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One semi colon away from disaster

At a recent workshop Alexander Repenning said that sometimes teaching programming is “one semi colon away from disaster.” How true that is. Minor syntax issues, especially when dealing with beginners, can make a program look like a complete disaster.

Last school year I had more than a few students come close to panic when a compiler reported dozes, scores or even hundreds of errors. Typically adding a semi colon or a curly brace in the right place made most of the errors “go away.” The words “in the right place” are bold for a reason. At times is seems as though beginners start putting in semi colons or curly braces closely to random locations in hopes of making the errors go away. Sometimes the syntax errors go away but create interesting logic errors. Since too often students associate compiling and running with success the results are not happy for grading purposes.

I’ve been thinking about decorations for my computer lab. I’m starting to think that a couple of signs might be useful. One would say “Don’t panic” and another one just say “Think” like the old IBM signs used to say. And maybe “slow down to make faster progress.”

Panic is bad as it prevents sound thinking. And speed without thought seldom seems to get people where they want to know.

Returning to semi colons, yes we have to, they are one of the reasons so many people like to use block programming languages. Or other forms of drag and drop programming. They do help with talking about concepts and helping students to achieve some success with programming. But do they help when it is time to move on to “real” or traditional programming languages. It seems like a big jump and research seems to be light on the subject.

I had a conversation at the CSTA Annual Conference and found that there are others who are skeptical of the transference from block languages to traditional ones. We could use some more research on this. Does it work? How can we make it work better? What is the best way to help students with the progression? A lot of questions but in the mean time there are days when we still walk one semi colon from disaster.

Late edit but it belongs here:

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 21 July 2014

What a week I had last week. The CSTA Annual Conference, the National CS Principles Summit and then the CSTA Board meeting. I need a rest. I tweeted a lot from the first two events. Not from the board meeting though because that information properly comes through the Board Chair and Executive Director. It took me a while to scan though things but I believe I have some good links to share. I hope you find some value here.
I find it interesting that this is happening. Business schools are realizing that even if you are not a programmer it is valuable to be able to share some common vocabulary and experience with programmers. B-Schools Finally Acknowledge: Companies Want MBAs Who Can Code via Business Week @BW
Delphi for fun - looks like some interesting projects thanks to Peter Beens @pbeens for the link.
One of the events of last week was the National Computer Science Principles Summit. I tweeted about it a lot but you can get a lot of the resources and videos at the CS Principles Summit web site.

Link to Rich Kick's resources for Computer Science Principles
An Office Mix presentation on using Code Hunt A good way to get a quick introduction to what Code Hunt is all about.
Interested in learning more about App Inventor? Follow the link for an online course. http://bit.ly/1jJgUA6
HTML5 Canvas Basics handouts http://www.missblomeyer.com/csta2014 from the CSTA Conference.
Teachers new to programming, nice resource for getting started especially with CS Principles.
Resources from computational thinking through game design workshop at the CSTA annual conference.
Categories: Planet

Information ecology at the heart of knowledge

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 19 July, 2014 - 23:42

While technology is changing the information environment (including information places and spaces), the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow underpins learning. Information can comprise both physical and virtual parts for operation and interaction.

I see that a  major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

Information ecology presents the contexts of information behavior by analogy with ecological habitats and niches, identifying behaviours in biological terms such as ‘foraging’ (Bawden & Robinson, 2012. p.199). In this context of adaptive and responsive co-construction of knowledge, we can facilitate a viable praxis in digital environments, influenced by concepts of rhisomatic learning. Seen as a model for the construction of knowledge, rhizomatic processes hint at the interconnectedness of ideas as well as boundless exploration across many fronts from many different starting points. (Sharples, et al. 2012 p.33).

By creating curriculum and subject delivery which can be reshaped and reconstructed in a dynamic manner in response to changing environmental conditions or the personal professional needs of students, a digital information ecology provides the opportunity to work with information in the construction of knowledge in more dynamic ways, connecting learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, devices and platforms.

