I'm also a supporter of good analog tools and taking time to unplug. Tonight on #UTedChat we were having an excellent discussion all about #MayThe4thBeWithYou (like I said, nerd alert!) and an excellent question was posed by one of our moderaters, Michael Hakkarinen (don't try to pronounce it, you might hurt yourself!):
Q5: #UTedChat Droids were sci-fi in 1977. Today they're in our pockets & roving Mars! Do students today need to learn robotics? Why?— Michael Hakkarinen (@EdTecHakk) May 5, 2016
What an awesome, thought-povoking question! And yet, how would you answer? What are your thoughts on the idea of kids learning robotics?
My answers (yes there were a few of them), were:
A5 I think Ss need to be introduced to #coding & #robotics but they don't have to do them all the time. Good for well rounded! #UTedChat— Derek Larson (@lars3eb) May 5, 2016
Also, having just returned from 2 intense days of training w/ @Raspberry_Pi org, I'm 100% on board for MORE #coding! #UTedChat— Derek Larson (@lars3eb) May 5, 2016
@jamesballif @codeorg Even if they don't need #coding for their job, learning it will help them better understand digital world. #UTedChat— Derek Larson (@lars3eb) May 5, 2016
We need to remember that it's not good to deal in absolutes as that is the way of the Sith! Ss need lots of learning options. #UTedChat— Derek Larson (@lars3eb) May 5, 2016
Other than the fact that I nerded out a little with that last one, I stand by the idea that students need to have a well-rounded academic career. I think all students should learn a little coding, but they don't have to take advanced classes in it, but they should know a little bit. Why do we have all students take a Life Science and a Physical Science if they aren't going to all become scientists? Having that background knowledge of how Science works is very helpful for their lives. So then is having a background knowledge in coding and Computer Science. We live in a digital world and the better our students understand that, the less likely they are to believe what some can do with computers is magic and more that it's just lines of code placed in the correct order.
Having just returned from #Picademy and being immersed with Raspberry Pi and Python programming, I am even more sure of the above statements. I'm not a professional-grade programmer, but I better understand what some of my professional programming friends are doing. I am better rounded (and I don't just mean my belly after the amazing food!) and able to understand what is happening behind the screen.
We need to remember that it's okay to teach Computer Science to ALL students but we also need to realize it's equally okay to teach more of the analog skills as well. That's part of why I still support teaching and using cursive handwriting and handwriting in general. And it's totally okay for students to choose their mode of technology for assignments, whether high- or low-tech, it should be about the project and not the tool.
So let's get our tech on and help our students to do the same, but don't forget the pencil and paper in this high-tech world we're moving into!