Digital education (from media literacy to computer science) for children (primary school up to grade six)
Digital education is highly important not only because of the continuous developments in information technology but also because of its presence in everyone’s – hence also children’s – daily life.
Digital education or computer science is (at least in North Rhine-Westphalia) yet only taught as an elective subject in middle school grade 8 – 10 and as “Basics in information technology” in grade 5 - 7. There are virtually no offers of such subjects for younger children, although digital education could not start early enough. That means, children should start developing digital competencies and a basic understanding of informatics as early as possible.
The initial point of research regarding this thesis is the question if and how the existing tools can facilitate the development of the following competencies appropriately and what children learn during that process. In this context, digital education or competencies consist of three major parts, the technological view, the application-oriented view, and the cultural view. The target group mainly consists of children in the age of six to twelve years.
The technological view describes the understanding of technologies, such as smartphones, tablets, computers but also software systems.
The application-oriented view describes the way how those technologies are being utilized. The appropriate usage plays an important role in that view.
The cultural view describes both the impact such technologies have on society and the critical review of the continuously developing information technology.
There exists already a variety of tools and educational content aiming at proper teaching of computer science and digital education at primary schools. These are for example:
- IT2School (Univ. Oldenburg) of the “Wissensfabrik”
- CS Unplugged concept
- Primary school modules of the computer science student lab “InfoSphere” at RWTH Aachen University
- Cooperation project „Computer science at primary schools“ by the North Rhine-Westphalian ministry of education and the universities in Paderborn, Wuppertal and Aachen
- First steps in programming with the help of
- the online-platform code.org
- Scratch Junior
- the Arduino Calliope minicomputers
- Several roboters that were exclusively designed for children
- Dash and Dot