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General Chat Thread, BBC Click - Can a 15 computer solve the programming gap? in General; BBC Click did a piece this week about teaching kids in the classroom to program rather than use Word. BBC ...
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    JJonas's Avatar
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    BBC Click - Can a 15 computer solve the programming gap?

    BBC Click did a piece this week about teaching kids in the classroom to program rather than use Word.

    BBC News - Can a 15 computer solve the programming gap?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    Can a 15 computer solve the programming gap?
    No. Something like the 1.50 PicAxe 08 has been around for many years. You do need other bits to be able to program it, including a PC, but it is simple, cheap, and actually engaging to kids; yet it is ignored in the curriculum. Other articles mention the simplicity of yesterdays computers as being part of the key (suggesting perhaps that the complexity of todays PC's are a barrier) - yet there are more tools round now, certainly plenty of free, accessible programming languages - but they are not taught in schools.

    The thing that will solve the programming gap is to actually TEACH programming. It doesn't matter much what the platform is, what matters is spending time, energy, enthusiasm and expertise actually TEACHING programming as a discipline.

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    Quite interesting, although a lot of the things on there have been said on here numerous times. And one line which stood out was "this teacher has ignored the national curriculum"...how long can they do that for? If the school get poor grades because they dont learn the national curriculum it wont be very long until they revert back to the national curriculum. Unfortunately at the moment most teaching computing isn't computing, it's office/admin skills. How often do any of us perform a mail merge or a flyer because it's in our JD?

    I dont think any new device will change the availability to teach programming as I dont think it is a technical problem(as you have facilities to teach it now). To do that you will need to change the curriculum and ensure you have staff with the skills to teach it. And I would take a quess that with the current teachers qualifications it wouldn't be possible to change it to include programming without significant training provided. This isn't a bash at teachers, just an opinion that either people have either never learnt any programming or have forgotten most of what they did know. And looking at all the cuts by the government, I dont see there being any money to force through such changes, although I would like to be wrong and more "computer skills" to be taught in schools.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by penfold View Post
    either people have either never learnt any programming or have forgotten most of what they did know
    There's the problem - the perception that programming is actually difficult, or that you need to memorise a bunch of stuff to be able to program a computer. Programming isn't difficult, you just need to get the general idea, any details you can look up as you go along. You don't need to change the national curriculum, you just need to teach bits of it as exercises for which writing a computer program might be one way to find a solution.

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    It won't help teaching programming because most IT Teachers don't even know the first thing about programming. If they did they would get proper jobs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    It won't help teaching programming because most IT Teachers don't even know the first thing about programming. If they did they would get proper jobs.
    The needle on my Troll-O-Meter just broke the glass and flew out of the window. There's only smoke coming from the poor blackened sizzled remains.

  7. Thanks to pcstru from:

    CyberNerd (6th June 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    There's the problem - the perception that programming is actually difficult, or that you need to memorise a bunch of stuff to be able to program a computer. Programming isn't difficult, you just need to get the general idea, any details you can look up as you go along. You don't need to change the national curriculum, you just need to teach bits of it as exercises for which writing a computer program might be one way to find a solution.
    I agree especially at the level they are talking about in schools. I learnt programming through Pascal and did it for years. Now while I never actually used it in my work, I did use the theory that I was taught. The construction of a language and good programming techniques and whilst I admit I dont actually like to program, it has helped that I have been able to cobble together scripts (admittidly lots of which are from here) which make my job easier because I can understand what they do and adapt what I have to fit. However from my experience of the amount of training that was required when Moodle was introduced, I cant imagine too many staff would be willing to teach programming without additional training simply because they fear it will be difficult to do.

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    Gibbo's Avatar
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    Already discussed last month here:

    Tiny PC for Schools

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    The needle on my Troll-O-Meter just broke the glass and flew out of the window. There's only smoke coming from the poor blackened sizzled remains.
    The same thing just happened to my sad but true-o-meter there must have been some labeling confusion somewhere

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    jinnantonnixx's Avatar
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    I watched Click last night; David Braben was scathing of ICT, referring to it as 'typing'.

    I'd definitely buy this kit, it reminds me of the hobbyist days of the early '80s. The nearest thing I've bought to that is the NSLU2 micro Linux box. I changed the firmware to OpenSlug and got it running as a primitive web+media server. It had no graphic output, though, it was all through SSH.

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    I'd like to see Arduino in secondaries - programmed in c-like language, loads of libraries and help out there and it's about 12 per board, no software or licencing cost. Plenty of interface boards or you can make your own.

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    SteveBentley's Avatar
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    We learned to program on 80s 8-bit machines because that was the way they worked and the only way to get them to do cool stuff. When you turned it on you got a command prompt and you'd experiment and type something random in and see what happened. Your mate at schools showed you the good old

    10 PRINT "STEVE IS COOL"
    20 GOTO 10

    trick. You'd buy a magazine with the complete source listing of a game, spend hours typing it in and start to notice the patterns like FOR loops, IF statements, the brackets around functions. Hell the Spectrum even had those commands printed on the key tops.

    We learned to program 80s computers because that's how they worked, and that was how you scratched an itch back then.

    Nowadays the average user doesn't care what a for loop is, nor do they need to. The GUI hides all of the fun and interesting stuff from them. For all they've got a lot more advanced, computers are a lot more boring nowadays.

  14. Thanks to SteveBentley from:

    Martin (6th June 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveBentley View Post
    For all they've got a lot more advanced, computers are a lot more boring nowadays.
    But JavaScript in web pages are a perfectly good way to start programming - they need no resources, work on pretty much every platform (including phones) and the code-compile-test cycle consists of saving your file and hitting "refresh" in the browser.

    What might be interesting to try with the above device is a build-your-own-computer club. It would be easy enough for children to do a spot of CAD to create their own Commodore 64-style all-in-one case complete with keyboard ready to plug in to a home TV. You could use an Atom motherboard if you wanted - everything all on-board, nothing really to go wrong, maybe just soldering a power switch.

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    Pish, who needs to do all that long-winded CAD stuff? Just get one of these and away you go! Of course, the price tag might put off the average school computer club.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    But JavaScript in web pages are a perfectly good way to start programming - they need no resources, work on pretty much every platform (including phones) and the code-compile-test cycle consists of saving your file and hitting "refresh" in the browser.
    Perfectly good but not quite as easy as print "your text here". It has also been around for literally a decade without being picked up by the teachig community at large unfourtunatly. With javascript you really have to have an HTML page with a control to write into and so a lot of the simplicity is lost when you have to tack in the complexity and possible errors that could be created by a simple character switch on your event handler or document markup. Even if you prebuild the document they loose a lot of the sence of achivement from doing it themselves as a chunk has been preprepared. You just loose some of that simplicity when you have to introduce maths looking stuff for the most basic (pun intended) of tasks.

    bring back qbasic
    Last edited by SYNACK; 6th June 2011 at 05:32 PM.

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