stormy1
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:53 pm

It is impossible to know how things will end up once it is in the hands of educators and students.

The first step to that is programing.

Once the foot is in the door it can evolve in different directions.

There is a place for the PI in a product development class but that would be a 303 class.

To me a good program would look like this:

101 - intro to computing. teach the basics of how a computer works, network basics and light programing/scripting. (html/javascript is perfect for this)

202 - computer programing

303 - take everything learned in 101 and 202 and apply it to a real world product using a team approach.

libreuniverse
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:43 am

stormy1 said:


101 - intro to computing. teach the basics of how a computer works, network basics and light programing/scripting. (html/javascript is perfect for this)

202 - computer programing

303 - take everything learned in 101 and 202 and apply it to a real world product using a team approach.


Honestly if they get enough Raspberry Pi's out there, 303 will take care of itself. Just do 101 and 202 and it's progress already.

Y'know, when Negroponte started OLPC I think Pi is exactly the sort of thing (not the only thing) he hoped would happen. It's the most MIT Media Lab you can get for $35 (Mindstorms cost more, and sometimes do less.) Is anyone working to get his endorsement? It shouldn't be too difficult.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:06 am

bredman said:


With all the great ideas being discussed, it may be forgotten that we have to create a solid boot/development environment and a set of teaching aids.


All with some form of coding, and hopefully not from scratch? I figure the Pi will be useful before the Official distro for it is out, but that might show my ignorance of the roadmap...

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:32 am

Official distro will be out with the first release. Education stuff being worked on for the educational release later in the year.
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:27 pm

I think bredman has a point, but I'm not sure there can be any answer to address those points until the final product works and can be delivered.

Much of the content of this forum seems to be dedicated to the idea that we can educate all children into becoming programmers, or at least in having some understanding of how to write code. I'm afraid that's not realistic. An awful lot of children are going to have absolutely no interest in how to code at all.

That poses some problems for this project, like for examplle how you can run CS as a core curriculum subject, when only a few of the pupils are ever going to become programmers. That's not helped when you're only presenting your product as being about teaching programming. It needs to be about more than that, it needs to be about other things to. Like teaching computer based graphic design, for all those budding artists who will in future be designing gaming graphics. It needs to be about teaching security, for all those future budding security auditors... yeah, I'll leave that one alone.

There are many more aspects to computing than programming, and I'm afraid the way this comes across at the moment (from this forum) is that this is a programming tool. That's not a bad thing, it just creates limitations for the final product which brings into question the viability of it as a teaching tool. Promoting it as being useful for much more than just teaching programming wouldn't be a bad thing.

Someone said something about office skills being taught somewhere else in the curriculum, I would say it belongs in English* (replace with your own language where English isn't it). Moreover I would suggest RasPi should be being promoted as the ideal platform for teaching it on. It's cheap enough that the English department of the school could have their own computers for teaching it on. It's easily re-imagable thus making fixing the software on it easy for the English teacher, who would of course be aided by having a dedicated office platform SD Card image. The same could be said for art... There are so many potential applications across so many different curriculum subjects, which the price of RasPi makes possible. Promoting it as only being a programming tool is going to limit where it can fit.

However for now it's going to be a programming tool, because until it's a working deliverable platform it has to be a programming tool.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:12 pm

manicgeek said:



Much of the content of this forum seems to be dedicated to the idea that we can educate all children into becoming programmers, or at least in having some understanding of how to write code. I'm afraid that's not realistic. An awful lot of children are going to have absolutely no interest in how to code at all.

That poses some problems for this project, like for examplle how you can run CS as a core curriculum subject, when only a few of the pupils are ever going to become programmers. That's not helped when you're only presenting your product as being about teaching programming. It needs to be about more than that, it needs to be about other things to. Like teaching computer based graphic design, for all those budding artists who will in future be designing gaming graphics. It needs to be about teaching security, for all those future budding security auditors... yeah, I'll leave that one alone.

There are many more aspects to computing than programming, and I'm afraid the way this comes across at the moment (from this forum) is that this is a programming tool. That's not a bad thing, it just creates limitations for the final product which brings into question the viability of it as a teaching tool. Promoting it as being useful for much more than just teaching programming wouldn't be a bad thing.

