“Why would you want to learn computer science? It’s so you can solve problems in other domains.” – Mark DeLoura, USA
Here at Daily Edventures, we’ve talked for years about the vast potential for gaming in the classroom. Games engage kids with activities they already love, and when used properly, have the ability to teach critical skills like computer science, skills that can turn into exciting and lucrative careers.
For Mark DeLoura, the connection between computer science and gaming is undeniably strong. A leading figure in the global video game industry, DeLoura has worked at some of the largest game companies in the world, including Sony and Nintendo, and served as Editor-in-Chief of Game Developer Magazine .
As a former Senior Advisor for Digital Media for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (his term ended in 2014), he focused on applying video games and related technologies to address societal challenges, promote education, encourage health and fitness, and explore citizen science. His Level Up Report newsletter highlights the latest developments in 21st century learning through games, coding and making.
When DeLoura participated in a recent event at Microsoft that brought education thought leaders together to explore innovation in the classroom, he took time to share his thoughts on how we can better integrate computer science in schools.
“Here in the U.S.,” he says, “there are not really rigorous standards around computer science (in education), and because the school systems are driven from the states, we find that each state has its own particular angle on computer science. The conversation right now is… how do we get from a point where there aren’t really rigorous standards, to a point where every state has some definition of what computer science in the classroom means?”
To get to that point, DeLoura believes we must expand our view of what computer science actually is, and more important, what it can do.
“When I think of computer science, what I think of is computational thinking,” he told me. “When you’re talking about the rigor around computer science, it’s the thinking part that’s important to teach in a classroom. What does that mean? It’s being able to take a problem that’s really complicated, break it apart into its component pieces and figure out how to address those component pieces such that you accomplish an overarching goal, and you’ve done it in a logical way…”
DeLoura, who has been a strong voice and advocate for the importance of computer science in education, believes that focusing on results is the key to not only getting kids interested in the subject, but to making it work in an educational setting.
“I always think that when you’re talking about computer science, what’s important is to not focus on computer science, but to focus on the results,” he says.
In the end, whether it’s through games like Minecraft or problem-solving around climate change, DeLoura believes that computer science and computational thinking will play a critical role in ensuring that today’s students are prepared for their next steps.
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Mark DeLoura.
Seattle, Washington, USA