cMinds on awarenet: a game to learn programming concepts

awarenet has a new attraction, just in time for the new school year in South Africa! The cMinds Project, co-funded by the Life Long Learning Programme of the EU, aims at deploying programming concepts towards the development of critical and structural thinking.

cMinds was presented at Online Educa Berlin, where Anna Wertlen approached the presenter, Hariklia Tsalapata, and the developer of cMinds, Olivier Heidmann, from the University of Thessaly, Greece. It was agreed that cMinds can be integrated into awarenet for the benefit of the South African learners.

The creators of cMinds believe: “Analytical thinking is a transversal learning skill that can help an individual develop experience and excel in wide areas, academic, social, civic, and professional. It facilitates skilled reading, writing, reasoning independently of the

The cMinds Learning Suite

thematic area, problem solving, evaluation of values, and informed decision-making. It helps individuals set goals, develop alternatives, and identify sound courses of implementation.

Despite the applicability of analytical thinking throughout an individual’s lifetime, development of the skill in early life in the context of school curricula in primary schools is not representative of its importance. Current teaching avenues mainly deploy math, which provides a general theoretical background. However, the interest of children in math education may lag behind other subjects as children do not see direct links to everyday life. Interestingly enough analytical thinking is missing from early formal technology education. This is predominantly a result of teaching approaches that follow dry presentations and exercises.  Current teaching practices fail to leverage the inherent link between technology education and creativity, which emerges when children are encouraged to find innovative solutions through brainstorming and problem solving sessions.

Information technology provides a new medium for developing analytical thinking through programming concepts: it is precise, structured, step-wise, and requires the setting of goals, exploration of alternatives, and evaluation of implementation approaches in a typical problem solving, project-based methodological structure. Learning activities that explore programming concepts may serve as complementary tools for developing critical thinking in the context of science education curricula. Finally, the technology offers additional advantages, such as the option of visual solutions that can be tailored to inspire children’s curiosity, promote creativity, and increase motivation.”

We are both proud and happy that awarenet can now offer such high quality educational content. We are looking forward to the feed back from the learners and educators, which we will forward to the developers. The next step will be to integrate a system to credit successful gamers on their profile page, which will be developed in conjunction with the learners and coordinators.

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