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Hour of Code
Old 12-09-2013, 01:06 AM   #1
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Hour of Code

By now, you have probably been exposed to the "Hour of Code", on the Google main page.
While I have not finished the initial Q&A segment, which introduces the subject, (about an hour of intro)... it appears that it is intended to provide a broad base beginning to a concept of education that is being introduced for young people. Designed to establish a background in technology, beginning as early as age 4.
At this point, it seems that the size of the project is expected to be world wide, and to be supported by the education system of not only the United States, but the whole world.
Hour of Code... if it moves forward as it has been outlined, will be much longer than an hour... and could occupy a significant part of the educational process.

I see great promise, but also hear alarm bells. Unless this has been going on in the schools for some time, (and I/we have not heard about it )... it appears to be an end run around the current curriculum.
Would be very interested in the opinions of the members here on ER, particularly because of the number of people with IT backgrounds.

The Q&A... which is the broad overview... An hour, directed mostly to teachers and the education community:
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:12 AM   #2
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Follow up... after finishing the Q&A...

Whew... looks to be much farther along than I thought... Appears to have been in process for some time. 1.9 Million persons signed up already... hundreds of schools signed on... and an organizational process enlisting teachers, parents, IT professionals, and almost everyone who has a computer.
Some of the points covered that triggered questions for me.
1. Signing up... while stated as not obligatory, in fact seems to be required.
2. Advanced planning for courses... a fuzzy explanation about courses in different disciplines, but which included "government"... (only for the U.S., but available world wide)... The video hints at unlimited subject matter.
3. Obviously Google based and backed, but the scope of the planning invokes an Orwellian image of the future. The scope of the project appears to leapfrog the educational process and open the door to an organized system of "shadow education".

If there is a worry here, it could be that not only does this represent thinking ouside the box... but also educating outside the box, and I wonder if that could happen. Is it wise to do this with developing minds?

Other than that, perhaps an opportunity to level the educational playing field, and to introduce the economies of scale to an expensive, existing system?
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:51 AM   #3
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I haven't paid much attention but I have seen some posts arguing about which language is the best to teach (IIRC Python got a lot of points, but some people though Ruby would be better). Can't see how it hurts to learn some very basic coding as a little kid.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Follow up... after finishing the Q&A...
...
If there is a worry here, it could be that not only does this represent thinking ouside the box... but also educating outside the box, and I wonder if that could happen. Is it wise to do this with developing minds?
...
As a parent who home schooled both children from K - 12, I like outside the box thinking. I'll have to go take a look.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:13 AM   #5
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If there is a worry here, it could be that not only does this represent thinking ouside the box... but also educating outside the box, and I wonder if that could happen. Is it wise to do this with developing minds?

Other than that, perhaps an opportunity to level the educational playing field, and to introduce the economies of scale to an expensive, existing system?

Considering the state of American education, isn't innovation something to be encouraged? There have been incredible advances in technology in the last 50+ years but teaching is virtually unchanged.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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By now, you have probably been exposed to the "Hour of Code", on the Google main page.
You're assuming I would look at anything beyond the picture and the search box. I have Google as my home page and never even noticed the "Hour of Code" until you mentioned it. Must work on broadening my focus.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:19 AM   #7
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Soon after reading this post I ran into a discussion of the topic that has started up on Slashdot. I Looks like it is tied up with efforts to encourage Congress to let more foreign coders in the door.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:26 AM   #8
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Watched the first 40 minutes of the video. It's all rather interesting ... I like the idea that they are trying to offer (at no cost) an opportunity for students to have a window into a field they might not otherwise have an opportunity to get involved in.

I have been involved in computer software development since the early 1970's (full disclosure: I retired last year and was an IT director of a multi-billion dollar corporation). I also taught part time in a university graduate and undergraduate program for 7 years and served on the curriculum committee there also so this near to my heart.

Unless a school system is lucky or has deep pockets it has to be difficult (and expensive) to recruit top quality computer science educators and develop programs (keep in mind the field changes almost monthly). The idea of bringing a free online class which could be used as part of a school’s curriculum is something I find appealing. In grade and secondary school students are shown a window into various fields such as mathematics, chemistry etc. why not computer software development?

Software development is here to stay and has great value when utilized with other disciplines. For example, In my past employment my development teams built software systems which reduced emissions from chemical plants.

Bringing the program in via the web is a new and interesting way to educate. Have you looked into edX yet? I personally have developed and managed the development of several classes and training programs. We have tried many different methods of teaching ( online, video, face to face, Books and Workbooks). One thing I did learn was we all learn differently and have different preferences. I personally like using and reading a book on a subject along with a classroom environment. In some ways I believe my preference is a bit “Old School” and the world has changed. The young software engineers on our teams were fine with computer based training programs (although I do believe there was a preference toward face to face) and the programs worked well.

