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Education

Video GameStart Uses Minecraft to Teach Kids Programming (Video 2) 18

As we said last week, "You can't teach all programming by using Minecraft to keep kids interested, but you can use Minecraft, Java, and Eclipse to give them a good start." That's what Tyler Kilgore and his colleagues at GameStart are doing. Watch today's video (number 2), go back to last week's video (number 1) if you missed it, and read both days' transcripts for the full scoop.
Education

Video GameStart Uses Minecraft to Teach Kids Programming (Video 1) 30

You can't teach all programming by using Minecraft to keep kids interested, but you can use Minecraft, Java, and Eclipse to give them a good start. That's what Tyler Kilgore and his colleagues at GameStart are doing. Watch today's video (number 1), tomorrow's video (number 2) and read both days' transcripts for the full scoop. EDIT: "Tomorrow's video" should read, "Monday's video."
Education

Video CanSat Helps Students Make & Launch Sub-Orbital 'Satellites' (Video) 22

The Magnitude (motto: "Powered by Curiosity") "Can-sized satellites" aren't technically satellites because they're launched on rockets that typically can't get much higher than 10,000 feet, or as payloads on weather balloons that can hit 100,000+ feet but (obviously) can't go beyond the Earth's atmosphere. But could they be satellites? Sure. Get a rocket with enough punch to put them in orbit and off you go -- something Magnitude Co-founder and CEO Ted Tagami hopes to see happening in his local school district by 2020. Meanwhile, they'll sell you assembled CanSat packages or help you build your own (or anything in between), depending on your schools resources and aspirations. Have a question or an idea? Talk to Ted. He'd love to hear from you. Use the Magnitude Web form or send email to hello at magnitude dot io. Either way works.
Programming

Video Starcoder Uses a Multiplayer Game to Teach Programming (Video # 2) 11

We ran video # 1 about Starcoder yesterday and linked to the project's Kickstarter page. At that time, the project had raised $3221 out of a $4000 goal. Today they're up to $5836, which means they've reached their goal and then some, and they still have four days of Kickstarting to go. Nice! It looks like Starcoder will soon be available to a lot more students than are using it now, and that (hopefully) there will be enough server capacity to accommodate students who want to sign up and play on their own, not necessarily with help from their schools.

To learn more about Starcoder, you may want to check out these video clips on Vimeo that not only show you how the game was developed, but give you a look at how it's played. Note: this is video 2 of 2. The transcript covers both videos, plus some material we were forced to edit out of the videos due to length restrictions.)
Education

Video Starcoder Uses a Multiplayer Game to Teach Programming (Video # 1) 37

Starcoder, says the project's Kickstarter page, "is a multiplayer online space action game that teaches kids coding as they play." Their page also points out that it's easier to learn as a group than it is to learn alone. The Starcoder Kickstarter project has collected $3221 at this writing, out of a $4000 goal, and they have until June 17 to come up with the rest. So please take a look at Starcoder, see how it works and why it is unquestionably a more interesting way to learn programming basics than the traditional "highly theoretical and (frankly) boring manner."

Starcoder starts with Blockly. Then, as students advance to higher game levels, moves to JavaScript. Yes, there are levels. Also competitive play, since Starcoder is a massively multiplayer online game. In fact, a big reason for the Kickstarter project is to expand server capability so that kids can play from home, not just in school or during after-school computer classes. One more thing to note: The Win2Learn team behind Starcoders is composed of professional educators and designers. They've been working on STEM education for a while. Want to see some of the thinking behind Starcoder? They have some video clips on Vimeo that not only show you how the game was developed, but give you a good look at how it's played. Does it sound good? Do you want more kids to have access to an ever-improving Starcoder? Then you know what to do. (Note: This is video 1 of 2. The second one will run tomorrow. The transcript covers both videos, plus some material we were forced to edit out of the videos due to length restrictions.)
Education

