The recent struggles of online publishing are widely discussed. Despite many success stories and significant growth, the outlook in the media world seems to be doom and gloom, with plateauing audiences and scarce revenue. I too am on the record saying that the macroeconomics are unfavorable for text-based digital media seeking venture-capital-style scale. On the…
One need not look to superstars such as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates to justify reasons for using code and programming logic in the classroom. There’s plenty of literature that illustrates its positive learning outcomes. Coding in the classroom is linked to improved problem solving and analytical reasoning, and students who develop a mastery of coding have a “natural ability and drive to construct, hypothesize, explore, experiment, evaluate, and draw conclusions.”
But there are other compelling reasons for integrating code in the classroom.
1. Coding is a new type of literacy.
Wired Magazine reported that reading and writing code is the new literacy. Those students who master it are better prepared for a technical revolution that spans cultures and language boundaries. That’s because coding isn’t just a language. It’s a way of thinking about problem solving.
2. Coding is a tool to improve educational equity.
Coding in the classroom is a means of bridging the digital divide. That means more than granting technological access — it’s a way for all students to use technology for creative engagement. Without coding in the classroom, many students in lower socioeconomic communities will miss the opportunities it affords. In fact, Holfeld et al (2008) found that schools in poorer neighborhoods restricted computer use to rote learning rather than using technology for creative engagement. Discouraging a more creative use of technology in the schools creates a butterfly effect. In Washington State, where 93 percent of high schools don’t offer AP computer science, a 2012 study found that out of 1,200 AP computer science students, just 48 were black or Hispanic. By making computer science a required course for high school, especially in lower socioeconomic schools, educational equity and opportunities improve.
3. Coding offers inclusion.
Temple Grandin, author and professor at Colorado State University and an autistic adult, said, “Without the gifts of autism, there would probably be no NASA or IT industry.” Non-profits such as nonPareil are acting on those talents. Created by two parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the organization actively recruits high school students with ASD, trains them in software development, and then places them in IT jobs. The environment, a cross between a school and a company, is a natural segue between high school and the adult workplace.
Knowing there are programs for kids with ASD is good news for parents who shoulder the responsibility. Of those children with ASD who do enter the workforce, nearly 80 percent will be unemployed or underemployed. By teaching coding to students with developmental disabilities, teachers aren’t merely harnessing and developing innate talents. They’re better preparing these kids, making them more marketable and employable in a high-tech economy.
4. Coding can improve neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity, a term that essentially means the brain can change, has assumed a pop-culture status, and any activity linked to it takes on a magical, brain-promoting aspect. While not all activities genuinely classify, in the case of foreign language acquisition, there is evidence. Researchers in Sweden observed visible brain changes in those children and teens who learned a foreign language. Over a three-month period, the brain structure in those who acquired a second language grew, specifically in the hippocampal area (which is involved in learning new material and spatial navigation), and in three areas in the cerebral cortex. Students who “had better language skills than other students, who put in more effort in learning, experienced greater growth.” In another study, Mechelli found that children who acquired a second or third language, even a computer language, showed functional changes in the inferior parietal cortex.
5. Coding improves STEM proficiencies.
Analysts suggest that by 2020, there are expected to be one million more computing jobs than students in the U.S., which could leave an untapped market of $500 billion. Currently, the U.S. is ill prepared to fill these jobs. In one international study across 65 countries, the U.S. ranked 23rd or 24th in most subjects and 27th in math and science. Girls were particularly at a deficit. Forbes Magazine reported, “Women hold nearly half of all jobs in the U.S., but less than 25 percent of all STEM jobs.” By making coding a classroom requirement, educators are better equipping students for this market.
Despite the documented benefits, coding in the classroom is offered in only a smattering of U.S. schools. Less than ten percent offer AP computer science, and students who have access aren’t necessarily being encouraged to pursue programming.
Why the Lack of Emphasis?
Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, cites lack of trained teachers as the biggest obstacle to getting computer science into the classroom, and software developers have little motivation to shift from the private sector into education. Why teach if the corporate world is far more lucrative? Partovi feels that policy makers and private funders must come together and fund training for teachers in computer science. In the interim, TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) is placing computer scientists in high school classrooms across the country. Their goal is two-fold:
- Get computer science education to the students.
- Educate teachers in code literacy to make them technically proficient to teach coding.
A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows a bias in how teachers perceive abilities of male and female students when it comes to STEM subjects. Researchers found that “when teachers knew the children’s names and identities, they graded the girls lower in math than the outside grader, while scoring the boys higher.” The trend had long-term ramifications. Those girls tracked in the study were less likely to sign up for advanced math, science, and technology courses in high school.
