an "essence" or "core" of computer related disciplines and build further upon these notions. We address the proper role of programming, computer related problem solving approaches as well as the utilization of analogical reasoning and learning by example. Further, we consider the "architecture" abstraction, introduce a common denominator paradigm that can be applied in all computer related disciplines, comment on the use of analogical reasoning in relationship to the paradigm and discuss the implications for primary and secondary education. Finally, we seek a deeper meaning of the evolving computer culture in respect to the evolution of cultures in general.
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