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If this is the Second Coming of Coding Will There Be Rapture or Rejection?

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Presentation at Australian Council for Computers in Education Conference September 2016

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If this is the Second Coming of Coding Will There Be Rapture or Rejection?

  1. 1. If this is the Second Coming of Coding Will There Be Rapture or Rejection? Peter Albion University of Southern Queensland
  2. 2. Coding grabbed headlines in 2015 • Federal Parliament • Shorten to Abbott • Will you “support coding being taught in every primary and secondary school?” • Abbott to Shorten • Will kids go to work as coders at age 11? • Later confirmed coding was in the national curriculum • Queensland launched Advancing Education • #codingcounts + coding academy • Fast-tracking Digital Technologies subject • Robotics focus
  3. 3. Coding, programming & computational thinking • Coding is the headline grabbing buzzword • Programming specifies the logic of a solution • Coding expresses that in a suitable language • Coding is a subtask of programming • Terms often used interchangeably • Computational thinking is broader again • Key idea in Australian Curriculum: Technologies
  4. 4. Can teachers teach coding? • Former Chief Scientist • Primary teachers are not sufficiently prepared to teach coding • Proposed solutions • Attract higher quality students • Boost STEM courses in teacher preparation • Improve professional development • Recruit specialist teachers to mentor • No short term solutions here • Teachers are concerned about learning to code before teaching it • Risks turning kids off rather than on http://www.afr.com/news/policy/education/are-teachers-ready-to-teach- coding-ian-chubb-doesnt-think-so-20151210-glkibe
  5. 5. Why teach coding? • Common answers • Future employment • Development of logic & problem solving skills • Trucano (2015): Coding to learn rather than learning to code • Supporting learning across the curriculum • Chubb (2015): Future-priming vs future-proofing • Prepare to take advantage of technological change flickr photo by Harlow Heslop https://flickr.com/photos/harlowheslop/16587677387 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
  6. 6. History of coding in Queensland schools • Some of us were around schools in the 1980s • 1975: Coding arrived with computing in mathematics syllabus • Few schools had computers • Mark cards, send away, wait, debug, repeat • Shift to programmable calculators • More agile cycle • 1978: Microcomputers began to arrive in schools • Apple ][, Commodore PET, Tandy TRS80, Ohio Scientific • Lacked commercial software, coding in mathematics • Few enough for state-wide annual report of inventory flickr photo by m01229 https://flickr.com/photos/39908901 @N06/7078658229 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
  7. 7. First coming of coding for all • Logo – based on Lisp, a list processing language • Developed by Papert from 1967 • Version for Apple ][ in late 1980s • Popularised in 1980s on microcomputers in schools • Papert saw computers teaching kids • Argued kids should teach computers • Power of learning by teaching • Need to clarify ideas and express them clearly • Computer as endlessly patient learner flickr photo by Benjamin Chun https://flickr.com/photos/benchun/ 5502826711 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
  8. 8. Papert & learning • Constructivism based on work with Piaget • Children learn language & more by immersion • Favoured ‘microworlds’ for learning by immersion • Turtle microworld embodied geometric and mathematical ideas • Floor turtle was mechanical and expensive • Transitioned to computer screen • Constructionism • Learning is best demonstrated by building some artefact flickr photo by Tom Morris https://flickr.com/photos/tommo rris/2584829655 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license
  9. 9. Rise & demise of Logo • Logo was extended and used into the 1990s • Early Lego robotics • LogoWriter and other variants • Few teachers or schools got beyond simplest uses • Drawing shapes • Few teachers knew of more uses • From mid-1980s application software took focus • First coming of coding was rejected flickr photo by gurdonark https://flickr.com/photos/46183897@N00/7614684138 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
  10. 10. Second coming of coding for all • Coding persisted and expanded into 1990s and beyond • Specialised subjects in secondary schools • No widespread adoption in general education • 20teens: Renewed interest in computer science in schools • Friedman (2006) argued transdisciplinary workers needed some coding • Corporations are interested in securing future workforce • Governments are concerned about future of economy • Curricula are being revised to include • Programming, coding, computational thinking flickr photo by ©aius https://flickr.com/photos/caius/2300154566 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
  11. 11. ACT – Digital Technologies • Creating digital solutions as focus • Computational thinking as key idea • Elements of programming and coding as core for all • Curriculum review (Donnelly & Wiltshire, 2014) • Sceptical about inclusions and Australia leading but other countries are doing it http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technolo gies/digital-technologies/structure