WA Gov. Sides With Microsoft: Philanthropy-Funded K-12 CS Education Now the Law 166

theodp writes: During public hearings on WA State's House Bill 1813, which took aim at boys' historical over-representation in K-12 computer classes, the Office of the WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction voiced concerns that by relying on the generosity of corporations, wealthy individuals, and nonprofits to fund STEM, computer science, and technology programs, learning opportunities would be limited to a small group of students, creating disparity of opportunity. "If this is a real priority," pleaded Chris Vance, "fund it fully" (HB 1813, like the White House K-12 CS plan, counts on philanthropy to make up for tax shortfalls). But legislators in the WA House and Senate — apparently more swayed by the pro-HB 1813 testimony of representatives from Microsoft and Microsoft-backed TEALS and Code.org — overwhelmingly passed the bill, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature. Not to worry. On Wednesday, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee, who was perhaps influenced by the we-need-to-pass-HB-1813 blogging of Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, who coincidentally is not only responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work, but was also co-chair of Gov.-elect Inslee's transition team. The WA state legislative victory comes less than 24 hours after the San Francisco School Board voted to require CS instruction beginning with preschool.
Education

Video Linux World Domination Creates Shortage of Linux-Skilled Workers 72

Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin doesn't use the phrase 'world domination' in these videos, but he could. He lists enough computing niches where GNU/Linux is the major player -- from supercomputers to the next generation of automotive systems -- that with or without world domination, Linux has obviously become an extremely important, widely used operating system that has grown amazingly since Linus Torvalds first shared his humble kernel with the world in 1991. With great popularity has come a great need for people who know how to administer and otherwise work with Linux, so the Linux Foundation is developing new courses in tandem with massive open online course (MOOC) provider edX. Unlike some of the Linux Foundation's previous course offerings, their edX ones are free to audit, and the cost for certification (if you want a cred, not just knowledge) is lower than many IT certification tests and certificates.

These videos (both visible today) were made remotely, with Timothy Lord at one end in Austin, TX, and Jim Zemlin at the other end in Tokyo, Japan. Their sound quality suffers from the distance involved, but they are generally intelligible -- and, of course, you can always choose to read the transcript instead of watching the videos.
Education

Video Learn About The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools Program (Video #2) 11

Quoting our intro from yesterday's 'Part One' video: 'The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools program (TEALS to its friends), started with one volunteer, a Berkeley CS grad named Kevin Wang who taught high school for a while, then went to Microsoft for a much higher salary than he got from teaching. But before long, he was getting up early and teaching a first period computer science class at a Seattle-area high school that was (sort of) on his way to work.'

TEALS is now in 130 high schools and has 475 volunteers in multiple states but still has a long way to go (and needs to recruit many more volunteers) because, Kevin says, fewer than 1% of American high school students are exposed to computer science, even though "Computer science is now fundamental in these kids' lives." He doesn't expect everyone who takes a TEALS class to become a computer person any more than chemistry teachers expect all their students to become chemists. You might say that learning a little about how computers and networks work is like knowing how to change a car tire and cook a simple meal: skills that make life easier even for people who don't want to become mechanics or cooks.
Education

Video Learn About The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools Program (Video) 17

The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools program (TEALS to its friends) started with one volunteer, a Berkeley CS grad named Kevin Wang who taught high school for a while, then went to Microsoft for a much higher salary than he got from teaching. But before long, he was getting up early and teaching a first period computer science class at a Seattle-area high school that was (sort of) on his way to work. Then some other local high schools came to him and wanted similar programs. Kevin's a smart guy, but not smart enough to be in four places at once, so he recruited coworkers to join him as volunteer computer science educators. Today (as this is being written) TEALS is in 130 high schools and has 475 volunteers in multiple states. Kevin works full time on the program, sponsored by Microsoft, but 78% of the volunteers now come from other companies.

TEALS has stuck with Kevin's original 1st period (usually somewhere between 7:30 and 9:30) schedule not just because it's convenient for many of the volunteers, but because (contrary to teen-nerd stereotypes) 60% of their students are in after-school sports and 20% are in band. The program is growing steadily and they're looking for more volunteers. We'll have another video with Kevin tomorrow, and that's when the transcript of both videos will appear. Meanwhile, you can read the TEALS FAQ and see how you might fit in with this group or one of many other similar ones either as a volunteer, as a student or as a teacher or school administrator interested in giving your students at least a basic grounding in Computer Science. (Coincidentally, today's 'Ask Slashdot' is about tech skills for HS students -- an unintentional but excellent tie-in.)
Education

Video Volunteer Bob Paulin Turns Kids on to Tech with Devoxx4Kids (Video) 12

You can call Bob Paulin 'Coach' and he'll probably respond, because he's been coaching youth football since 2005. Now he's also coaching what you might call 'youth science and technology' as the Chicagoland organizer of Devoxx4Kids.org. A motto on the group's website says, 'Game programming, robotics, engineering for kids in a fun way!' And that's what the group is all about, as Bob says in this video (and in the accompanying transcript for those who prefer reading over watching).
Education

