Digital competences and computational thinking: preparing children, young people and adults for a digitalized society

02.11.18

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In 2019 and 2020, Nordplus welcomes applications on digital competences and computational thinking preparing pupils, students and adults for the digitalized society. The Nordplus highlight relates to all Nordplus programmes and to all sectors within the field of education and training.

The digital development affects all aspects of society, collectively as well as individually, and brings with it new possibilities as well as challenges. The collecting and sharing of information and data is immense and demands high standards for security and protection and wise use and dissemination of information. Market places are globalised and the work places change their organisation and all - young and old - must adapt and become both a competent user and a critical consumer. Moreover, the development of artificial intelligence gives the concept of automation quite another dimension.

The field of education plays an important role in preparing children, young people as well as adults for the challenges and possibilities in an increasingly digital society.

Focus on the pupils, students and adults

The Nordplus highlight takes a specific focus on the pupils, students and adults and the development of their digital competences, rather than on the mere use of digital equipment in teaching and delivery of education on digital platforms.

This involves the societal aspects of the digitalisation, i.e. understanding how digitalization affects individuals, social life and society at large, and digital literacy as well as concrete digital competences in terms of abilities to use digital tools, a critical approach to digital tools, programming and coding, creation of digital solutions and digital communication and collaboration.

“Computational thinking” is the most recent concept in this field and refers to the thinking involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution in a way that a computer can carry out. Moreover, it points to the abilities to break down a problem into smaller manageable parts, to recognize patterns, to extract basic principles behind patterns and to design algorithms.

The Nordplus highlight also includes the teacher education programmes and the pedagogical dimension of teaching and education, whether digitalisation is integrated into the existing subjects or is introduced as new subject or as a cross curricula strategy.

The highlight is for all Nordplus programmes and all sectors of education and training

The Nordplus highlight on digitalisation supports the initiatives taken in recent years in the Nordic countries with the aim to integrate digital competences in national curricula for compulsory education.

In context of the Nordplus programmes, the theme relates to all Nordplus programmes and all sectors. The theme is relevant to address in context of many of the HE-programmes in general and the ICT-related programmes, the teacher education programmes and the further education of teachers in particular.

For the adult education and learning area, the aim is to secure the basic skills of employees for use of digital tools, media and resources required for the solving of specific work tasks. And more generally, it is the aim to strengthen adults´ conscious use of digital tools including digital literacy and knowledge of basic IT security. Thus, the theme would be relevant to address in context of e.g. formal adult education on primary-secondary level, continuing vocational education and training and the liberal education sector for the citizens at large. Likewise, the theme would be relevant to address in context of the day care/kindergarten sector.

The highlight theme can be addressed in different ways, and it is up to the institutions and organisations applying Nordplus to determine their particular take on the theme according to their sector, specific educational context and target group.

Reports on digitalisation and computational thinking

Find here reports on digitalisation and computational thinking:

-        And a video from a eTwinning project from Sweden: NAO robots as Lucia

Examples of granted projects for inspiration

Find here examples of granted Nordplus projects reflecting the highlight on digital competences and computational thinking:

CULTURALLY DIVERSE APPROACHES TO LEARNING MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTATIONAL THINKING

Coordinator: Vilnius University (LT)
Partners: University of Turku (FI), Universitetet i Bergen (NO); KTH Royal Institute of Technology (SE), Klaipeda Gedminu progymnasium (LT), Nummenpakan primary school (FI).

Application Summary
Mathematical skills as well as Computational Thinking are both learned and taught in different ways in the Baltic region. The goal of this project is to better understand this diversity, and to utilise that knowledge to build flexible multi-cultural support for learning mathematics and informatics using e-learning platforms. Culturally diverse and inclusive approaches to mathematics and informatics learning online contribute to the democratic goals of enhancing access to education and technical careers. In addition the project contributes tools that can be used to help with re-skilling of recent immigrants and other people looking to find a productive career in the Nordic and Baltic countries. To achieve its aims the project builds on existing tools and initiatives at Turku University of Technology, Finland (VILLE) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (http://mattecoach.se/#/research) and uses tasks developed by Vilnius University.

NPHZ-2018/10063:Nordplus Horizontal 2018, allocation: 49 990 EUR.

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GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN-DAMENTAL IT SKILLS - MAIN PROJECT

Coordinator: Nord University (NO, University)
Partners: Reykjavik University (IS), Aalborg University (DK), Steinkjer Montessori (NO), DigiPippi (DK), Coding Pirates (DK), Steinkjer videregående skole (NO), Game Industry representative (SE), Steinkjer Ung­domsskole (NO), Findeed Oy (FI), Fjolbrautarskolinn i Breidholti (IS), Taekniskolinn (IS), Nord Girl Network (NO), Centre for gender equality - Norway (NO), South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (FI).

Application Summary
This project aims to increase the proportion of female students in creative IT studies at University level. This includes focus on the integration of young women with diverse backgrounds, such as refugees and immigrants. This project is a natural sequel to a pre-project that received 1 year funding through Nordplus Horizontal last year, that aimed to initiate a network of participants and find approaches to increasing the proportion of female students in creative IT studies. By now, the participants have had about half a year to build a network and try out approaches for increasing the proportion of female (and other gender) students in creative IT studies. The pre-project has also made evident the need to consider diverse backgrounds.

Universities are important gateways to the industry. We collaborate closely with secondary schools (focusing on the upper secondary level) as well as gender equality centers and representatives of the industry.

