you can make pictures with it and it helps you read
it’s not human
[a computer doesn’t have] feelings
It can think but you have to tell it what to do, we are [doing the thinking]
By now, the kids in the video are about forty years old. They are my age. We grew up working with a computer. The focus was on what we could do with a computer. What could we write, design or create with a computer.
I wonder if today’s students have the same focus? Are we shifting from a ‘what we can do with a computer’ toward ‘what can a computer do for us’ mindset?
Last week we interviewed Illah Reza Nourbakhsh, Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. We talked a lot about how robots will affect the future. However, there was a segment of the interview that really touched on the role of the teacher and technology in the classroom.
Nourbakhsh explains the new challenges teachers face when students are working with technology in the classroom:
…educators not only need to give students the power to invent, because they need to be creators, but they need to teach them what it means to think about the process of invention, to think about the ethics of society and that’s not a lesson that we’ve ever been busy teaching people in say middle school or high school before.
When asked about teachers who feel they don’t know enough about technology, he explains:
…teachers are decades older than their students, or at least a decade older, they know about society, they know about ethics, they know about rhetoric. And we can create resources that make it ever easier for them to teach with that. But basically we’re giving people much more powerful weapons of speech. And if we do that, we have to also teach them how to use that speech. If we decouple those in the wrong way, it’s a disaster. Then we have this zoo and our quality of life goes to heck.
You can find the entire show at LabOutLoud.com, but I clipped out the segment that speaks to technology integration and share it below.
P.S. In this clip, co-host Brian Bartel coins the phrase “edtech smog” to describe the instances where technology pollutes our mission as educators. I’m putting Voki and Animoto at the top of my list as #EdtechSmog.
When children and adolescents have unlimited and unsupervised access to media, evidence has shown that this exposure can lead to several health effects such as academic difficulties, obesity, substance abuse, and aggression. Yet, we live in a media-rich world where devices like tablets and smartphones can also provide many benefits. To acknowledge this need for balance, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently updated their guidelines for children and adolescents with new policy statements on screen time.
To start the screen time conversation with parents, the AAP recommends that pediatricians begin asking these two questions at every well-child visit: How much recreational screen time does your child or teenager consume daily? Is there a TV set or an Internet connected device in the child’s or teenager’s bedroom?
The AAP recommends that parents limit entertainment screen time to less than one to two hours per day. They suggest that families create a media plan for their homes and keep televisions and other Internet connected devices out of a child’s bedroom.
Schools and teachers should be considering these guidelines too. How can parents make a media plan for their family without knowing what is being consumed at school? We must be careful not to contribute to a child’s entertainment screen time diet.
Many games and apps are labeled “educational” but have no measured effectiveness to support the claim. Some are simply just interactive toys. Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician and lead author of policy provided by the AAP in 2011, questions the link between an interactive game and the learning it promises to provide. “There’s nothing wrong with a toy being fun, engaging a child for an amount of time. But to promote it as being educational we really need to do research to find out,” explains Brown.
Based on the new AAP guidelines and recommendations, there are many things for teachers to consider. Online games and touch-screen apps can be incredibly engaging for students. However, we must select tools that can demonstrate a targeted approach to student learning. Look for tools that have research to support their educational benefits and be critical of those that will only contribute to a child’s daily dose of entertainment screen time.
Another group is continuing the coding to learn theme. The non-profit foundation Code.org is hoping to increase computer programming education across the world. They’ve created a video with an impressive cast (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh…) but my favorite quote comes from Gabe Newell.
The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You know, you’re going look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.
Scratch is the perfect tool to help kids (ages 8 and up) learn how to write programs or code. But in a recent Ted Talk, Mitch Resnick expresses another good point- the importance of coding to learn.
As kids are creating projects like this, they’re learning to code, but even more importantly, they’re coding to learn. Because as they learn to code, it enables them to learn many other things, opens up many new opportunities for learning. Again, it’s useful to make an analogy to reading and writing. When you learn to read and write, it opens up opportunities for you to learn so many other things. When you learn to read, you can then read to learn. And it’s the same thing with coding. If you learn to code, you can code to learn. Now some of the things you can learn are sort of obvious. You learn more about how computers work. But that’s just where it starts. When you learn to code, it opens up for you to learn many other things.
Super Scratch Programming Adventure! helps your budding developer learn to use Scratch with a comic book story. Each section begins with a continuing piece of a story that ends by giving the reader a problem to solve with Scratch.
Introverts are much less often groomed for leadership positions, even though there’s really fascinating research out recently from Adam Grant at [The Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania] finding that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes when their employees are more proactive. They’re more likely to let those employees run with their ideas, whereas an extroverted leader might, almost unwittingly, be more dominant and be putting their own stamp on things, and so those good ideas never come to the fore.
Here is another reason to get your students writing online.
I was watching my kids play Angry Birds the other day when I noticed how quickly they went for the restart button.
When they didn’t get the first bird to land just the right way they bailed out of the level and started over.
I wonder. Are today’s kids less likely to make a comeback?
I’m all for trial and error and learning from your mistakes. Yet, I wonder if a penalty-free restart sends the right message. This has got me thinking about my students who ask if they can retake a quiz. Should I let them restart their assessments? Right now, assessment retakes become a logistical nightmare if you let everyone have do-overs but this will change as more and more assessments go digital?
Let’s assume that we have an unlimited supply of assessments. These are the questions I have:
When, if ever, should we allow students to restart an assessment?
If they restart, should the restart be penalty-free?
Should there be a limit to the number of restarts a student can take?
Programming is the act of giving computers instructions to perform. This is true whether the output is your word processor, central heating or aircraft control system. If you can’t code, you are forced to rely on those that can to ensure that you can benefit from the greatest tool at your disposal.
I can’t agree more. Every kids should learn to code. Even if it’s just a little bit. Programming skills are empowering and they teach kids the importance of building models.
To dive into programming, check out these tools to get kids started. My personal favorite is Scratch. It is free, easy to use, and designed so even young kids can understand programming without actually having to write out complex code. Below is an overview.
Resembling Scratch, App Inventor is another easy to use programming tool for building apps on Android devices.
Finally, maybe for the more experience coders, give VPython a look. It allows students to create 3D interactive models. Compared to Scratch, it looks a little intimidating. However, there are many sample programs and tutorials available to help you get started.
In between his time as a husband and father, Dale Basler is a Technology Integration Specialist, science teacher, and podcaster. Dale also provides consulting for other institutions, organizations, and product developers who seek to improve K-12 education.