Wednesday, May 17, 2006

probing naive understandings of computing concepts

Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio, replied:
"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."
Dr. Paul Chandler has created a wiki about probing naive understandings of computing concepts.

He writes:
Over the last couple of years, I've been turning an idea around in my mind; it's basically seeking to better understand "how students understand computing concepts". For those who might know of "children's science" in the area of science teaching, the idea is to apply the same sorts of ideas to the understanding of computing concepts (and yes, I am deliberately using 'computing' rather than IT or ICT). Another way to put it would be to 'probe the naïve understandings of computing'.
This was of great interest to me because when I was a science teacher I used the New Zealand Unversity of Waikato Learning in Science Materials. They had developed whole units of work (electricity, force etc.) which would start by teasing out existing viewpoints held by children and build on that. I thought they were brilliant.

WRT computing I also think it would be valuable from the perspective that some teachers seem to believe that their students know more than they do.

It's also an issue for me because of the new part of my job: teaching new arrivals, many from Africa, basic computing skills.

I've written a few entries to this wiki and have been following the interesting conversation between Paul and Tony Forster about whether or not immersion is the simple answer to this question.

Amongst other things, I raised the issue of file extensions, that they provide meaningful and important information and yet they are hidden by default in Windows systems. Once again there is interesting discussion about this topic.

I hope to see you at Paul's wiki.


Anonymous Artichoke said...

I can still remember my intense excitement the first time I heard Roger Osborne talk about the Waikato LISP project materials - It changed the way I thought about, planned for, and taught science (and other stuff) forever.

If Paul Chandler can create something similar wrt computing concepts would be fascinating to see

PS Thanks for the readings - have enjoyed new ideas

8:52 PM  

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