Archive for June 15, 2012

google-blockly – A visual programming language that generates JavaScript code

Intriguing new web-based visual programming language from Google that generates JavaScript or Python.

Blockly is a web-based, graphical programming language. Users can drag blocks together to build an application. No typing required.

Check out the demos:

Maze – Use Blockly to solve a maze.

Code – Export a Blockly program into JavaScript, Dart, Python or XML.

RTL – See what Blockly looks like in right-to-left mode (for Arabic and Hebrew).

Blockly is currently a technology preview. We want developers to be able to play with Blockly, give feedback, and think of novel uses for it. All the code is free and open source. Join the mailing list and let us know what you think.

via google-blockly – A visual programming language – Google Project Hosting.

June 15, 2012 at 9:27 am 2 comments

Carl Wieman on Effective Teaching

This is a really nice piece on a lecture by Carl Wieman, whom I have mentioned previously.  In one page, the summary hits most of the key ideas in How People Learn.

“Memory is not talked about much in education, but it is critically important,” Wieman said, and the limited discussion that does occur focuses primarily on long-term memory while short-term working memory is ignored.

He compared the latter to a personal computer with limited RAM. “The more it is called upon to do, to remember, the harder it is to process. The average human brain [working memory] has a limit of five to six new items, it can’t handle anything more.”

A new item is anything that is not in the learner’s long-term memory, he continued. “Anything you can do to reduce unnecessary demands on working memory will improve learning.”

Among them is elimination of unnecessary jargon. Wieman asked: “That new jargon term that is so convenient to you, is it really worth using up 20% of the mental processing capacity of the students for that class period?” Demands of working memory can also be reduced by shifting some learning tasks, particularly transfer of simple information from the classroom to pre-reading assignments and homework.

via AAAS – AAAS News Release – “Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman: Effective Teaching Should Create Students Who Think Like Scientists”.

June 15, 2012 at 9:25 am 11 comments


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