Computational Thinking & The Future of Work

The world is rapidly changing and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. So what will it look like in 10, 20 or 50 years? Does anyone really know? 

Launched in 2019, The Future X Podcast powered by Future Design School, is a cerebral experience that asks the BIG QUESTIONS about the future of anything and everything. In each episode, Quin Henderson sits down with the planets foremost experts and thought leaders to explore how they are challenging the status quo to take us into the uncertain future.

Recently, Quin had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Jennifer Gardy, Deputy Director of the malaria team for the Gates Foundation. In this episode, Dr. Gardy helps us to understand the ever-changing landscape known as the future of work. At the forefront of studying the spread of disease, she unpacks for us skills that will significantly impact the way in which we work now and in the future, and not only in the field of Science.These skills are not limited to, but include: computational thinking, curiosity, communication, empathy, and collaboration. In this post, we’ll unpack Dr. Gardy’s take on these skills and how educators can work to cultivate these skills in students.

“The four skills that make up computational thinking include: Algorithmic Thinking; Decomposition; Abstraction; and Pattern recognition.”

Computational Thinking

We’ve all seen a movie where there is a group of scientists trying to control a major outbreak of a disease to save the human race. The world of Hollywood sensationalizes this work and we know that real life isn’t always exactly like the movies. In this podcast, Dr. Gardy speaks directly to how the world of epidemiology has evolved. Although much of Hollywood depicts scientists dealing specifically with pathogens, the work that Dr. Gardy does is computational and driven by data. She gives us a real example of the practical use of computational thinking: a set of methods that allows users to solve problems the way that a computer would. The four skills that make up computational thinking include: Algorithmic Thinking; Decomposition; Abstraction; and Pattern recognition. It’s the use of these skills that help to create useful predictions around public health events. Looking to find out more about computational thinking? Join the conversation on June 27th, 2019 form 8 to 9pm (EST) on Twitter as we chat about Computational Thinking & Coding: What Is It and How Might We Leverage It For Meaningful Learning?


Throughout the podcast, curiosity is probably the most mentioned word. Dr Gardy references a cycle of learning that is in essence what educators, who are working from the lens of inquiry, utilize in their classrooms. It starts out by being curious about a particular subject or area. Next, individuals seek out information and then work to synthesize that information. What usually happens is that more questions arise and this cycle of gathering information, synthesizing, questioning continues. When students have opportunities that mimic this real-world inquiry, they develop the skills necessary to do so on an ongoing basis, no matter what subject area they are introduced to. If we are working to help students develop a life-long excitement for learning, personalized inquiry empowers them to do just that. Pose big questions in your classroom. See how students interact with it and dig into what peeks their curiosity. From there, you’ll have an energized group of students who are going through the cycle highlighted by Dr. Gardy.


Effective communication is important in any field of study. Here, Dr, Gardy speaks to the importance of good communication in changing behaviour, specifically as it relates to the prevention of the spread of disease. By investing in the time to further develop communication skills we are more easily able to help people understand what we hope to communicate. In her important work of disease prevention, telling powerful stories through images is one way that she can help people to understand the implications of the spread of disease.

How are you working with students to develop their empathy?


Above, we mentioned effective communication. Within communication, is the all important skill of listening. Dr Gardy addresses the need for building empathy by listening with the ultimate goal of understanding the perspectives and beliefs of patients. Empathy is being able to understand and share the feelings of another. At Future Design School, our approaches and methods are user-centered and allow for students to build deep empathy as they work towards creating meaningful solutions to big problems in the world. When we seek to understand the world from the perspective of another, we gain a deeper understanding of the experiences that influence their decisions and actions. The world is in desperate need of empathetic people who care deeply about others. How are you working with students to develop their empathy?


Lastly, she and Quin wrap up the podcast by highlighting an interdisciplinary skillset whereby curiosity and the collaboration amongst people from different fields of study, can lead to the solving of important problems. When students are aware of their skillset and have opportunities to collaborate and contribute based on their strengths, they experience greater confidence as they work to solve big problems. How are students in your classroom understanding skill development? What skills are they currently working on developing? What are their areas of strength? What are their areas of need? How are they working towards acknowledging and growing in both of those areas? Interested in finding out more about how you can learn to help develop these skills in students? Join one of our upcoming Certification Programs by visiting our Events page. 

As educators, if you haven’t already, you definitely need to listen to this podcast! The world is rapidly changing and Dr. Gardy has highlighted a number of competencies that we know can be used across disciplines in order to prepare students for success now and in the future.

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