Archive for April 5, 2013

Six Reasons Why Computer Science Education is Failing Students

Interesting arguments from the CEO of LiveCode.  These two points are particularly interesting.  The first is: What sits between Scratch, or Alice, or App Inventor, and professional-class languages like JavaScript or C++?  I would put Python in there, but I still see that the Scratch->Python gap is a big one.  The second paragraph is really striking, and I’d like to see more evidence.  Does Israel’s great CS ed system lead to the strong startup culture, or is it because Israelis value technology that they have both a great startup culture and a great CS Ed system?

Up to about age 13 there are some excellent tools in widespread use, most notable among them being the free and popular Scratch from MIT and MIT App Investor  However students outgrow Scratch by around age 13 and schools often don’t make a good choice of language for the next phase in a child’s education.  Many traditional programing languages such as JavaScript or C++ are completely inappropriate for this age group.  Students struggle to understand what they are learning and often spend their lessons searching for a missing symbol.  The current generation of students use smartphones and so selecting a tool that allows them to create their own apps is another great opportunity to make learning directly relevant to them.  Our own LiveCode platform provides a handy solution to these issues by allowing students to create their own mobile apps using a programming language that is close to English.

I firmly believe that a strengthening computer science education program has to be one of the most obvious and cost effective things we can do to ensure future economic prosperity.  Israel has the highest rate of startup per capita anywhere and that in part stems from its strong computer science education program.  Estonia, another country with both a strong tech sector and economy, recently announced a plan to expand teaching of computer science to all primary school children.  Do we want to be left in the dust by these countries, or left unable to compete with the growing economies of India and China?  What is it going to take to get computer science education moved up the agenda in the USA and here in the UK?

via Six Reasons Why Computer Science Education is Failing Students.

April 5, 2013 at 1:41 am 24 comments

“Everybody should be afraid of MOOCs”

“MOOC-phobia” — I’m enjoying all the MOOCterms that are getting invented to explain these new phenomena.

“There’s a distinction that people often don’t make,” said Professor Thrun, “which is whether these classes reach existing students and take away business, or whether they reach new students and add to the business?”

While that question is being answered, MOOC-phobia continues to spread. Last year, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association entitled its annual conference “Resilience.” This year’s event is called “Disruption 2.0.”

“Everybody should be afraid of MOOCs,” said Gary W. Matkin, dean of continuing education, distance learning and summer session at the University of California, Irvine, “although there are some that should be more afraid than others.”

via Colleges Assess Cost of Free Online-Only Courses – NYTimes.com.

April 5, 2013 at 1:09 am 1 comment


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