Researching how digital technologies may be used to create a more responsive learning ecology both in use of online tools and assessment practices can provide a valid way of examining effectiveness if the link between the use and the learning is explicit. Research to date rarely makes this link explicit and evaluations appear to be based on researcher beliefs about learning which are either not expressed or vague (Starkey 2011, p20.)

Starkey (2011) provides an excellent summary of the key concepts of critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections that epitomizes 21st century learning. Technology can be used to evaluate learning, though the link between digital technologies and student performance is complex. Yet the digital age students, who can think critically, learn through connections, create knowledge and understand concepts should be able to connect and collaborate with others beyond a constrained physical environment; understand that knowledge is created through a range of media and created through networks, connections and collaborations; be able to think critically and evaluate processes and emerging ideas. The ability to evaluate the validity and value of information accessed is essential.

In such a context and information ecology, enabling learning involves the creation of assessments and environments for knowledge building to enhance collaborative efforts to create and continually improve ideas. This approach to knowledge building exploits the potential of collaborative knowledge work by situating ideas in a communal workspace where others can criticize or contribute to their improvement (Scardamalia 2012 p.238 ).

A communal workspace, a collaborative and formative framework for assessments, and research into the impact of all this on learning futures – now that would be grand to see!

Rhizomatic learning new to you?  You might like this fireside presentation from Dave Cormier about embracing uncertainty.

References

Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). London : Facet.
Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Springer Netherlands.
Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., & Whitelock, D. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report 1. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.

Image: Learning (Photo credit: Anne Davis 773)

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Filed under: Connectivism, Innovation & Creativity, Knowledge networks, Learning and Teaching Tagged: Information ecology, Pedagogy, Praxis
Categories: Planet

A Different Perspective?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 July, 2014 - 05:04
#459991855 / gettyimages.com

Summer is a great time for reflection and throwing ideas around, so here is something that has been floating around in my brain.

The other night on the ESPY Awards, when Stuart Scott was awarded the “Jimmy V Perseverance” award (an amazing speech that you really should watch) for his fight against cancer, his friend Robin Roberts came up to the stage and talked about a new initiative in the hopes to cure cancer.  Although she mentioned it very briefly, my interest was piqued considerably when she talked about the idea of bringing in people outside of the profession to give new ideas to think about curing cancer.  My interest was piqued considerably at the idea that people outside of a profession look at solving a problem.  In education, many of us have spent many years looking at the same problems that the system we are in created; a different perspective on things could be helpful.

I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing people say that people outside of education shouldn’t speak at education conferences because they do not know what it is like to be in the classroom.  The same “growth mindset” that many of us preach seems pretty closed when we hear sentiments like this.  I myself have been guilty of saying, “what would they know, they’ve never had to teach”, yet still love when hearing a student’s perspective about school, when they also have never taught.  We can learn from anyone about anything, and what is important is that we learn to make connections to what we do in the education system.  If you go to many conferences, many of the same ideas shared by educators are ones that are often reiterated from others but with a different perspective or “twist” to the story.  Many people are wanting some vastly different ideas.

Now there is a difference between having a non-educator talk about how to solve problems in the classroom, as opposed to hearing someone’s story from outside of the education realm.  A doctor doesn’t know what it is like to have 30 kids in a classroom, no more than I know what it is like to remove someone’s appendix.  It is important to understand that in any profession we respect that experience often trumps research.  I am not looking for Bill Gates to give me ideas on how to run a school.  I would however be interested to know what Bill Gates has done in his own work to create change and make what he does better.  I would also like to know about the changes that have happened in the music industry, and how people in that field have created an environment where they thrive.  How did Uber come about and what are traditional taxi services doing to change the way they do business? The Edmonton Humane Society has totally changed my perspective on how an animal shelter should look like (it is an amazingly beautiful place and looks a lot different from the small cage that I got my first dog Kobe from), and their outreach to the community through their Twitter account has been engaging and powerful.  How did they get to that point and why did they change?

