We Are the Frogs
We all know it’s not true, but it’s still a useful story: if you put a frog in hot water, it will jump out, but if you put it in cool water and slowly boil it, it’ll just sit there, because there’s never a moment when it says, “Wow, this is hot!”
As with frogs, so with computing education. This post on “The Collapse of Computing Education in English Schools” could just as well have been written about Canada, the US, or almost anywhere else. It’s been a crisis now for so long that many of us have stopped really noticing how much trouble we’re in—certainly, I see no sign that the people with the power to change things have this on their “must fix” list.
Which makes this post by Mark Guzdial all the more poignant. iPads in the classroom? It’s the kind of thing that gets someone headlines, but if teaching methods don’t change—radically—it will have just as much (i.e., just as little) impact as all the other tech-in-the-classroom wizardry that has failed us over the past century.
We’re about to start another online run of the Software Carpentry course with almost 100 participants from half a dozen countries. A lot of things didn’t work in last fall’s run; we’re hoping to fix some of those this time around, or at least make different mistakes, so that we can learn a little more about how teaching and the web can be adapted to one another. It may not give school trustees a pile of boxes to stand beside at a photo op, but changing practices is a lot more important than any number of shiny new toys—and a lot harder.