Posts tagged ‘literacy’

What is programming-as-literacy, what does it look like, and what should we worry about? Alan Kay in Scientific American

Last month, I wrote a blog post about programming as a kind of literacy. I got some pushback.  Really? Literacy?  That programming in C stuff?  Well, no, programming in C is not what I mean by a form of literacy.  I recommended looking at some of what Alan Kay had written in Scientific American.

I decided to do that for myself.

Alan’s first article for Scientific American was in 1977, “Microelectronics and the Personal Computer,”  about the idea of a personal computer and the explorations they were doing at Xerox PARC with Smalltalk. I liked this one a lot because it emphasizes simulations “the central property of computing.”

The second was in 1984, “Computer Software.” Here’s where he defines literacy with the computer. It’s way more than just programming.

Alan_Kay_-_Computer_Software_SciAm_Sept_84

The third was in 1991, “Computers, Networks and Education.” This is the one where Alan really questioned whether things with computing were going in the right direction. For example, he worried about how people thought about “literacy” on the computer.

sci_amer_article-literacy-as-burden

He returned to the importance of simulation.

sci_amer_article-value-of-computing-is-simulation

And he was worried about people being critical of information that they find on the Internet (note that this is 1991, before Web browsers).

sci_amer_article-networked-computers

But in the end, Alan was hopeful, that we might develop a skeptical attitude with computing.

sci_amer_article-simulation

December 17, 2018 at 7:00 am 3 comments

The new Core Standards for English Language Arts Literacy: Implications for Computing Literacy?

I found this fascinating discussion about the new Common Core standards efforts around English Language Arts, and it got me wondering about creating an analogy.  Are the parallels to the below for computing literacy?  “Students should read as much nonfiction as fiction.”  What does that mean in terms of the notations of computing? Students should read as many program proofs as programs?  Students should read as much code as comments?  The “coherent knowledge” part seems to connect to the kinds of ideas in the CS:Principles effort.  What is “close reading” of programming?

I’m sure that there are not one-to-one mappings from English Language Arts to Computing, but they are interesting to think about.  If this is what it means to be text literate, what does it mean to be computing literate?

Say what you will about CCSS, but there are three big ideas embedded within the English Language Arts standards that deserve to be at the very heart of literacy instruction in U.S. classrooms, with or with or without standards themselves:

1. Students should read as much nonfiction as fiction.

2. Schools should ensure all children—and especially disadvantaged children—build coherent background knowledge that is essential to mature reading comprehension.

3. Success in reading comprehension depends less on “personal response” and more on close reading of text.

via Meet the Children Where They Are…and Keep Them There « The Core Knowledge Blog.

June 7, 2012 at 6:30 am 6 comments

APM’s Marketplace: Why you should learn to code

I’m a listener of American Public Media’s Marketplace, and I was surprised to see that they’re getting on the “computing for everyone” bandwagon.  But arguing that Code Year will not only work (you’ll learn to code, if you give them five hours a week), but it will “be fun” may be promising more than they even Code Year promises.

Code Year’s minimum commitment is one new lesson every week. The company says that it will take a typical person about five hours to complete a lesson, so you’re looking at about an hour of training every weekday. That’s not so bad, considering that the lessons are free and the reward could be huge.

By helping you get acquainted with the primary force driving the modern economy, learning to code is becoming nearly as important as knowing how to read and write. One more thing — it’ll be fun!

via Why you should learn how to code | Marketplace from American Public Media.

March 12, 2012 at 10:30 am 1 comment


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