Video Using Microfinance to Develop Coding Talent (Video) 23

Here's a quote from the CodersTrust website: 'CodersTrust is the brainchild of Ferdinand Kjærulff. As a Captain of the Danish army he served as recovery officer in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. He pioneered a recovery project with the allied forces, bringing internet and e-learning to the citizens of the region in which he was stationed. The project was a massive success and inspired him to eventually create CodersTrust – supported by Danida – with a vision to democratize access to education via the internet on a global scale.' A lofty vision, indeed. But with help from the original microfinance company, Grameen Bank, and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), it seems to be coming true. Note: If you click the "Read" button below this paragraph, the video interview will play automatically.
Education

DuinoKit Helps Teach Students About Electronics (Video) 61

This is something Timothy Lord ran across a few months ago at a Maker Faire near Atlanta: The DuinoKit. Think of it as a fancier (and pricier) version of the venerable Radio Shack Electronic Learning Labs and you won't be far off. Plus, as the name DuinoKit implies, it's based on an Arduino, which means that right off the bat it packs a lot more learning punch than the Radio Shack kit. DuinoKit was financed by a KickStarter campaign that asked for $19,500 and raised $57,478 from 250 backers. And for those of you who worry about being called nerds because you're carrying a DuinoKit around, you can relax. It comes in a 'Secret Agent Carrying Case.' Really. Read their What is the DuinoKit? Web page carefully and you'll see. (Alternate Video Link)
Education

Video Duolingo is a Free, Crowdsourced Language Learning App (Video) 75

This is an interview with Duolingo engineer Franklin Ditzler. He's not a smooth marketing guy getting all rah-rah about the company and what it does, just a coder who enjoys his job and seems to like where he works and what he's doing. Note that Duolingo is a free language teaching tool, and they seem determined to keep it free for language students by selling crowdsourced translation services to companies like CNN and BuzzFeed.

Duolingo founder and CEO Luis von Ahn is an associate professor in the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Department, and was one of the original developers behind reCAPTCHA. Google acquired ReCAPTCHA in 2009 for "an undisclosed sum," a bit of history that led TechCrunch to speculate back in 2011 that Google would buy Duolingo within six months -- which didn't happen. But don't despair. It's still possible that Google (or another big company) might absorb Duolingo. We'll just have to wait and see -- and possibly improve our foreign language skills while we wait. (Alternate Video Link)
Education

Video The Foundry Will Soon be a Makerspace in Bellingham, Washington (Video) 35

The Foundry has people, tools, machines, and a place to operate. The only thing it lacks is insurance, and insurance is a problem because Chief Creative person Mary Keane's vision for The Foundry includes children instead of limiting membership and machine use to people over 18. Other makerspaces have managed to allow children, so it's likely that Mary will find appropriate insurance before long and get the doors open. Besides being a creative space for children, not just adults, Mary is excited about having The Foundry use recycled plastics in its 3-D printers, which hardly any makerspaces do right now, although many are surely interested in this way to lessen their impact on the Earth. (Alternate Video Link)
Education

Video Phil Shapiro says 20,000 Teachers Should Unite to Spread Chromebooks (Video) 101

Phil Shapiro often loans his Chromebook to patrons of the public library where he works. He says people he loans it to are happily suprised at how fast it is. He wrote an article earlier this month titled Teachers unite to influence computer manufacturing that was a call to action; he says that if 20,000 teachers demand a simple, low-cost Chromebook appliance -- something like a Chrome-powered Mac mini with a small SSD instead of a hard drive, and of course without the high Mac mini price -- some computer manufacturer will bite on the idea. Monitors? There are plenty of used ones available. Ditto speakers and keyboards, not that they cost much new. The bottom line is that Phil believes Chromebooks, both in their current form factor and in a simpler one, could be "the" computer for schools and students. Maybe so, not that Android tablets are expensive or hard to use. And wait! Isn't there already a Chromebox? And even a Chromebase all-in-one Chrome-based desktop? In any case, Chrome-based computers look pretty good for schools and libraries, especially if and when prices for the simplest members of the family get down to where Phil thinks they should be. (Alternate video link)

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