Computational thinking & pedagogical playing

Over the last few years, the need to integrate computer coding to formal education has been both entertained and contested within and outside academic circles (Bierend, 2013; Kohli, 2015). The urge of teaching a set of skills deemed as difficult (Missio, 2015; Ray, 2014), has been instrumental for the apparition of tools to teach children the basics of coding, such as digital applications and resources such as board games (e.g., Slavin, 2015). There is another category of tools intended not to teach children how to code, but to introduce them to computational thinking, a skill that is starting to be showcased in popular media as a mindset to be developed before engaging in coding (“BBC Bitesize,” n.d.), and that “can also be used to support problem-solving across all disciplines, including the humanities, math, and science.” (“CTE Google,” n.d.)”. Taking the experience of educational approaches that have seized the affordances of haptic tools to convey complex concepts (i.e., the Montessori method) while trying to address the calls for further research about gamified learning (Banfield & Wilkerson, 2014; Laborda & Bíró, 2014), we will introduce a card game designed and developed at the Digital Literacy Centre in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at UBC to extend the pedagogical potential of an open hardware educational initiative called “little bits” ( We will also describe the process behind the creation of this tool as a way to provide a reference and encourage similar approaches in other institutions.

Peña, E., James, K., & Digital Literacy Centre. (2017). Computational thinking & pedagogical playing. Presented at the Eighth Biennial Provoking Curriculum Conference., McGill University, Montreal.