The thing that education has in common with many other fields is that change has been thrust upon them because of the ease of access to information and the easy ability to connect with one another.  Schools aren’t the only organization that is having to look at drastic change.  Many industries are facing similar challenges. What can we learn from them about what they have done and how can we make it applicable to the challenges we are facing?  Creating those connections to both ideas and people could be extremely valuable to the field of education.

So the idea that has been floating around in my head has been hosting an “innovator summit”. This would have people from different fields that are looking at creating, and have created change in their respective fields.  How did they do it?  What worked? What didn’t?  What could we learn from each other?  This would also include people from the field of education who have been successful in creating valuable changes in their own organizations.  There is a lot that different industries could learn from us and apply to their own work.  Truthfully, if anyone should look at hosting a conference where we can learn from one another, shouldn’t it be the field of education?

I have been tossing this idea around in my head.  Perhaps having an “Ignite” style day with short talks, but with the opportunity for conversations with other people.  Maybe even an “Edcamp” type conference.  The idea is definitely in its infancy.  The one thing that I know I would NOT want is people from different fields coming in to tell educators how schools should be.  I have seen that before and it has been a lot of “how to” on getting students to do better at tests, and behaving, etc.  Are we focusing on “doing things better”, or “doing better things”?  Those are two uniquely different ideas and my hope is that we are moving to the latter.

Maybe this has been done before.  Maybe it hasn’t.  It is pretty hard to have an original idea in today’s world but I would sure love some feedback and thoughts on what this could look like or if this is even something that would be beneficial in our work to help our students.

Thoughts?

Categories: Planet

Global Connectedness

At the recent Flat Connections conference in Sydney, the program included a several “Supporting the Challenge” bootcamps which allowed participants to choose the topics that were of high interest to them. “Global Connectedness” was the theme of one of my offered workshops (bootcamps).

In this session, the following questions and topics were shared and discussed.

  • What is a global community?
  • Some examples of global communities.
  • Where can educators start to connect with the world?
  • What are some of the most popular networking tools to build a community?
  • How can a global community be successfully maintained.
  • Tips for sustaining a global community.
  • Challenges

View the presentation:-


Categories: Planet

I won an academic award!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 17:29

Who could have thought five years ago that in 2014 I would be a recipient of a Faculty of Education Award, from Charles Sturt University?  Not me!

Today saw the official announcement of the 2014 awards, and yes – my name was there.

I have to thank all my colleagues past and present who have made this possible. This is a little special for me, as it encourages me to keep doing what I have been doing to support learning, teaching and innovation in schools and beyond.

Thank you!

Image: Thank you CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by hellojenuine.

 


Filed under: Higher Education Tagged: Award, Charles Sturt University
Categories: Planet

Launching Designing Spaces for Learning – our new subject!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 17:03

Our newest program/course/degree (terminology depends on the part of the world you are in) has been keeping me very busy.  Here at Charles Sturt University I  launched the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) in March 2014.  We have just completed some of the subjects, and I will have to share the outcomes.

But before I do share this, I want to welcome my good friend Ewan McIntosh of NoTosh fame,  to CSU as a newly minted Adjunct lecturer – all ready and engaging as of this week with a new clutch of students. We have people from all around the world, who will be pulling and teasing ideas around with Ewan in the first iteration of the grand new subject.

Ewan said:

When most people find out that they are in line to create a new physical or virtual environment for their school, few have really driven deep into what the research says, and how it might pan out in practice. And, with deadlines in place, and architects producing their “masterplans” based on what they have been able to squeeze out of school communities, the clock is ticking too fast in most cases to begin that learning journey in a timely fashion.

School principals, deputies, librarians and innovator educators can base multi-million dollar decisions on hearsay, gurus’ say-so, and what the Joneses have done with their school. For the initial cohort of students on our inaugural Masters subject on Designing Spaces for Learning at CSU (Charles Sturt University), the story will be very different.

