Friday, February 15, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds?

When I first starting teaching computers, beginning students learned "turtle logo" and were so proud of the advances made in logic development and problem solving. Intermediate students were given BASIC challenges. Then along came many "boxed" programs and the skill of actual programming seemed to be too 'hard'. Licenses were purchased, installed and students sent to labs to "play" the games. The thought was that people don't have to program, they can just buy what they need. The last few years with tightened budgets, we have seen the advent of more open source and Web 2.0 tools taking the place of the costly boxes. More and more schools drop even the high school programming classes. Multimedia, interactivity and communication are true key literacies for today. I believe that one very important skill our students will need is the ability to make technology respond to them in numerous ways. They seem to understand this better than we educators. Who has the skills to set up the universal remote, organize an advanced websearch and subscribe to its updates, make involved personal webpages with embedded codes and communication tools? They have on their own established the basis to go much further as they grow into adults. Are we encouraging this growth? How many teachers are building upon these self-learned skills to move students toward advanced programming and logic development? Every year machines become more and more powerful - the successful person will be the one to understand this technology and make it function in meaningful ways. So, the next time you need a student in your class to setup a DVD or LCD projector, ask yourself why she can. If the ability to control machines is indeed the key literacy of this century, educators need to begin the discussion on how to make our students literate !

Some resources: Interesting book:

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