If computer science isn’t a requirement, why bother changing policies? Currently, 15 states allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation. Private schools have an easier time implementing curricular changes. The problem is in federally funded schools. With tight budgets, public schools are mired in layers of decision making that makes it hard to change curriculum. The key, with the help of corporate sponsors, is to help policy makers see that computer science merits the same weight as math and science prerequisites.
Educators and parents who agree should write to their state’s department of education, and get involved with non-profit organizations such as Code.org and companies such as Microsoft who are working to improve digital literacy in the schools. For digital initiatives with the developmentally disabled, nonPareil can partner with schools, and organizations such as TEALS can expose students and teachers to the opportunities that coding in the classroom provides.
Is coding part of your school’s curriculum? Please talk about it in the comments below.
They Outsmart College Students In Figuring Out Gadgets. But is that good or bad news?
‘Ever wonder why children can so easily figure out how to work the TV remote? Or why they “totally get” apps on your smartphone faster than you? It turns out that young children may be more open-minded than adults when it comes to solving problems.
‘Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have found that 4- and 5-year-olds are smarter than college students when it comes to figuring out how toys and gadgets work.
‘So they recruited over 100 preschoolers — 4- and 5-year-old boys and girls — and brought them into the lab. The kids had to figure out how to turn on a music box that could be activated by placing clay shapes either individually or in combination on top of the box. After being shown a whole series of different shapes and…
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Finding the best city to live in as a digital nomad can take a while. In our globalized world, countries can differ vastly from individual cities with regard to opportunities and level of development. In many countries the cities are entities by themselves contrasting with their host countries. The cities are internationally connected while rural areas are not. Good examples of this are Buenos Aires in contrast to Argentina; Bangkok in contrast to Thailand; or Shanghai in contrast to rural China. Come to think of it, in the western world the same thing occurs as well, for instance, with Paris and France.
For those interested in the location independent lifestyle these cities can be interesting to live in. They can provide best of both worlds. On one hand there is the immersive cultural experience which will enrich your life experiences and will inspire you. Not to mention the good food. On the other hand there is the accessibility to the internet, modern living standards, and the general ease of doing business from that country.
Below is a list of great cities to live as a digital nomad, according to my experience. As a measuring stick I used the same principles as for evaluating countries. These are: quality of living (relative to cost), internet speed and quality, infrastructure and freedom of movement, the visa regime, ease of adapting to the cultural norms, and general attitude of locals to foreigners.
Thanks to the Personal Video IndustrialComplex — tens of millions of video-enabled smartphones, feeding countless hours daily to video-sharing behemoths like YouTube — rock concerts, presidential inaugurations, fourth-grade school plays and even midair near-disasters can all be considered “content” now, inspiring us all to tap our inner Edward R. Murrow and record the event for posterity.
But even as public gatherings, from the world-historical to the intimate, evolve into a sea of glowing blue screens, a backlash has started to take root. An improbable assortment of critics — mindfulness gurus, twee indie rockers, even, seemingly, Pope Francis — have started to implore these armchair videographers to drop their phones and actually start living again.
I’ve read this article on The New York Times and it touches many aspects (very superficially I may add) of globalization, contemporary civil society, social, political, economic and value changes emerged by modernity.
It misses some aspects and doesn’t develop (many) others, this is my sociological perspective and rigor speaking, nevertheless it’s interesting.
Second: there’s no such thing as “iPhone Age” NY Times editors, there is an “digital age”, “information/knowledge age” and the “mobility age”, etc.
“Viral”, “audience”, “academics” and “paparazzis” concepts should be better defined and developed on the article, and please, PLEASE, don’t compare “celebrities” with “audience” and regular “people” and social agents, they stand on a field apart from the “regular joe”.
According to an intriguing report in New Scientist, Google is building a next-generation information database called Knowledge Vault that’s designed to index and store what we can reasonably term facts. And not just some facts — the Vault is intended to continually catalog and store all facts about our world and our history.
The Vault project is building upon Google’s existing crowdsourced database, Knowledge Graph, and so far has cataloged about 1.6 million facts. Google researchers will present a paper on Knowledge Vault next week at the Conference on Knowledge Discovery at Data Mining, in New York.
It’s all part of a larger initiative, in the information technology arena, to improve the manner in which we interact with machines and databases. Similar knowledge bases are being built by companies like Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft and IBM.
One of the first practical applications for these ultra-database systems is to create a new generation of virtual personal assistants.
Down the line, the Knowledge Vault could serve as the foundation for advanced augmented reality networks. The database would provide instant data, via heads-up display, on virtually anything you look at.
The Knowledge Vault could also be used, eventually, to model all of human history and society as a vast collection of pure data. That knowledge, in turn, could be extrapolated to make predictions about the future.