Here is an interesting infographic from PEW on generational differences re. online behavior.
Archive for the ‘Computer Literacy’ Category
Computer programming is hard to teach and it’s difficult for schools to find programmers to come in to schools to teach. It’s a unique, but critical craft to teach to kids.
“Some of our schools have elected to offer “computer” classes, but instead of teaching programming, these classes almost invariably teach programs: how to use Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, or any of the other commercial software packages used in the average workplace. We teach our kids how to get jobs in today’s marketplace rather than how to innovate for tomorrow’s.”
He could not be more on target in his assessment of the importance of teaching programming. Kids are desperate to acquire this new language, and it feeds their curiosity, imagination, and interest. It also raises kids to a higher cognitive level and forces them to become problem-solvers instead of consumers. Rushkoff writes:
“Digital tools are not like rakes, steam engines, or even automobiles that we can drive with little understanding of how they work. Digital technology doesn’t merely convey our bodies, but ourselves. Our screens are the windows through which we are experiencing, organizing, and interpreting the world in which we live. We are doing more than extending human agency through a new linguistic or communications system. We are replicating the very function of cognition with external, extra-human mechanisms. These tools are not mere extensions of the will of some individual or group, but entities that have the ability to think and operate other components in the neural network–namely, us.”
Of course, kids need to know how to use programs, but they can often tinker and figure these things out on their own, without adult interference. The Hole in the Wall experiment in India is testament to this, and the notion of minimally invasive education is highly pertinent when it comes to kids learning how to use programs.
But for kids to elevate to a higher cognitive level, they need the expertise of high level programmers to give them the tools to understand a new language to become “innovators,” and not just consumers.
For schools, that can be the challenge – how to find the right person to be the conduit of programming knowledge. Or, maybe Google’s Code University can begin to serve as the beginnings of virtual learning for schools and students to build programming communities. An online programming consortium could help to make programming more widely available for schools.