Seymour Papert, one of the grand old men of educational technology, died last week at age 88. Long before the personal computer and the Internet, long before this generation’s computer heroes like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs brought the digital age to the classroom, Seymour Papert and his colleagues realized that computers would change education. They developed the first computer language for children in 1967.
Until recently Apple’s icons were a colorful, friendly bunch: like the original classic apple logo with a bite out of it; the wonderfully expressive--if silent-- speech bubble. But the latest arrival, Byte the Swift Playgrounds’ hero, while every bit as colorful, is built like the mating result of a hammerhead shark with a pear; it looks like the digital incarnation of a child’s nightmare. Yes, Yes, I know, kids will probably love it!
At the June 27, 2016 ISTE famed futurist Dr Michio Kaku spoke to the assembled educators about the coming “digitization” of many industries. He thinks it is only a matter of time--and not much time at that!--before many--maybe even most-- jobs now held by humans will be handled more cheaply and efficiently by robots. If my own past is any guide, I think he’s right. But he was also quick to point out that there were some jobs that he didn’t see replaced by artificial intelligence any time soon--if at all. Teaching, Dr Kaku believes, is one of those jobs. So far nothing digital has appeared on the horizon that looks likely to replace the classroom teacher. I’ve had reason to agree with him there too...
The momentarily stern-looking gentleman in this image gave the opening keynote address at the recent ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, June 26 through 29, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. I’m certain his face is familiar, but do you know his name? I didn’t, although I feel like I’ve seen him a thousand times on TV explaining everything from time-travel to warp-drives (neither of which exists, of course; but after he got through explaining them I did finally understand why!). And with his infectious enthusiasm and shock of gray hair, he is hard to miss.
I just came across some school-rating figures that surprised me: according to the personal finance website WalletHub based in Washington DC, South Carolina public schools were rated 45th in the nation in educational quality in 2015. That’s 45th in a field of 51. That’s not a good score. The reason this low score surprised me is that I had recently read an interesting Internet post that described at least one South Carolina school district as very up-to-date, progressive and STEM oriented. I guess I thought that would be the same for the entire state!
Personally, I can't remember a president since Eisenhower that has tried as hard to inspire young people to undertake a STEM career as has President Barak Obama. And yes, I can remember the Eisenhower Administration and the day Sputnik went into orbit and changed the world forever! John Kennedy’s administration might have set the nation’s course for the moon in 1961, but I doubt we could have achieved that without the impetus provided four years earlier by Sputnik orbiting the Earth.This drove the country to increase spending on what we know today as STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Until that moment, we had thought ourselves invulnerable. Sure, the Russians had the bomb too, but they had nothing with wings to deliver it across the thousands of miles separating us as up-to-date as our own Strategic Air Command’s B-52 Stratofortress. And then suddenly, they did…
Why go from STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)?
TEACHING NAO ROBOT TO DO THE RIGHT THING