Someone said something about office skills being taught somewhere else in the curriculum, I would say it belongs in English* (replace with your own language where English isn't it). Moreover I would suggest RasPi should be being promoted as the ideal platform for teaching it on. It's cheap enough that the English department of the school could have their own computers for teaching it on. It's easily re-imagable thus making fixing the software on it easy for the English teacher, who would of course be aided by having a dedicated office platform SD Card image. The same could be said for art... There are so many potential applications across so many different curriculum subjects, which the price of RasPi makes possible. Promoting it as only being a programming tool is going to limit where it can fit.


Sort of disagree with a few points there. I don't think we are dedicated to making ALL children programmers. That's completely unrealistic - but what we will hopefully find is that more people will understand what its all about and more people become interested to look further. There must be many good computer programmers out there who have never programmed. It's finding them.

Yes, there are more aspects to computing than programming, but this device doesn't cater for them. It's not powerful enough to run project management tools for example. Those sort of things are best taught using a desktop - a Raspi is just not a realistic choice for that sort of teaching - its not powerful enough for a really good experience. And not in English classes - why would you teach spreadsheet use in English classes?! They belong in ICT classes, where some aspects are taught at the moment (in the UK).

There may be future Raspi versions that are more suited to the role however. As Arm chips get faster and cheaper, you will be be to run bigger packages on the device and give good responses etc.

But version one, it's really all about programming. IMO.
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:01 pm

I am a bit biased here, as I do 'Freelance Tech Support' as a side.

I feel that it would be better if all those who make consistent use of computers had at least some understanding of programming.   I have made the repeated observation that those that are familiar with programming (they need not be Software Engineers) tend to have a better experience and understand of computing in general.  The level of understanding does not need to be extreme (not talking about CS this time), though should be enough that the person can write a good quality program (Top down design, good commenting, a good understanding of algorithms and implementation, an understanding of one or more high level language(s)). These skills are simple enough that any one that has the aptitude for any computer related profession should have no trouble with them.
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:50 pm

DavidS said:


The level of understanding does not need to be extreme (not talking about CS this time), though should be enough that the person can write a good quality program (Top down design, good commenting, a good understanding of algorithms and implementation, an understanding of one or more high level language(s)). These skills are simple enough that any one that has the aptitude for any computer related profession should have no trouble with them.


Bollocks. That level of understanding is way over what most people using computers need or are, indeed capable of. I've noted in a couple of your recent posts this arrogance - "I was doing this or that by the time I left primary school, I learnt this skill whilst in the womb" etc. Well, I'm sorry but it appears the rest of the world isn't quite as clever as you think they are. Us normal humans are not prodigies.  Sheldon Cooper's are not commonplace.

Give it a rest.
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:27 pm

manicgeek said:


Much of the content of this forum seems to be dedicated to the idea that we can educate all children into becoming programmers, or at least in having some understanding of how to write code.


They should be give the opportunity to learn to code and to learn computational thinking. No one has said that we should "educate all children into becoming programmers". This would be silly and it is a straw man.


I'm afraid that's not realistic. An awful lot of children are going to have absolutely no interest in how to code at all.


A lot of children have no interest in maths, history or music. Those should still be on the curriculum though.


That poses some problems for this project, like for examplle how you can run CS as a core curriculum subject, when only a few of the pupils are ever going to become programmers.


In the same way that music and foreign languages are on the curriculum but few pupils will ever play in a band or need to speak French fluently.


It needs to be about more than that, it needs to be about other things to. Like teaching computer based graphic design, for all those budding artists who will in future be designing gaming graphics.


This is done to death in ICT. My ICT A-level students are currently doing a whole unit on graphics, as are my year 11 BTEC students.


There are many more aspects to computing than programming, and I'm afraid the way this comes across at the moment (from this forum) is that this is a programming tool.


Programming is a hook. Of course computing concepts and computational thinking are the ultimate goal. Like letting a kid mess about on the piano will hopefully lead to them learning to read, write and understand music.


Someone said something about office skills being taught somewhere else in the curriculum, I would say it belongs in English* (replace with your own language where English isn't it).


Not sure what you consider "office skills",  but if you mean word processing and presentations, perhaps DTP, then good luck getting the English dept to sign up to teaching that . (In all fairness they are doing their best to teach people how to read and write in a country where one in five school leavers are functionally illiterate or innumerate). But what about modelling and analysis? What about data handling? Etc.

