Posts tagged ‘learning sciences’
An interesting new piece on identity within the open source community. Noah Slater addresses a concern that I have, that the definition of contribution in open source communities limits the opportunity for legitimate peripheral participation.
Perhaps the most obvious way in which the hacker identity has a hold over the open source identity is this notion that you have to code to contribute to open source. Much like technical talent is centered in the tech industry, code is seen as the one true way to contribute. This can be such a powerful idea that documentation, design, marketing, and so on are often seen as largely irrelevant. And even when this isn’t the case, they are seen as second class skills. For many hackers, open source is an escape from professional environments where collaboration with these “lesser”, more “mainstream” activities is mandatory.
I’m intrigued by this project and would really love to see some analysis. Do students who use Scratch recognize Sniff as being a text form of Scratch? If it doesn’t work well, is the problem in the syntax and semantics of Sniff, and maybe we could do better? Do students transfer their knowledge of Scratch into Sniff?
So if Scratch is so great why do we need Sniff? The problem is that at some point you need to move beyond Scratch. It could be that you want to tackle a different kind of problem that Scratch can’t handle well. Perhaps you’ve realised that graphical programming is a nice idea, and great way to start, but in practise its clumsy. Clicking and dragging blocks is a tedious and slow way to build large programs. It could be you need something that feels “more grown up” – the cat sprite/logo is cute, and even older children will find it fun for a while, but Scratch is designed to look and feel like a toy even though its actually very powerful. For whatever reason at some point you start to look for something “better”.
I don’t agree that learning a foreign language is as useful as learning a programming language, especially in terms of increased communication capability (so I wouldn’t see it as equivalent to a foreign language requirement). I see learning a foreign language as far more important and useful. It is interesting to think about cognitive effects of learning programming that might be similar to the cognitive effects of learning another human language.
Learning a language increases perception. Multilingual students are better at observing their surroundings. They can focus on important information and exclude information that is less relevant. They’re also better at spotting misleading data. Likewise, programming necessitates being able to focus on what works while eliminating bugs. Foreign language instruction today emphasizes practical communication — what students can do with the language. Similarly, coding is practical, empowering and critical to the daily life of everyone living in the 21st century.
What can the teacher do to inculcate interest? What responsibility does the teacher have to sustain interest? If there is a way to teach that can be effective, don’t teachers have a moral obligation to teach that way?
In general, findings from studies of interest suggest that educators can (a) help students sustain attention for tasks even when tasks are challenging—this could mean either providing support so that students can experience a triggered situational interest or feedback that allows them to sustain attention so that they can generate their own curiosity questions; (b) provide opportunities for students to ask curiosity questions; and (c) select or create resources that promote problem solving and strategy generation.
Really interesting blog post, dissecting the mistakes made in a very popular TED talk.
Sir Ken’s ideas aren’t just impractical; they are undesirable. Here’s the trouble with his arguments:
1. Talent, creativity and intelligence are not innate, but come through practice.
2. Learning styles and multiple intelligences don’t exist.
3. Literacy and numeracy are the basis for creativity.
4. Misbehaviour is a bigger problem in our schools than conformity.
5. Academic achievement is vital but unequal, partly because…
6. Rich kids get rich cultural knowledge, poor kids don’t.
I don’t completely agree with all of Pragmatic Education’s arguments.
- Intelligence may not be malleable. You can learn more knowledge, and that can come from practice. It’s not clear that fluid intelligence is improved with practice.
- Learning styles don’t seem to exist. Multiple intelligences? I don’t think that the answer is as clear there.
- Creativity comes from knowing things. Literacy and numeracy are great ways of coming to know things. It’s a bit strong to say that creativity comes from literacy and numeracy.
- There are lots of reasons why rich kids are unequal to poor kids (see the issue about poverty and cognitive function.) Cultural knowledge is just part of it.
But 90% — I think he gets what’s wrong with Sir Ken’s arguments.
The first of these “lies” is the one that that the students in my TA Prep (Teaching Assistant Preparation course, for PhD students learning to be teaching assistants) courses most often say back to me. The third lie (where “___” is “computer programming”) is a pernicious one among CS teachers.
When I was in middle school and high school, teachers loved to impart various tidbits of wisdom about the way students learn during lectures, always couched in such a way as to indicate these were scientifically accepted facts. You know everyone learns differently. Do you think you learn better through words or pictures? Did you know you learn different subjects with different sides of the brain?
Welp, they were wrong. Many of the theories of “brain-based” education, a method of instruction supposedly based on neuroscience, have been largely debunked by rigorous science. Brain-based education studies are usually poorly designed and badly controlled. Nevertheless, myths about how we learn persist in the popular imagination, and, most importantly, in educational materials and references for teachers.
1. We Learn Best When Teaching Is Tailored To Our Learning Style
2. Some People Are Left-Brained, Some People Are Right-Brained
3. __ Will Make You Smarter
I talked with Dan Hickey about this — it’s an interesting alternative to MOOCs, and the topic is relevant for this blog.
In the fall semester of 2013, IU School of Education Researcher and Associate Professor Dr. Daniel Hickey will be leading an online course. The 11-week course will begin on September 9 and is being called a ‘BOOC’ or “Big Open Online Course”. The main topic being taught is ”Educational Assessment: Practices, Principles, and Policies”. Here students will develop “WikiFolios”, endorse each other’s work, and earn bonafide Digital Badges based on the work they complete. Additionally, the course provides an opportunity for Dr. Hickey to observe how these activities translate from the same for-credit, online course that initially seated 25 students to the new ‘BOOC’ format hosting 500 participants: During his small scale experimental study, Dr. Hickey stated:
“I feel like I came up with some nice strategies for streamlining the course and making it a little less demanding which I think is necessary for an open, non-credit course. I learned ways to shorten the class, to get it from the normal 15 week semester to the 11 weeks. I condensed some of the assignments and gave students options; they do performance or portfolio assessment, they don’t do both. I thought that was pretty good for students.”