Posts tagged ‘Hour of Code’

What’s the impact of the Hour of Code? It goes way beyond an Hour

Code.org has just released an interesting survey about their Hour of Code initiative.  They’ve been criticized for providing only an hour and overly focusing on puzzles (see Mitchel Resnick’s article here).  The results suggest that they’re reaching a diverse audience, and having an effect beyond an hour — students keep going, and teachers start teaching CS.

Programming is a literacy, and no one develops any kind of literacy in just an hour of practice.  Games are not the most interesting and powerful kinds of programming activities.

But they’re a start.  Particularly when we get past the Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect of thinking about students as being like us.  We know from many studies that students are afraid of computer programming. I’m teaching Media Computation again this semester, and at least a third of the students who have come talk to me after class have started their conversation with, “I’m one of those people who just don’t do computers.”  And that’s just those self-reporting without prompting!  Students associate CS with being a geek and wouldn’t want to let their friends know they like computer science, even if they do.  Few students get any kind of computer science education outside of Hour of Code.

When we think about most people, sustained activity in programming for one hour can go a long way to reducing fear, increasing self-efficacy, and nurturing interest. (Consider an Hour of Code compared to less than <5 minutes typically spent at a museum exhibit.) Games are a useful place to start because they’re well-structured. Aptitude-treatment interaction tells us that more structure is better with students who have less background in a subject.  Open-ended, constructionist activities like those that Mitchel is promoting are more successful with more privileged students, those who have more experience which results in higher-ability students. The Hour of Code can help inspire students to get that additional experience needed to develop more ability.)  An Hour of Code is a good first step for the remedial state of computing education in the United States today.

Hooray for Hour of Code, and thanks to Code.org for promoting it and for sharing these data.

The onus is on us to turn the Hour of Code into a Lifetime of Computational Literacy. 

After the Hour of Code, we asked participating organizers how it went and got some fantastic news for our field.

  • 98% had a good or great experience.
  • 85% of those new to computer science said the Hour of Code increased their interest in teaching computer science.
  • 49% said they plan to continue teaching computer science beyond one hour.
  • 18% said they began teaching computer science after a previous Hour of Code campaign!
  • 87% said their students did more than just one hour of coding.

Source: What’s the impact of the Hour of Code? | Code.org

January 22, 2016 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

CSEdWeek progress in Georgia: Math and Science teachers in CS/IT and a Transfer Summit

The Code.org site (see here) describes some of the successes of CSEd Week.  Over 81 million people tried the Hour of Code.  President Obama became the first US President to program (see Forbes piece).

I’m sure that there were a lot of outreach activities going on in Georgia, too.  I wasn’t involved in those. I want to report on two points of progress in Georgia that was more at an infrastructural level.

Chris Klaus (as I mentioned in this blog previously) has gathered stakeholders in a “Georgia Coding” group to push on improving computing in Georgia.  That effort bore fruit during CSedWeek.  Georgia had its first “Day of Code,” but Barb and I were most excited to visit the Georgia Professional Standards Commission website on Monday to see this:

Cursor_and_GaPSC_-_CAPS

All the high school IT/CS classes in Georgia can now be taught by teachers with Mathematics or Science certifications.  Previously, only Business Education and Mathematics teachers could teach AP CS, and only Business Education teachers could teach other IT/CS classes. (Even though AP CS counted as a science credit, science teachers couldn’t teach it.)  Now, it’s all open.  It’s much easier to teach Math and Science teachers about CS than Business Education teachers. Now, we have a much larger pool of possible teachers to recruit into CS classes.  I’m grateful that Georgia House Representative Mike Dudgeon took this from the Georgia Coding group and made it happen.

On Thursday, I hosted a Transfer Summit at Georgia Tech.  We had 15 attendees from 11 different institutions in the University System of Georgia, some two-year-mostly institutions and others four-year degree institutions.

Pathways-Meeting

 

The goal was to ease transfer between the schools.  This was a strategy that CAITE used successfully to increase the diversity in computing programs in Massachusetts.  Two year programs are much more diverse than universities (see some data here), but only about 25% of the students who want to transfer do so.  Part of our strategy with ECEP is to set up these meetings where we get schools to smooth out the bumps to ease the transition.

I learned a lot about transfer at this meeting.  For example, I learned that it’s often unsuccessful to have students take all their General Education requirements at the two-year institution and then transfer to the four-year institution, because that leaves just intense CS classes for the last two years — no easier classes.  At some schools, the pre-requisite chains prevent students from even getting a full load of just-CS classes, since students have to pass the pre-req before they can take the follow-on class.

At the end of the meeting, we had 9 new transfer agreements in-progress.  Some of the participants had come to a similar meeting last year, and they said that they were able to make more progress this year because they knew what to have ready.  Wayne Summers from Columbus State actually came with a whole new agreement with Georgia Perimeter College (a two-year institution) already worked out and ready to discuss with GPC representatives.  I was grateful that GPC brought three faculty to the meeting, so that they could have multiple agreements worked out in parallel.

Getting math and science teachers into high school CS classes and helping students in two-year institutions move on to bachelors degrees isn’t as flashy as the Hour of Code and programming at White House.  Teacher certifications and transfer agreements are important when we move beyond the first hour and want to create pathways for students to pursue computing through graduation.

December 20, 2014 at 8:32 am 4 comments

Manipulating NASA Astronomy Data with Pencil Code: A Media Computation Hour of Code Project #CSedWeek

HCC-Google-NASA

I got this email from Matthew Dawson at Google, and was delighted and amazed.  Check out the image before.  They’re using Pencil Code to walk the pixels of an image, with optical, IR, and X-Ray data.  The loop maps the IR and X-Ray data into colors in order to create a visualization.  What a terrifically cool MediaComp Hour of Code project!  I’m sharing this email with his permission:

I wanted to share a media computation type Hour of Code project that I helped create. I’m a big fan of everything you’ve done to advance the use of media in computer science, and thought that you might like to see this application.

It was created by myself, David Bau a Googler who created Pencil Code (an IDE that can transition between blocks and text), and astronomers at NASA and the ASA. In it, students get to create image mashups by tinkering with the R,G,B values of two images. They then get to apply those concepts to recolor real supernova images of various wavelengths to generate colorful astronomical images. Kim Arcand, who voices the last three videos, is the Visualization Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-Ray telescope, and this application of CS very closely matches the types of things she does each day.

This activity was created by volunteers August Muench, astronomer for the American Astronomical Society, Kim Arcand, visualization lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Sydney Pickens and Matthew Dawson, both computer science educators with Google CS First

December 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

2014 CSEdWeek, Hour of Code, and (new!) Georgia Day of Code

CSEdWeek is December 8-14 this year, and Code.org is repeating their Hour of Code activity.  The idea of Hour of Code is to get millions of students to try out coding.  See more on CSEdWeek here, and on Hour of Code here.  This year, Andy Stefik’s accessible programming language Quorum is included in an Hour of Code activity: http://quorumlanguage.com/documents/hourofcode/part1.php

Here in Georgia, the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) in cooperation with other groups in Georgia are promoting a “Day of Code” on December 10.  See here for more on that, including information on prizes available for classes and schools.

November 25, 2014 at 8:10 am 1 comment


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