Archive for January 28, 2013
I’m visiting Indiana University this week, and giving two talks. If any readers are in the Bloomington area, I hope you can stop by!
9:30 am Jan 29
Title: Improving Success in Learning Computer Science Using Lessons from Learning Sciences
Abstract: Learning computer science is difficult, with multiple international studies demonstrating little progress. We still understand too little about the cognitive difficulties of learning programming, but we do know that we can improve success by drawing on lessons from across learning sciences. In this talk, I will describe three examples, where we improve success in learning computer science through application of lessons and models from the learning sciences. We increased the retention of non-CS majors in a required CS course by increasing the relevance of the course (informed by Eccles’ model of achievement-related choices), though we are limited in how far we can go because legitimate peripheral participation is less relevant. We improved opportunities to learn in a collaborative forum by drawing on lessons from anchored instruction, but were eventually defeated by student perceptions of culture. We have improved learning and transfer of knowledge about programming by using subgoal labeling to promote self-explanations.
Abstract: My colleagues and I have been studying how to teach computer science, to CS majors, to non-CS undergraduates, and to adult professionals. In this talk, I’ll talk about some of what we’ve learned, organized around three lessons. Lesson #1: We typically teach computer science too abstractly, and by teaching it in a context (e.g., media, robots, Nintendo GameBoys, Photoshop), we can dramatically improve success (retention and learning) for both traditional and non-traditional CS learners. Lesson #2: Collaboration can create opportunities for learning, but classroom culture (e.g., competition) trumps technology (Wikis). Lesson #3: Our greatest challenge in computer science education is improving teaching, and that will require changes in high schools, in public policy, and in universities.
A recommended video from Mitch Resnick, who leads the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, the home of Scratch.
Most people view computer coding as a narrow technical skill. Not Mitch Resnick. He argues that the ability to code, like the ability to read and write, is becoming essential for full participation in today’s society. And he demonstrates how Scratch programming software from the MIT Media Lab makes coding accessible and appealing to everyone — from elementary-school children to his 83-year-old mom.
As director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, Mitch Resnick designs new technologies that, in the spirit of the blocks and finger paint of kindergarten, engage people of all ages in creative learning experiences.
Interesting piece in Inside HigherEd which argues that the real impact of MOOCs on the University is to get the University out of the business of engaging students and working to improve completion, retention, and graduation rates. Nobody gets into the University until proven by MOOC. And since so few people complete the MOOCs, the percentage of the population with degrees may plummet.
Constructing this future will take some time, but not much time. It only requires the adaptation of various existing mechanisms for providing proctored exams worldwide and a revenue and expense model that allows all the providers (university and faculty content providers, MOOC middleware providers, and quality control providers) to establish profitable fee structures. In this model, the risk and cost of student engagement is borne by the students alone. The university assumes no responsibility for student success other than identifying quality courses. The MOOC middleware companies create and offer the content through sophisticated Internet platforms available to everyone but make no representations about the likelihood of student achievement. Indeed, many student participants may seek only participation not completion. The quality control enterprise operates on a fee-for-service basis that operates without much concern for the number of students that pass or fail the various proctored tests of content acquisition, and many participants in MOOC activities may not want to engage the quality control system.