Is Coding the Language of the Digital Age? PRI Science Friday with Hadi and Jane

February 1, 2014 at 1:14 am 8 comments

It’s kind of a strange program.  The interviewer didn’t seem to know who his guests (Hadi Partovi and Jane Margolis) were.  If you have Jane Margolis on your program, you ask her about why it’s important for everyone to have access to computing, not whether programming is more fun today than it was in the 1960’s.  Hadi and Jane did a good job of conveying their messages and responding reasonably, but you can almost hear them thinking, “What was that question?!?”  I particularly liked the end part where Hadi and Jane together point out that after-school clubs are not a replacement for computer science in the curriculum.

With smartphones, tablets, and apps, coding is becoming the language of the digital age, but is the U.S. lagging behind? A panel of experts discusses how we can improve our coding literacy and close the programming gap among women and minorities.

via Is Coding the Language of the Digital Age?.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ira Flatow  |  February 1, 2014 at 10:26 am

    There is an old saying in show business: “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.” Please spell the network on which SciFri is carried as PRI, not NPR.

    Reply
  • 2. Yoshiki Ohshima  |  February 3, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I actually think that Ira and Science Friday did a great job. The guests did also a good job conveying the important messages such as why coding for kids is important, what would be the danger of not doing this, the problem of the gender gap and relationship with the schools and legislature etc. Note that these ideas were mentioned as the direct answers to Ira’s questions. It is clear to me that Ira did his homework and thought about what questions to ask. The lead-in question was not like you quoted. It was about how coding became mainstream now compared to 60’s, and the word “fun” was just added almost accidentally. It really was asking why it is important now, as you wanted.

    Mark, you had a post while ago titled: “Is the IT field more nasty than others?” Science Friday deals with wide range of topics in the science and technology fields; perhaps we should cerebrate that SciFri did a story on this topic?

    Reply
    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  February 4, 2014 at 10:36 am

      You’re probably right, Yoshiki. I’m looking at this with my biased perspective, and I didn’t hear what I was most interested in, but I’m not the general listener. In fact, it’s more bad-on-us that we haven’t communicated the issues in CS Ed well enough, to make it easier to understand the range of issues and the leaders on those issues.

      I’ve been thinking about this since reading your comment, and I tried to figure out what interviews I’d like to hear in CS Ed (and I do realize that I’m a biased-towards-CSEd listener to Science Friday, so these might not be interesting to the general listener):

      • To ask the question about how programming has changed for kids, I’d ask Mitchel Resnick, Karen Brennan, Dan Garcia, and Hal Abelson — people who are actively working to re-define that.
      • To learn about after school clubs, I’d invite the people running the world wide Code Club movement.
      • Having Jane Margolis on the program, I’d ask her, “Why are there so few CS teachers?” and “How do we get more CS teachers? Is it hard for a high school teacher to become a CS teacher?” and “If so few schools have CS, how do they get started with it?”
      • Having Hadi Partovi on the program, I’d ask about the connections from the Tech industry into these issues. “Are the Silicon Valley firms backing this effort to get computing into schools?” and “Why are states resisting making CS count towards high school graduation? What’s the argument against?” To be a bit more challenging, “If increasing diversity is so important, why do high tech firms like Microsoft and Google and Apple hide their diversity numbers?” and “Why is Google pulling out of supporting teacher professional development?”
      Reply
      • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  February 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

        Ooh, thought of one more: “What is the role of computer science in teaching science?” and invite Uri Wilensky, Irene Lee, and Greg Wilson.

        Reply
  • 5. Yoshiki Ohshima  |  February 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you, Mark!

    I am biased toward other way as I am an avid listener of SciFri for some time.

    Besides getting the experts on it, the show could bring on the winners of some programming contests.

    But I guess the real question is what are the tangible breakthrough in the field that can be told to the general audience. Having 10’s of millions visitors to code.org is something you can say, but some obscure change in the method or programming languages would not be catchy. I’d be happy to hear what came out from the efforts (like your item 1), but would have a hard time imagining that the last one (the role of CS in teaching science) would attract regular audience…

    Reply
    • 6. Mark Guzdial  |  February 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      There’s actually something interesting there, but I’m not saying it well because I don’t speak ScienceEd well. As I understand it, the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) requires some computation. What computation is needed? How much CS is needed to meet those standards? The question is really about all of Science becoming computational, so how much of that should reach the Science classroom?

      Reply
  • 7. Counting Computer Science | Geeky Mom  |  February 17, 2014 at 9:16 am

    […] Is Coding the Language of the Digital Age? NPR Science Friday with Hadi and Jane […]

    Reply
  • […] tutor, then how do the average kids get access?  How do the middle and lower kids get access?  Hadi Partovi and Jane Margolis talked about this on PRI’s Science Friday – CS education can’t be an afterschool activity, or we’ll keep making CS a […]

    Reply

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