Computational thinking isn’t just a skill people pick up in the classroom; it can also be learned through online gaming. While the games of our past might have left much to be desired in regard to being educational, the games available today are much different.
Video games are no longer purely for entertainment. Games can nurture certain skills, like problem-solving, and some educational games are even meant to teach very specific skills, like coding and programming.
And these games aren’t just for kids. While a lot of games that teach computational thinking are marketed to kids, anyone can play and learn. The primary purpose is to help kids learn more about STEM subjects, but anyone can benefit from the skills these games teach.
Thus, many online games make excellent tools for training employees and teams how to further develop their computational thinking skills — and it’s fun, too.
Why have your employees sit through conventional training workshops that leave much to be desired when they could be more actively engaged and learn faster by playing games that teach them what they need to know?
What is computational thinking?
Computational thinking is a process that involves breaking something down into steps to solve a problem. Instead of just getting straight to an answer, you look at the problem from every angle and think about it in detailed steps to ensure you are arriving at a more accurate answer.
For example, many people know that the sky is blue, but do they know why the sky is blue?
If you look at this from a computational thinking perspective, you can break it down to figure out all the factors involved that lead to the sky being blue — and when you arrive at the answer, you don’t just know that that sky is blue because that’s how it appears, but you know the very specific scientific reason or process that makes the sky blue. And this allows you to know with more certainty that the sky is, in fact, blue.
Computational thinking teaches people to think more in-depth about a problem to ensure they arrive at a better solution or answer. It can be used for everyday situations, like learning how to bake a pie, or for more specific job situations, like figuring out the best solution for customer retention. There is no limit to how, why, or when someone can use computational thinking to arrive at an answer.
Why computational skills are essential in the workplace
In the workplace, computational thinking is essential, especially in today’s digital age. As companies increasingly use more complex systems and are required to solve more complex problems to grow and achieve success, computation becomes critical and central to every activity and innovation.
Computational thinking allows businesses to solve challenges more efficiently and discover new ideas and opportunities. People with advanced problem-solving skills are of great benefit to your teams as they can help you arrive at solutions that might have otherwise been overlooked.
This is because people who are adept at computational thinking have these four key problem-solving skills:
- Decomposition: being able to break big problems down into smaller, more manageable steps;
- Pattern recognition: being able to recognize patterns and how they apply to the problem or solution;
- Pattern abstraction: being able to identify the patterns or details that matter and that are relevant to solving the problem and being able to ignore the details that don’t matter;
- Algorithm design: being able to take what was learned to design a solution or steps that achieve the desired outcome every time.
For example, planning a budget when trying to determine the best ways to combat inflation, requires pattern recognition and decomposition when determining spending habits and price structures and what needs to change.
Using games to improve the computational thinking skills of your employees
Computational thinking can benefit businesses in a wide range of areas, including engineering, healthcare, finance, data science, media, social sciences, and communications and cybersecurity.
And as our culture and technology continue to advance, computational thinking will become even more critical in the workplace. In this digital world, certain business models and processes aren’t going away, they are simply transforming and becoming more technical. This means employees will need to have more technical thinking skills to handle them.
Every company, no matter what their industry is, needs people with computational thinking skills. Data analytics, for example, is used by many companies today to help them research and interpret data to understand performance and where they can improve. And data analytics certainly requires good computation skills.
Even companies that design products for pet services would benefit from having more people capable of computational thinking on their teams. There are constantly new pet care technologies being designed to improve the lives of pets and their owners, which requires technical skills and computational thinking to determine the best solutions or designs for these products.
And what better way to teach these skills than by using online games?
It might seem juvenile, but games are an excellent way to teach a wide variety of skills, especially more complex computation skills. People are more likely to want to learn when the learning is fun and engaging.
Developing good computational thinking skills isn’t necessarily easy, and it can feel harder and seem less interesting when the training methods are more conventional. If your training workshops and seminars involve games, however, your employees are more likely to get excited about the process and will thus be more willing to put the time and effort into learning.
If you are ready to break the mold and help your business and teams grow and learn, online games are an excellent place to start. There are lots of online resources today, like Potato Pirates, that offer educational games to help teach a variety of skills, including computational thinking.
By introducing these games into your training processes, you can create a more engaging work environment that encourages your employees to learn and have fun doing so. And the more fun they have while learning new skills, the more likely they are to continue wanting to grow and improve, which will benefit the growth and success of your company in the long run.
This article is written by Charlie Fletcher, a freelance writer passionate about workplace equity, and whose published works cover sociology, politics, business, education, health, and more.