Volume 11 Issue 1 (2022)

Apps to Promote Computational Thinking and Coding Skills to Young Age Children: A Pedagogical Challenge for the 21st Century Learners

pp. 7-13  |  Published Online: March 2022  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2022.111.1

Stamatios Papadakis

Abstract

Background/purpose – At the beginning of the 21st century, Computational Thinking (CT) and coding were typically considered part of secondary education programs, focusing on programming and algorithm development. The early childhood classroom was not expected to find students who developed coding skills. Nevertheless, as has been the case lately, CT and coding have been characterized as fundamental skills of the 21st century, not only for computer scientists but all for citizens. However, through developmentally appropriate technologies, the development of coding skills is increasingly possible, and the result may be the advancement of CT fluency or at least familiarity in young age children. Given the enormous success of smart mobile devices and accompanying mobile apps, the question is whether apps provide the children of preschool and pre-primary school age with opportunities to cultivate their basic coding and CT skills. This study is a review article that presents a brief literature review on the apps that promote themselves that can cultivate CT and coding skills of young students.

Materials/methods – This paper presents a literature review of empirical studies on apps that promote themselves to support young children’s learning of CT and coding skills.

Results – Despite the abundance of 'self-proclaimed educational' apps for children, there is a need for developmentally appropriate apps, specifically designed for young people to promote the development of CT concepts and coding skills in young children's life.

Conclusion – This study contributes to a small but growing body of literature investigating how children process and learn fundamental coding skills from touchscreen devices. The findings of this study provide evidence that young age children can facilitate early STEM learning and foundational coding skills from developmentally appropriate playful learning experiences on smart mobile devices.

Keywords: Mobile applications (apps); computational thinking; basic coding skills; preschool age; pre-primary school age.

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