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Good Magazine & Coding

I came across two articles recently, one that discusses a toy that came out intended to teach coding to students for $25.

The other piece discusses free coding camp options -free ways to learn code online.

Happy coding…

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3 Responses

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  1. GC Music Social Media Editor says

    So I have been thinking about this post alot in the past few days, and I am sorry if this “reply” is quite long…but it led me down several avenues of thinking.

    I remember when the Raspberry Pi was getting a lot of buzz within my circle of coding friends a few months ago. We were having an intense conversation about the future of computing, and I expressed how strongly I felt that in the 21st century, basic coding skills should be integrated into primary level education as a fundamental skill, just like reading and writing. One of my friends has just been to see a talk a conference addressing the issue of declining application rates for software engineering programs in the UK, as well as general, noticeable decline in the quality/level of applicants that were applying. Although I don’t remember exactly who the talk was by, I was guessing it was by Bill Thompson, who wrote this article for the BBC news several years ago:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7324556.stm

    After much debate, we talked about how non-hack-able devices and the decline of computer interaction for average users through the command line has led to a growing void between computer users and understanding/interacting with a computer, especially in the realm of software running on a computer and understanding how it ACTUALLY works. I am excited about the Raspberry Pi, because of its potential as a hack-able, pedagogical device. But then I became concered about how people / children would gain the knowledge needed to begin playing with something like the raspberry pi. And when the conversation turned toward my “radical” teaching ideas (treating coding as a fundamental skill along side reading and writing and arithmetic), the coders in the group tried to convince me that teaching “coding” was not the answer – I had to think more about teaching “logic”, as coding is logic.

    Now, not being a coder myself, I am still working on formulating my ideas about coding and education… and maybe teaching coding languages is not the answer, at least not a young age. But I guess what I really want is what I call “computer interaction” education introduced into the education system at a young age. I see babies and toddlers interacting with ipads and tablets everyday on the subway… which leads me to believe that children that are in early elementary school are more than capable learners when it comes to technology. And if basic skills of computer interaction were more common among average users, then maybe something like the Raspberry Pi would be even more effective as a pedagogical tool, because students would have basic knowledge required to begin tinkering with it. I think teaching things like….how to give a computer simple commands in a terminal, how to write a shell script, how to get away from a GUI and interact directly through commands, with a computer, is something that the average computer user is never taught.

    I think there is hope that the Raspberry Pi, and other products like it, will help in fixing the problem of declining deep level user interaction with computers. But there are a few stumbling blocks that I can foresee: For many people, they will take one look at a raspberry pi and wonder how they will ever figure out what to do with it – and that is because, as wonderful as it is, there is still a little bit of a barrier to entry in understanding how to use is and what kind of things you can do with it. And although it holds amazing pedagogical potential with its hack-able design, you need very dedicated and knowledgeable teachers introducing it into their classrooms if it were ever going to be a successful teaching tool in mainstream education. Right now, it think it is a perfect and awesome thing for the kids that are already into computers – and at such a low price tag, kids, or adolescents could afford to buy it at their won volition, and parents might be more willing to buy it for their children, if their children asked for it. But until there are more teachers that are well trained in computer science (as this article talks a bit about: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16424990), I think it will be difficult to integrate into mainstream education.

    Which doesn’t mean I am AGAINST it in any way….I think the raspberry pi is awesome, and I am excited to see what kinds of interesting things come of it…but I think there are more issues that arise than just the existence of a hack-able device when when talking about computing and education.

  2. mandiberg says

    Yes, there has been a rise in programs/projects like this, and other related non-institution options for learning. From barcamps, to other venture funded initiatives. It is worth noting that you see some of this innovation centering around sectors that industry/capital desires to encourage. In this case they are calling it STEM, which is a technocrat/bureaucratic way of talking about the sciences. One of the models here, is that these code academies function as head hunters: tech firms are short on skilled labor, so these middlemen companies train the labor, get them jobs at the tech companies and receive ~$20,000 in compensation per head as a headhunters fee. What are your thoughts on that “educational business model”?

Continuing the Discussion

  1. The Let’s Slow Down Round-Up : Footenotes linked to this post on February 12, 2012

    […] – Special thanks to the ITP Core 2 blog for passing along these little gems.  Maybe 2012 is the year I finally catch up with my peers instead of waiting for other people to […]



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