The research project “Coding@School” investigates whether and how Coding can support teaching methods in which the students play a leading role in creating knowledge, and if, and to what extent, there could be room for Coding even within non-scientific subjects. Coding is not a discipline in itself, which can be inserted sporadically throughout the school year, detached from the various curricula, but a set of methods that can be used along with different subjects (and in different types of schools).
The research project is based on Computational Thinking, which represents its soundest and most fruitful academic reference and is part of a field of studies, ranging from theoretical informatics to pedagogy.
Coding@School will be investigating two aspects in particular:
- The use of formalised languages and anything belonging to “algorithmic thinking”. How, to what extent, and in which kinds of schools can formalised languages be introduced? What limits would there be as regards the students’ ages and level of schooling? What procedures should be used so that formalised languages can favour young people’s cognitive development and learning processes?
- Problem solving. Computational thinking is defined as a structured form of thought to resolve problems. The analysis and structuring of a problem are fundamental logical steps, before formalising the procedures that any performer (whether machine or human) must follow to resolve a problem. Is it possible to apply computational thinking to non-scientific disciplines? Using which methods? Can this way of learning and operating enhance the centrality of the student, and at the same time allow schools to absorb the changes of the knowledge society?
Another sphere of interest, apart from the purely scholastic one, is that of operators in the field, such as training agencies outside schools that offer youngsters the chance to try out coding as well as getting to know the basics of computational thinking. These agencies allow youngsters a freedom of learning that is difficult to find in schools. Is it possible to create forms of collaboration between these non-institutionalised agencies, offering a very specific training, and schools? Does the school curriculum include this kind of learning or should it be modified?