Watchworthy Wednesday: Connecting Hip-Hop and Coding

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Comment teen codes hip-hop dance move

How can young people use coding to express their interests in areas such as hip-hop dance? To explore this question, Progressive Arts Alliance and the MIT Scratch team will host the Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit, a two-day workshop for educators and program leaders to learn about creative pathways into computing. The summit, to be held Oct. 21-22 in Cleveland, Ohio, will bring together a diverse group of people who lead programs for young people, especially for youth in underserved communities. Forty participants will be chosen on Sept. 5, so there’s still time to apply. The summit

Closing Digital Gap: Libraries Offer Youth STEM Programs

Thursday, June 02, 2016 Comment girl works on coding program on ipad

It seems today that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and coding are constantly in the news, especially in relation to youth and learning. But, despite near incessant news coverage, there is a continuing uneven access for youth to STEM and coding classes in school, as well as after school. Gaining prominent attention at the national level is President Obama’s recently released Computer Science for All initiative, focusing on offering more computer science classes. But, it does not emphasize the opportunities for interest-driven learning outside of the school structure.   One group — libraries — working

Software and Digital Data in Education

Monday, August 24, 2015 Comment coding learning software and digital data in education cover

For the last two years, a group of colleagues from across the universities of Stirling, Edinburgh and Bristol have been working with me on a seminar series exploring how code acts in education. As the project comes to an end, we have produced a free, open access e-book: “Coding/Learning: software and digital data in education.” The seminar series was designed to address two particular matters of concern: first, the extent to which learning processes, practices and spaces are increasingly mediated and shaped through code; and, second, the emergence of a movement based on the idea of

The Future and History of Learning to Code

Thursday, April 02, 2015 Comment old computer in museum

Much of the discussion around ‘learning to code’ is couched in futuristic terms. By learning to code, we are told, young people will be equipped to become the innovators, tech entrepreneurs and civic leaders of the future. Yet, much less is said about the history underpinning learning to code, and how such an appreciation of its past might enrich our understanding of its future. Future Codes Before considering its past, it is worth reviewing some current claims about learning to code and its potential contribution to the future. For example, a recent UK report entitled “Young

Going Beyond ‘Learning to Code’: Why 2014 is the Year of Web Literacy

Monday, January 06, 2014 Comment teacher and student working at laptop together

In January 2012 the Mayor of New York tweeted, along with thousands of other people, that he planned to ‘learn to code’ during the course of that year. Whether or not he was successful in this venture, it’s a good indication of how ‘learn to code’ has captured the zeitgeist and become a movement. A recent Computer Science Education week, for example, was  re-branded as ‘Hour of Code’ – and features celebrities urging everyone to just learn a little bit of code. The argument is largely economic and aligned with agendas around science, technology, engineering

This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code

Thursday, November 28, 2013 Comment colorful stacked spools of thread

Proclamations like ‘kids need to learn to code!’ may be accurate but, without some context and conceptual unpacking, they can be rather unhelpful. Thankfully, fellow DMLcentral contributor Ben Williamson has done a great job of problematising the current preoccupation with coding by asking questions like: “What assumptions, practices and kinds of thinking are privileged by learning to code? Who gains from that? And who misses out?” In many ways what follows builds upon these ideas so it’s worth reading Ben’s article first if you haven’t already. Along with the landscape issues identified in Ben’s article there’s a couple of

Programming Power? Does Learning to Code Empower Kids?

Thursday, November 14, 2013 Comment close up of hands working at laptop

The idea that young people should learn to code has become a global educational aspiration in the last few years. What kinds of questions should digital media and learning researchers ask about these developments? I want to suggest three approaches: first, to take a historical look at learning to code; second, to consider it in political and economic context; and third, to understand its cultural dimensions. The importance of learning to code is expressed in catchy slogans and ideas like Douglas Rushkoff’s “program or be programmed,” and the view that if you are not working on

Arduino and Learning: H.S. Teacher Ariel Simons

Monday, September 30, 2013 Comment female student working on circuit board at computer desk

A powerful recipe for engaged learning: Show students how to command actions in the physical world – make lights blink, sounds sound, motors move, robots roam, sensors sense. Combine this concrete act of control over physical objects activity with the abstract power of programming – show students how to make those lights blink in response to the sounds, make the sensors guide the motors. Apply this combination of software and hardware hacking to measuring the radiation levels near Fukushima and aggregating radiation data, a task that the Japanese government apparently failed to do for months. Now

‘Making’ and Education Reform: Learning to Ride the Wave

Thursday, June 06, 2013 Comment large art metal installation for open make space

At this moment in time, on both sides of the Atlantic, digital making and the maker movement is enjoying its time in the sun. A combination of policy concerns, technological developments, learning theories, social opportunities and articulate enthusiasts have come together and, although the maker movement is a bit of a minority sport, it seems to have broken through into the mainstream. In the UK, for example, there is a terrific program of support offering a range of activities from maker-faires to hacking events to coding clubs working with apps and mash-ups and the new pliable,

DIY Coding

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 Comment shadow of presenter on stage

Like many in the digital media and learning community, I am a fan of the free and open source computer programming language, Processing, which can be easily downloaded at  Processing is an incredibly accessible computer language for beginners, but it is also a stepping stone to widely used professional programming languages like Java and C++ that may contribute to success in corporate and academic arenas for those who are code literate. There is a large do-it-yourself community made up of individuals who use Processing for everything from robotics to art projects to sequencing neighborhood Christmas