There are so many potential applications across so many different curriculum subjects, which the price of RasPi makes possible. Promoting it as only being a programming tool is going to limit where it can fit.
The UK curriculum requires (with exceptions) that all subjects use ICT in their teaching. It has required this for years. Yet it generally does not happen or it happens badly. Why? Because most teachers are not very good at ICT! Or even "office skills". The Pi will not fix this.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:17 pm

scep said:

The UK curriculum requires (with exceptions) that all subjects use ICT in their teaching. It has required this for years. Yet it generally does not happen or it happens badly. Why? Because most teachers are not very good at ICT! Or even "office skills". The Pi will not fix this.
I'll just take this one of them responses, for brevity, and maybe I'll come back to the rest later.

The Pi is perfectly placed to fix exactly that.

It's a simple system which can have pre-designed and built software stack(s) available to it. That's a fairly critical point. Re-imaging an SD card isn't rocket science, especially given that the community here have already started working on a tool designed to do exactly that. You're not asking all them teachers to learn programming, or even how to reload a PC OS. So they only need to focus on learning at the application level.

And:

It's dirt cheap (when compared to James suggestion that office skills will require a PC to teach). I'm sorry to disagree with you James, but we did use computers for office work (well I didn't personally, but many people did) before processors started running in GHz, and spreadsheets would be Maths, wordprocessing would be English, as would presenting.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:29 pm

manicgeek said:





It's dirt cheap (when compared to James suggestion that office skills will require a PC to teach). I'm sorry to disagree with you James, but we did use computers for office work (well I didn't personally, but many people did) before processors started running in GHz, and spreadsheets would be Maths, wordprocessing would be English, as would presenting.


I'm not saying it can't be used to run and teach something like LibreOffice, just that its going to be pretty slow, and the desktops schools (sometimes) already have are better suited

You may need to use other less demanding apps - Abiword (?) for example. But then you are limited in what is available - I cannot think offhand of a spreadsheet alternative to Calc for example.

Desktops are good for office style tasks, the Raspi is good for programming style tasks. You can of course do either on either, its just which is better suited to the task in hand

That said, if the school in question doesn't have any desktops with office style apps, then the Raspi could of course be used. In those situations where there is no alternative, it will be great, which is perhaps where you are coming from.

I agree with the GHz thing. We did some pretty amazing stuff in 1GB of memory and 133MHz. Not sure where all the cycles go nowadays.
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:46 pm

JamesH said:

I agree with the GHz thing. We did some pretty amazing stuff in 1GB of memory and 133MHz. Not sure where all the cycles go nowadays.

That's easy: they're wasted by people who say: "Who cares?  Memory is cheap!  CPU cycles are cheap!  Electricity is cheap!  Developer time is expensive!".  Here's my favorite pair of quotes on the subject:


Hamming: "The purpose of computation is Insight, not Numbers."

Gio Wiederhold: "The number of computations without purpose is Out of Sight."


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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:01 pm

manicgeek said:


scep said:


The UK curriculum requires (with exceptions) that all subjects use ICT in their teaching. It has required this for years. Yet it generally does not happen or it happens badly. Why? Because most teachers are not very good at ICT! Or even "office skills". The Pi will not fix this.


I'll just take this one of them responses, for brevity, and maybe I'll come back to the rest later.

The Pi is perfectly placed to fix exactly that.


And for brevity I will say this: no computer or computing paradigm or technology or hardware will ever fix  the fact that most teachers are not very good at ICT. Ever.


So they only need to focus on learning at the application level.


Bingo! And to get by in German you only need to focus on learning how to speak it. Of course most teachers can't speak German either.

N.B. Technicians fix PCs in school when they go wrong. Most human beings - teachers included - don't know how they work, never mind what's inside them. Could be a bunch of altruistic goblins for all they know (and care )

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:15 pm

It would appear that between you both you've just come up with an ideal programming exercise, "Develop (and/or improve) an efficient wordprocessing application your English teacher can use" etc, etc.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:22 pm

manicgeek said:


It would appear that between you both you've just come up with an ideal programming exercise, "Develop (and/or improve) an efficient wordprocessing application your English teacher can use" etc, etc.



Just make sure it has underlining and huge, ugly WordArt in it. Plus paragraphs should be separated only by an a three character indent by default

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:00 pm

Programming, as an activity, underpins everything we do with computers.

The skills that we learn when we learn to program are, in general, skills that we can use in many other contexts, including all of the design/create tasks that get honourable mention in other posts in this thread.

Chief amongst these ( In my opinion ) is the ability to predict the consequences of our actions. ( Or in a lesser sense, realise that our actions have consequences - something that many people seem not to understand ! )

Logic in four dimensions if you will.

Sometimes our predictions are inaccurate, we call these episodes "bugs".