  12. 12. Coding enthusiasts • Sterling (2015) • Coding is central to modern technology • All should understand possibilities • Some will need proficiency • Compared to place of Art in education • Cultural significance but only some are artists • Opposed to laptops, smartphones are enough • That genie is out of the bottle flickr photo by palbion https://flickr.com/photos/palbion/6789459911 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license
  13. 13. Coding sceptics • Merkel & McNamara (2015) • A little bit of coding may be dangerous • Misrepresents IT with simplistic approaches • Encourages ad hoc tinkering • IT requires systematic software engineering • Structured team work • DT curriculum is futile • Demands too much of learners and teachers flickr photo by palbion https://flickr.com/photos/palbion/19670 594729 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license
  14. 14. Educator view • Stuckey (2015) • Taught Logo in mathematics curriculum • Learned BASIC years ago • Early microcomputers had few options • Very limited applications software • No longer codes • Knows very few who do • Not creating digital solutions? • Response • Focus on logic & computational thinking • Leave coding outside the classroom flickr photo by Terry Freedman https://flickr.com/photos/terryfreedman/6763119437 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
  15. 15. Coding as new literacy • Political slogan – does it hold up? • Stuckey (2015) argues for science as new literacy • Coding tucked under • Literacy suggests necessity for daily life • Is that the issue? • Much of schooling has limited everyday utility • Valued for broader benefits • Important that teachers and students see value flickr photo by planeta https://flickr.com/photos/planeta/14995530910 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
  16. 16. Visual programming • Scratch, Snap!, Tynker, etc. • Scratch from MIT Media Laboratory • Papert’s group & Logo • Puzzle piece format avoids syntax errors • Supported by online community • Millions of shared projects
  17. 17. Is history repeating? • Logo foundered • Teacher skills limited potential of applications • Creating digital solutions? • Risk remains • What problems can limited coding solve? • Scratch community may help • Sophisticated projects offer ideas • Useful code is complex – can teachers support it?
  18. 18. Neither rapture nor rejection is sane • Rapture • Coding is the new literacy • Multilingual or lingua franca? • Critical literacy is needed to assess the claims • Coding is key to future employment & prosperity • Many workers in IT industries do not code • Rejection • We have sufficient coders and don’t need more • Too few teachers are prepared • It’s all too hard
  19. 19. A sane response • Falls between extremes • Society needs coders • Coders need colleagues with other skills • Visual design, process analysis, etc. • Knowledge of coding, programming, computational thinking • Enables understanding value & implications of code • Recognising problems with digital solutions • Understanding risks and benefits • Second coming of coding • Depends on understanding value for all flickr photo by smoothgroover22 https://flickr.com/photos/smoothgroover22/151 04006386 shared under a Creative Commons (BY- SA) license
  20. 20. The value of coding • Learned BASIC & other languages as hobbyist • Developed applications to support administration • Taught IPT, Logo, HyperCard, etc. • Occasional coder • Residual value • Learning new applications • Raising expectations about quality in systems • Seeing potential digital solutions • Spreadsheets, macros, etc. • Enhancing use of technologies • Wing (2006) computational thinking • Universally applicable attitude and skill set
  21. 21. Digital natives & immigrants • Digital natives & digital immigrants based on age (Prensky, 2001) • Discredited view (Bennett et al., 2008) • Not necessarily age related • Technologies change rapidly • We are all perpetual digital immigrants • The digital natives are not coming to save us flickr photo by Minnesota Historical Society https://flickr.com/photos/minnesota historicalsociety/5096894782 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
  22. 22. Digital visitors, residents & renovators • Alternative metaphor with choice (White & Le Cornu, 2011) • Visitors come with purpose and depart quickly • Residents are comfortable and settled • Builders create digital spaces (Jones, 2011) • Renovators adapt digital spaces to suit • We need some builders – engineers, programmers, coders • Most of us need skills for renovation • Mere coding is not sufficient • Computational thinking is fundamental to digital solutions flickr photo by Steve Dorman https://flickr.com/photos/60060337@N02/12245266863 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license
  23. 23. Creating digital solutions • Digital Technologies • NOT about making every child a programmer/coder • Developing computational, design and systems thinking • Creating digital solutions • Implies working with real problems & needs • Requires teachers who create digital solutions • Challenge • Assist teachers to become digital residents & renovators • If not rapture, at least not rejection flickr photo by palbion https://flickr.com/photos/palbion/28946449805 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license
  24. 24. Peter.Albion@usq.edu.au