The project arranges workshops and thematic events in secondary schools that aim to a) increase the interest of young women in creative IT-studies and b) to increase the self-efficacy of young women within these disciplines. This will also enhance awareness regarding the importance of equal gender representation in these areas, on the secondary school level. We hope that this focus will inspire more young women, including those with diverse backgrounds, to apply for university studies within creative IT studies, thus contributing to integration and more balanced gender proportions amongst university graduates – leading to more balanced gender proportions in creative IT industries.

NPHZ-2018/10122: Nordplus Horizontal 2018, allocation: 56 250 EUR.

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SCISKILLS 2.0

Coordinator: Science Centre AHHAA Foundation (EE, Foundation) 
Partners: Teknikens Hus (SE), IS-University of Iceland (IS)

Application Summary
SciSkills is a trilateral collaboration project between Estonian, Swedish and Icelandic partners.The project is carried out by Science Centre Teknikens Hus from Sweden, Science Centre AHHAA from Estonia, and the University of Iceland, all of which are institutions involved in offering further training to teachers and communicators of science on the methods of using informal education settings to support formal education goals.

It is an innovative project where the partners will work together and share ideas and develop a pilot teacher training. The idea is to use and share previous knowledge from teacher trainings and programs and add new ideas to develop this new training project, SciSkills. This is a challenge because many teachers have never worked with programming. There are several possible options to work with very young children for example with materials like Blue-Bot, Bee-Bot or programs like Scratch Jr up to older students with, Kojo, Quirkbots, Mindcraft, 3D creations, raspberry pi, Arduino etc., to let pupils develop new skills connected to computational thinking, coding and programming.

3 educational developers and 1 administrative staff from each partner institution will take part of the project. The project aims to provide exchange of knowledge and experiences, work together to develop new teacher training modules and test it in each country as a one-day pilot teacher training, and finally share knowledge and lessons learnt from the pilots. Another aim is to use ideas from teacher training to develop short programs for school groups and the general public in the premises of the three consortium partners.

NPHZ-2017/10117: Nordplus Horizontal 2017, allocation: 33 080 EUR.

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FROM LEGO PLAY TO FUTURE CHOICE

Coordinator: Valka Janis Cimze Gymnasium (LV, Upper secondary school) 
Partners: Oulu Vocational College (FI), Jarnakraschool Lund (SE).

Application Summary
The current project “From Lego play to future choice” activities are planned for the participants to improve education quality in their school, include career education in all age groups. While participating in robotics, electronics and programming group’s students will develop their skills, they will start thinking more creatively, be able to cooperate successfully, solve problems and make decisions.

The three partners represent education of different levels and different age groups in Baltic area and in Nordic countries. Sharing experience will enrich participants with new ideas to improve study environment and the content of education.

The coordinator is Latvia – Valka Jāņa Cimzes Gymnasium; partners: Oulu Vocational College – Finland, Jarnakraskolan Lund – Sweden.

The target group is varied: administration, teachers of IT, robotics, electronics, class teachers who carry out career education at school and students aged 6 – 20.

There are 2 kinds of mobilities: teachers exchange and student exchange. During the exchange the teachers share methods of teaching experience in project themes, succession in education in their countries. Students will learn entrepreneur experience, visiting IT companies thus gaining experience how to bring school closer to real life and job market requirements, promoting choice of career in due time.

Students of different age groups will acquire new skills in robotics, electronics and programming with the help of different activities – elementary and primary students up to the age of 12 (Latvia – Sweden) will cooperate in e-Twinning exchanging results, methods, ideas.

Senior students aged 13 – 20 (Latvia – Finland) will experience exchange which means accommodation in families.

Dissemination of the results will take place in seminars and workshops enabling colleagues to gain new experience, competences, ideas and contacts in all the involved partner countries. Project activities will be reflected in Facebook, e-Twinning and Twin Space will be created.

In the process of cooperation we shall strengthen Nordic and Baltic state language and culture understanding thus leaving impact on students and teachers’ personal development.

NPJP-2018/10018: Nordplus Junior 2018, allocation: 39 800 EUR.

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COLLECTIVE DREAMING: EXPERIMENTAL INTERACTION DESIGN COURSE FOR NON-ICT AUDIENCES

Coordinator: Tallinn University (EE, University) 
Partners: Aalborg University (DK), Aalto University (FI), Reykjavik University (IS), Uppsala University (SE).

Application Summary
Over the past three decades we have witnessed shifts, connections, and re-framings in just about every area of interaction design: how it is done, who is doing it, for what goals, and what its results are. These changes show shifts: 1) From designing things to designing interactions, first on micro-level and lately on a macro level; and 2) From designing for people to designing with people and very recently, to designing by people. The proposed Experimental Interaction Design module is about empowerment and a new wave of digital literacy. Possessing the knowledge, skills and attitude to use our digital environment is no longer enough, we need to be able to shape it.

The module targets all sorts of non-ICT professionals and higher education students and brings interaction design topics to new but highly interested audiences. Examples include, but are not limited to, service providers, communicators, health professionals, educators, architects, designers, artists, actors. Upon completion of the module, these professionals and higher education students will be able to conceptualize and prototype digital artefacts ranging from simple web-based services and small applications to wearable computing solutions and public space installations.

This is a 4 credits module, brought together, delivered, and hosted on rotation, by all partners. The module will be offered in summer to regular and visiting students of the hosting institution as well as to the targeted professional audience.

NPHE-2018/10305: Nordplus Higher Education 2018, ENACT Network, allocation: 28 000 EUR.