I would be the last to argue that programming is the only useful skill, but would contend that it is a very valuable skill that will be in short supply for a long time to come.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:05 pm

Actually, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of the pupils CS classes being about developing applications that they (and their peers and teachers) will actually use. There's an awful lot of potential for a massive range of potential learning in there.

For example the application could be developed across muliple different classes, thus you get into the whole area of code repositories, checking code in and out and contributing to a bigger project.

Discussions around the UI layout. There's the actual code itself and the importance of clear structure, and understanding the structure of code which isn't yours. Code notation... it just gets better and better from the pov of teaching them not only coding, but doing it as part of a group.

Surely at some point in teaching them coding the benefits of teaching them that group development ethos must become very important, if they're to look at programming as a potential profession. Where better to start that than at the beginning... not right at the beginning, I don't mean that.

They can actually be part of something they and their peers will use, in other aspects of their education... you'll need to keep a wary eye out for games being surreptitiously hidden inside the word processor though

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:29 pm

manicgeek said:


They can actually be part of something they and their peers will use, in other aspects of their education... you'll need to keep a wary eye out for games being surreptitiously hidden inside the word processor though


Surely nobody would do that !

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:41 pm

I read nearly all the posts here and to me it mirrors the discussions on using the R-Pi for hacking projects like, home media servers and connecting to other devices.

In an ideal world there would be 1 device that could all things for all people, with full supporting information and infrastructure that's available for free.

Well, to me the R-Pi gets so close in so many ways that the enthusiastic just want it to be able to do 'just a little more'.

Live within the limits of what can be done today with what we got.

Prove it works and then extend it to do more, deliver more, encourage more.

For me what I would like to see if kids getting excited about tinkering and programming.  What they do with afterwards is up to them.
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:35 am

JamesH said:

Bollocks. That level of understanding is way over what most people using computers need or are, indeed capable of. I've noted in a couple of your recent posts this arrogance - "I was doing this or that by the time I left primary school, I learnt this skill whilst in the womb" etc. Well, I'm sorry but it appears the rest of the world isn't quite as clever as you think they are. Us normal humans are not prodigies.  Sheldon Cooper's are not commonplace.

Give it a rest.



I am not certain of this 'Sheldon Cooper' Reference?

Though I do ask what is so difficult about doing things by breaking down a series of instructions (eg the classic brushing your teeth example) into a number of chunks of simpler instructions ....  This embodies both an understanding of algorithms, and top down design.   Yes I was doing much of this in primary school, just because it is not offered formally at that level does not mean that many students are without the needed aptitude, I think that if they were taught in a manner that would appeal to them, and with out the higher terms, you would be surprised how many of them pick it up and how quickly (they do not have the (mis)preconceptions that most people develop later though often before learning CS.  No arrogance just observation.

As to your statement: "That level of understanding is way over what most people using computers need or are, indeed capable of."

I am well aware that most people that currently use computers do not have this level of knowledge, this is an unfortunate side effect of the current educational system combined with the companies that market to the ignorance.  This does not mean that the people are not capable of this level of understanding (if they just over come the comon preconceptions [most of which are way off base]),  And indeed I am sure that there are a few that truly are not capable of this, to these few I would ask how much difficulty they have in a computer based profession (often more than they should).
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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:07 am

Maybe off topic, but I think there are a lot of people that want to do cool things without doing a lot of programming.  So here is my solution:
http://www.raspberrypi.org/for.....n-platform

I chose PHP-jQuery because of the huge number of people who work in those languages.

I have a short shaky demo at http://pilauncher.org that I hope to replace in a few days, but if you have patience maybe you can see my vision for it   I'm also already in discussion with a graphics designer and I have a small budget to pay for some help to move it along.  I do need the programming folks, but why program a servo to "Pan" back and forth more then once? How about change it's speed? I know that's what software libraries are for, but I bet many people who are artistic or mechanical in nature have re-written that little bit of code a bazillion times.

Even if nobody else uses such a platform I will because I can do fun things with very little work and spend my time on the hardware instead.

If anyone sees my vision I'd be happy for any help I can get to bring this platform to life   Maybe then people will like robots and start wanting more then this will provide.  Then they will program more.

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Re: Too much focus on programming?

Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:13 pm

JamesH said:


I agree with the GHz thing. We did some pretty amazing stuff in 1GB of memory and 133MHz. Not sure where all the cycles go nowadays.



I did most of what Java does (minus the GUI/widget bits) in 64K (plus extra for data) and 16MHz.

Don't get me started on what we did with 1K and under 4MHz!

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