Do visit his blog post Launching a new Masters: Designing Spaces for Learning #INF536. and check out his wonderful welcome video.  Visit the course Facebook Page too!

Perhaps you would like to join our course and his subject in 2015?


Filed under: Design thinking, Future Directions, Innovation & Creativity, Productivity Tagged: Charles Sturt University, Ewan McIntosh
Categories: Planet

Track those new Horizons!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 16:46

While it was published a little while ago, I am still pleased to share the NMC Horizon Report 2014 edition, in case you’ve missed it.

Launched in 2009, the NMC Horizon Report > K-12 Edition broadened the reach of the NMC Horizon Report series to include primary, middle, and high schools. The K-12 Edition explores the key trends accelerating educational technology adoption in schools, the significant challenges impeding it, and emerging technologies poised to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.

I’ve been along for the journey in every K-12 edition as a member of the K-12 Expert Panel, which has been amazing! Now we have this amazing collection that tells an extraordinary story of change, development and innovation in education as part of the mapping of new horizons.  It is fantastic to be involved at this level in education – I love it :-)

> Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 K-12 Edition

Check out the trends, challenges and technology forecast in the report. Look for the opportunities where you can contribute to your school’s development, especially in ways that technology can be embedded into the curriculum programs.


Filed under: Digital Media, Future Directions, Innovation & Creativity, Learning and Teaching, Professional Learning
Categories: Planet

My Incredible Body – An App That Teaches Kids How the Human Body Works | Android 4 Schools

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 11 July, 2014 - 21:27

Comments:

  • From Richard Byrne's "android4schools" site. A free Android app that is designed to help younger students learn how the human body works. The app features eight sections: circulation, muscles, the senses, kidneys & urine, skeleton, respiration, digestion, and brain & nerves. Each section contains short animated videos that explain the functions of each system and how it works. - Rhondda Powling

Tags: android, biology, apps, human body, Science

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Writing Aid - words that describe someone's voice — Lana Corry

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 11 July, 2014 - 20:59

Comments:

  • Downloadable A4 writing aid for quick reference - words to describe someone's voice - Rhondda Powling

Tags: writing, aid, words, poster, voice

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

18 Ways to Use LEGO Bricks to Teach Literacy

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 9 July, 2014 - 14:03

Comments:

  • A great list of links that suggest how you can use Lego to teach literacy. - Rhondda Powling

Tags: lego, literacy, classroom activities, teacher tools

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Which Creative Commons License is Right for me?

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 8 July, 2014 - 16:09

Comments:

  • A useful comic poster from CC Poland offers a good resource to begin discussions about Creative Commons. 6 types of licenses are discussed with with their separate conditions attached to each of them. " - Rhondda Powling

Tags: creative commons, cc, digital citizenship, internet literacy

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Going Paperless: 10 Ways My Use of Evernote Has Evolved Over Time | Jamie Todd Rubin

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 28 June, 2014 - 16:06

Comments:

  • "the way I use Evernote to go paperless has evolved, and while some of the earlier posts I wrote are still useful, they don’t always reflect how I do things today. So I thought I’d use today’s column to describe some of the ways my use of Evernote to go paperless has evolved over the years." - Roland Gesthuizen

Tags: paperless, management, workflow, blog

by: Roland Gesthuizen

Categories: International News

Procrastinator? Blame it on your genes

The Age Technology - 23 April, 2014 - 08:13

New research suggests the tax office should expand the list of acceptable explanations for procrastinators' yearly extension requests and late tax filings. Two possibilities: "I was born this way" and "failure to evolve".
Categories: Planet

Man flu? When 'the flu' is really just a cold

The Age Technology - 23 April, 2014 - 07:54

Contrary to popular (female) opinion, you can have all the symptoms of the flu without being infected.
Categories: Planet

Aboriginal scientific achievements recognised

The Age Technology - 23 April, 2014 - 07:46

While Gallileo thought the moon had nothing to do with the tides, the Yolngu people from the Northern Territory knew better.
Categories: Planet
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