Saturday, 5 November 2016

How to be an Unplugged Artist

A recently released book Teaching Computing Unplugged in Primary Schools  edited by Helen Caldwell (University of Northampton) and Neil Smith (Open University) has a number of interesting chapters by authors who are passionate about how computing is taught in schools. The central theme is unplugged activities, without using computers, but still teach the fundamental of computational thinking.

Ok, confession time. I co-wrote, along with Katharine Childs (Code Club), Chapter 3 Artists so I am biased here, but I believe in the central theme of Unplugged Computing. Computing, and Computational Thinking in general,  is not just about programming and using a computer (though using computers and  programming are vitally important to Computing) but it is also about many other things including problem-solving, being creative and working collaboratively.

Chapter 3 is about linking these computational thinking ideas to produce visual art, by applying computing principles including  repetition, following and refining algorithms, and abstraction. The chapter also looks, how these links have already being made, with examples such Sol Le Witt where not all the work that was produced by the artist himself, but some by others following his written instructions - in other words an algorithm. There is even a game Thomas's Tangles

The other chapters make links with areas such as Robots, Musicians, Explorers, Magicians, Gamers, Cooks and Scientists.

References

Barr, D., Harrion, J., and Conery, L. (2011) Computational Thinking: A Digital Age Skill for Everyone Leading and Learning with Technology, ISTE, March/April 2011 [accessed via http://www.csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CurrFiles/LLCTArticle.pdf on 26/12/2015]
Barr, V. and Stephenson, C. (2011) Bringing Computational Thinking to K-12, ACM Inroads, Vol 2. No 1, pp 48 - 54 [accessed via http://csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CurrFiles/BarrStephensonInroadsArticle.pdf on 26/12/2015]
https://doi.org/10.1145/1929887.1929905
Computing at School (2013) Computing in the National Curriculum: A guide for primary teachers [accessed via http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/CASPrimaryComputing.pdf on 13/3/2016]
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DfE: Department for Education (2013) National Curriculum in England: computing programmes of study
Freedman, J. (2015) Cycloid Drawing Machine [online] URL: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1765367532/cycloid-drawing-machine accessed on 3/3/2016.
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Wing, J. (2011) Computational Thinking - What and Why The Link - News from the School of Computer Science, Issue 6.0, Spring 2011 [accessed via http://www.cs.cmu.edu/sites/default/files/11-399_The_Link_Newsletter-3.pdf on 26/12/2015]
Liukas L (2015) Activity 7 The Robots Hello Ruby - Adventures in Coding, New York: Feiwel and Friends, 94-97.
Schofield, S (2016) Generative Artworks [online] URL: http://www.simonschofield.net
Turner S (2016) 3 'Art' Scratch Projects [online] URL: http://compuationalthinking.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/3-of-my-scratch-projects-for-week.html accessed on: 12/3/2016.





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