On Computing Education From a 14 year old’s Point of View: A role for livecoding

September 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm 8 comments

Articulate and interesting critique of the state of computing education.  This article is describing the UK, but the situations described are actually better than in most of the US (e.g., that everyone gets some computing education, and that everyone gets some Scratch, is light years ahead of the US where 80% have nothing at all).

The particular point quoted below is about the importance of teaching students enough that they can take pride in the result, and that they can see a path to do more.  I’m writing this while immersed in the Livecoding seminar at Dagstuhl, and I realize that this is a role for livecoding — showing students that they can make something realimmediately and quickly change it to make something new.

Again, we have the Windows Movie Maker problem. If a student cannot take pride in the work they produce, how can you expect them to take an interest in the subject?

From a student’s perspective, if it has taken four years to learn how to produce a program to add two numbers together, the gap to becoming a software developer creating useful applications looks enormous.

via On Computing Education – The Windows Movie Maker Problem – Ross Penman – Ross Penman.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

The Brogrammer Effect: Women Are a Small (and Shrinking) Share of Computer Workers – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic CS National Curriculum in England Released

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carl Alphonce  |  September 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Disclaimer: I don’t know that “livecoding” is – I could guess, but I’m sure I’d be wrong. So maybe I’m missing the point here – in which case feel free to educate me.

    When I was in undergrad I never expected to be able to make something ‘real’ straight away. I don’t think any of the problems we worked on in any of my intro courses were ‘real’ – and that didn’t bother me. I knew I would eventually get there.

    Clearly it should not take 4 years to learn to write a program to add two numbers together. But it probably also takes more than 4 minutes to learn not only how to write such a program but understand why it works.

    Isn’t it important to understand that there is more to the field that what you can accomplish in a first course? I don’t find that students are so impatient – they generally get this.

    When it comes to programming-focused courses I remind my students that the end product (their program) does not matter as much as their having engaged in the process of creating it.

    Reply
    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Maybe students should get this, Carl, but they’re not. We have research results (I’m thinking Colleen Lewis at ICER’11, and Maureen Biggers stayers vs. leavers paper) that students lack a sense of self-efficacy, that they think that programming is about mindlessly coding, and that these are their reasons for giving up. If we want to change the outcome, we have to do something different.

      Reply
      • 3. Carl Alphonce  |  September 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm

        I haven’t read those papers (I’ll put them in my queue) but I wonder whether this effect is unique to programming/CS, or whether it is observed in other areas too. For instance, do people expect ‘instant success’ (for lack of a better short description) when they play music, or sports, or invest in the stock market?

        Reply
        • 4. Mark Guzdial  |  September 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm

          “Instant success” is unfair. “Results commensurate with effort” is probably more like it. Playing music or sports has a far greater feedback for effort than in many CS classes. You expect schoolchildren to be investing in the stock market?

          Reply
          • 5. Carl Alphonce  |  September 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm

            “instant success” was my (perhaps unfair) shortened form of the phrase “showing students that they can make something real, immediately”. I don’t think it is necessarily realistic for beginning students to make something “real” (whatever that means – does it mean something like a polished app that they use every day on their phone?) and to have it made “immediately”.

            I can definitely agree with “results commensurate with effort”.

            The music/sports/stock market line was about people in general, not just students. I am curious. Do people (in general) expect to make something “real, immediately” in other areas of their lives. Maybe they do. Maybe its human nature. Maybe that’s a culturally-conditioned expectation, one that we as educators need to adapt to.

            Maybe I’m reading too much into that phrase.🙂

            Reply
    • 8. Mark Guzdial  |  September 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      And I’ll be saying a lot more about live coding soon. Blog post in preparation.

      Reply

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