I took a quick look at Code.org and I am not sure about the “political aspects” of what they are doing and the methods they are employing to get their point of view out but as stated above It’s probably about time we start looking at education and the world a bit differently and computer science education is a valuable tool not just for the individual but for society as a whole.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:15 AM   #9
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xyz said:
Quote:
Bringing the program in via the web is a new and interesting way to educate. Have you looked into edX yet? I personally have developed and managed the development of several classes and training programs. We have tried many different methods of teaching ( online, video, face to face, Books and Workbooks). One thing I did learn was we all learn differently and have different preferences. I personally like using and reading a book on a subject along with a classroom environment. In some ways I believe my preference is a bit “Old School” and the world has changed. The young software engineers on our teams were fine with computer based training programs (although I do believe there was a preference toward face to face) and the programs worked well.
The "education" part interested me, in that I think I see more than just "code" as an objective.
About ten years ago, I looked at the future of education, as coming from the internet. In a simplistic way, a proposal that instead of funding education through the nearly 14,000 school districts and 132,000 public K-12 schools in the US...
K-12 Facts
...it could be accomplished through the kind of classes xyz described. The current public education system seems to have discouraged this approach, for some obvious, and some not-so-obvious reasons.
I never envisioned a private sector approach.
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
I see great promise, but also hear alarm bells. Unless this has been going on in the schools for some time, (and I/we have not heard about it )... it appears to be an end run around the current curriculum.
Considering our excremental current system, wouldn't almost anything be a huge improvement? I don't imagine that the teachers are exactly happy with this though.

Ha
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:01 PM   #11
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imoldernu - have you checked out The Kahn Academy on youtube? You can do a lot of learning there. Several universities have lectures up as well.

I think these can certainly supplement traditional learning. Ideally, it would free time for a teacher to focus on individual issues, making better use of their time.

-ERD50
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:27 PM   #12
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That is certainly the narative that we get from the media, but they've been saying our schools are awful for 30+ years, and somehow we muddle on.

If you live in a reasonably affluent district, I think schools are probably better than they ever have been.

I believe that average student test scores are a very small amount higher than they were a generation ago.

One big problem we have is separating the quality of the schools from the quality of the students going to them. If you took some of those "good" schools, and sent students with the economic and social disadvantages of the "failed" schools to them, would they still be considered "good" schools?

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Considering our excremental current system, wouldn't almost anything be a huge improvement?
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:35 PM   #13
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Yeah, I'd really like to see this stuff get more attention. I think our traditional lecture-based approach to education is remarkably inefficient. We have teachers constantly re-inventing the wheel over and over across the country, preparing lectures on standard topics that thousands of teachers have taught before.

Why not have the students watch videos of the absolute best lectures that have been done on a topic, and have the teachers spend time with the students afterward addressing their individual problems? The Kahn Academy recommends something like this. Basically, the kids watch the lectures as homework, and then do the related problems at school when they can get help from the teachers.


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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
imoldernu - have you checked out The Kahn Academy on youtube? You can do a lot of learning there. Several universities have lectures up as well.

I think these can certainly supplement traditional learning. Ideally, it would free time for a teacher to focus on individual issues, making better use of their time.

-ERD50
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:30 PM   #14
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If there is a worry here, it could be that not only does this represent thinking ouside the box... but also educating outside the box, and I wonder if that could happen. Is it wise to do this with developing minds?
Well, seeing as how my daughter is just about to finish her homeschooled high school (graduating this week), I guess I don't have much problem educating outside the box. In fact, I'm not all that enthralled with the box at all.

There are lots of resources to educate people that don't go through the public schools (and one of my sons attended private school).

Anyway - did anyone else other than me actually do the hour of code? I did and enjoyed it (there was one that I haven't figured out yet how to do it in the number of steps they want - when my CS major son gets home this evening I'll ask him).

As for choosing Java, I do know that the first semester programming course at DS's school teaches Java.
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Old 12-09-2013, 03:34 PM   #15
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That is certainly the narative that we get from the media, but they've been saying our schools are awful for 30+ years, and somehow we muddle on.

If you live in a reasonably affluent district, I think schools are probably better than they ever have been.

I believe that average student test scores are a very small amount higher than they were a generation ago.

One big problem we have is separating the quality of the schools from the quality of the students going to them. If you took some of those "good" schools, and sent students with the economic and social disadvantages of the "failed" schools to them, would they still be considered "good" schools?
I don't think I form my ideas from popular media, but clearly these judgments are evaluated differently by different people.

Here is one easily understood graphic ranking.

I think for country that wants to stay on top, we are not doing at all well.
.

Education Olympics: How Does America Rank Compared To Other Countries? (INFOGRAPHIC)
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