“Take out your textbook and turn to page 82.” As if the class you’re in isn’t boring enough without the added bonus of reading pages from a book you don’t understand, and to be perfectly honest, really don’t care about. Even worse than having to actually read the textbook, is having to lug it around all day. One textbook might not weigh very much, but when you start having more than one, it starts to add up. Most high school students are taking maybe five to seven classes. If you have a textbook for each one, that’s a lot of stuff you’re carrying around, in addition to the many binders, notebooks, pencils, pens, everything you need to get through each class. That’s where digital textbooks come in. Having a textbook online means that students don’t have to carry their books with them. They can leave them at school, and just use the one online at home.
It is impossible to know the future, but I have hopes for how technology might improve the learning environment in the future.
I hope technology will be able to analyze students’ progress in real time. Continue reading
Computer Science in education is spreading all around the world. One way that computer science awareness is spreading is with the Hour of Code. This week is Computer Science Education Week and teachers around the world are teaching an Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a hour long introduction to computer science and aims to enroll 10 million student to participate. They provide several different tutorials such as learning code to create apps, websites, and more.
Here is a link to learn more about the Hour of Code and CSED Week:
This piece of educational technology is actually for kids. It’s the LeapPad Ultra by LeapFrog. Growing up I had the old LeapPad. It was a giant plastic book that came with a stylus and you could touch things on the book pages and it made sounds. It was really cool for a kid my age at the time. Now LeapFrog has taken a step farther and created a kid-friendly tablet. It only allows the kids to search for age appropriate things and has lots of apps for learning numbers, letters, reading, math, and has a drawing function! With this, they can learn nearly any basic subject they want all while the parents rest easy knowing the kids won’t run into anything potentially emotionally scarring.
Websites can be incredibly useful resources for education. Unfortunately, this requires that teachers make effective use of websites, which many do not. One of the biggest reasons for this problem is most likely that many teachers lack technological literacy, at least to the degree required to integrate the internet into their teaching process. Luckily, there are systems already online just for this purpose: Learning Management Systems (LMSs).
Online LMSs like Edmodo and Schoology are services made exactly for the purpose of allowing teachers to use the internet to organize their classes. These websites serve to create an online component to any course by allowing teachers to put their assignments on the internet and allowing students to view them from anywhere.
A new and emerging popular technology is the 3D Printer. 3D printers uses various processes to make a 3-dimensional object. The objects can be made in various shapes and sizes. 3D printers have been used for industrial use and for consumer use. They’ve been used in several industries like in space, architecture, automotive, defense, and many others. 3D printers have been known to make things from turbines to toy cars to a camera lens. In school, any students taking a graphics class can design something on Photoshop and transfer it to a 3D printer to be created. A robotics class can use a 3D printer to create new parts for a project, and those parts will be fully functional. Students can use their engineering skills to think outside of the box and bring one of their creations out of the screen and into their hands. 3D printing provides a visual aid to help illustrate a hard to grasp concept, and it enhances the hand on learning. A biology teacher can create a 3D model of a heart or of a bone to teach students about the human body. It allows students to get creative and put their interests into their own work.
Over the course of the last few years I have been teaching Scratch Clubs after school for students in the Middle School grades 6-8. At these clubs, students follow my powerpoint lesson and learn the basics of programming in MIT’s Scratch, a visual coding language designed to teach kids the basic practices of programming. My lessons bring students through from start to finish on a simple game, and in the past I have covered a racing game, asteroids clone, and space invaders clone.
The actual powerpoint contains an explanation of what needs to be done on each slide as well as screenshots that show any code or other functions that need to be performed. The slides are accompanied by a verbal explanation of what is being done as well as troubleshooting that is done by myself and two friends who come to help make sure the class goes smoothly.
The classes usually run for a little over an hour once a week after school for a series of 8 weeks. Attendance for the class has grown over the last few years and rose to nearly 20 students for the fall class this year.
I think this class is a great opportunity for Middle School students. Many students do not get any exposure to programming until at least High School, and this class often sparks the interest of students who may not have known that programming is something that they may be interested in pursuing.
Computer Science Education Week is an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. Code.org is producing CSEdWeek for the first time this year. For this year they are trying to get 100 million students to learn one hour of code. The way it works is that teachers and basically anyone else to host an event where students can participate in learning code. So far they have more than 50 million students ready to participate in those events, with more counting every second. The red dots in the picture on the right represents all the events are currently planned by the teachers, which there are a lot more than it appears (here is the full map of all the events planned). Students can sign up at any moment with teachers creating an event anytime they want. The countries that appear to have a massive amount of events are the United States and Italy. CS is an important subject for everyone to learn because it gives much potential to those who learn it and gives them an opportunity to be involved more in the modern world of technology. Having code can involve students into discovering a new field of study they haven’t looked into before, and maybe introducing them in something they want to do for a job in the future. CSEdWeek is a great way to get students involved in the knowledge of technology.