5th blog post: Week 4 CLEM and Community

Pls note references and links to be cleaned up soon.

Activity: What have you chosen to learn “as learner”?

The activity I have chosen to learn about is teaching kids to code. There seem to be many communities on this practice around the world. Many seem to be based in the US, others exist in Australia, the UK. These individuals and companies host their sites online. My engagement with these communities has been superficial. I have only scoured the sites for programs that offered free coding lessons. I haven’t yet engaged with these communities by posting responses to blogs. I get help by Googling for answers to my questions, selecting likely sites and reading their content for ideas.

What have you found already in terms of the four components of the CLEM framework?

Community

I have concluded that many of the communities around this topic are Knowledge Based Learning Communities whose membership comprises of parents, educators, concerned community leaders and product providers such as Tynker.com . The key theme that bonds these people together are the recognition 1) that coding is and will be continue to be extremely important n the future,  2) that children need to become a part of this trend if they wish to succeed, 3) the information technology sector (IT) will continue to provide well paying jobs and 4) the IT sector is currently dominated by men of Asian and white descent and that this imbalance needs to be rectified not only for gender equality purposes but as a means of breaking the poverty cycle.

Van Jones summarizes the above points beautifully in an interview on behalf of his organisation “Yes We Code” – an organisation that aims to teach 100 000 low income kids how to code.

Van Jones

Some of his excerpts include:

  1. “the technology sector [will] be a million workers short in eight years”
  2. “aptitude tests show one out of five kids of any color have an inherent aptitude for the kind of problem solving that is required to be a computer programmer”.

He also suggests that current labelling practices need to change: A conversation with Prince (the singer) was also included:

“Every time you see a black kid wearing a hoodie, you say: there’s a thug. If you see a white kid wearing hoodie, you say: there’s Mark Zuckerberg,” … “I said, ‘that’s because of racism. And Prince said, ‘maybe so, or maybe you civil rights guys haven’t created enough Mark Zuckerbergs.'” Pasted from <https://www.yeswecode.org/van_jones_on_teaching_100_000_low_income_kids_to_code>

The most obvious aspect of these communities is that their product in this case, their ideas, continue. As a result, free and payable products are continually promoted and or developed. The information provided is explicit as opposed to tacit and while it isn’t intellectual, the information provided is experiential. For example, some blogs focus on the parents’ experiences and challenges of getting children to stay focussed with coding Mendez (https://www.atlassian.com/blog/software-teams/why-teach-my-kids-to-code).

Literature:

There’s a lot of literature available on this topic. This includes scholarly, technical, company based and material created from a parental framework. Scholarly material such as journal articles and books are available through databases (provided through academic libraries) and online through Google, Google Scholar and vendors such as Amazon. Other material is available online through blogs, company websites and YouTube.

Examples:

There are a number of examples available.
Company examples include:

https://www.tynker.com/blog/

http://www.educationalappstore.com/blog/5-apps-teaching-children-coding-skills/

The problem with these is that though they give hints, they essentially sell products, so as a network example, I’d say recommend evaluating the product and the information before buying. Scratch https://scratch.mit.edu/ is of course another product – but happily it is free.

School examples:

https://blog.schoolofcode.co.uk/how-kids-and-parents-had-fun-coding-together-a6078a3f0330

https://www.codingkids.com.au/blog/2017/7/6/demo-day-at-corinda-state-school

These seem to showcase events, but the upside is that they can motivate parents to become a more interested and involved parent as they provide lovely pictures of their students and use highly positive words e.g. “great” and “had fun”

Educational websites:

http://www.edudemic.com/the-three-best-free-coding-websites-for-kids/

These are useful as they provide indepth information about where to find resources.

Blogs by people who are genuinely interested in educating parents on hot topics e.g.:
http://www.kars4kids.org/blog/coding-for-kids-the-benefits-are-greater-than-you-know/

https://www.generationcode.com/blogs/news

http://saturdaykids.com/blog/

These are useful as they provide the names of quality coding programs and sometimes highlight their best features.

Model or Schema being used:

The plan is to employ and use the TPCK framework (Mishra and Koehler, 2006). I see all this information as being new.

  1. As I’m a learner, I need to introduce myself to coding concepts. Thus I see myself operating within the Content Knowledge aspect of the framework.
  2. I am also learning how to actively code. Hence the Technological-Content aspect of the framework comes into play.
  3. Eventually, I will be an Aunt who’ll (hopefully) introduce coding to my nephews. This will expand to a Pedagogical-Content aspect as I’ll have enough knowledge to teach them how to code. Also, I will be operating at the very heart of the framework, where the technological-pedagogical-content intersects as not only will I be teaching the content, but will be demonstrating how to use code-learning software and encouraging its use in a fun way.

 

What were the different types of community that Riel and Polin talked about? How might these apply in your context “as student” and “as teacher”? How might this conceptualisation of communities change your practice “as teacher”?

Regarding the Riel and Polin article. As a student within EDU 8117 I find myself lodged somewhere within a Practice and Knowledge Based Learning Community as we don’t know each other, yet have a strong identity with our own professions and interest in digital learning. For me I can easily see that my leaders will have skills in areas I’m interested in, namely education and IT. Learning is both tacit and focused on producing knowledge between all of us.  We participate by constantly producing work and learning from each other by reading each other’s posts, clicking our links and adding posts to each others’ blogs – thus we evolve (Riel and Polin, 2007, pg 40). These are all very useful to me as a student. I assume as a teacher, I will eventually use the information gained from these interactions to apply it in my career as a librarian.

The conceptualisation of communities will change my practice as a teacher by making me more comfortable with actually applying the Seek, Sense, Share Model.  I feel that participation in this course will permit me to take the time to seek out information in general and sense it – by forming opinions and finding the time to evaluate the information. Maybe one day I’ll end up sharing the information by means other than email, maybe by tweeting?, responding to blog posts?, uploading to slideshare?, posting research to ResearchGate or Academia.edu, but not by creating a blog as I don’t have the time at the moment.

References:

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x.

Riel, M., & Polin, L. Online learning communities: Common ground and critical dfferences in designing technical environments (pp. 16-51).

 

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