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Connected Code

Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming

Yasmin B. Kafai
Quinn Burke
foreword by Mitchel Resnick
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Connected Code
    Book Description:

    Coding, once considered an arcane craft practiced by solitary techies, is now recognized by educators and theorists as a crucial skill, even a new literacy, for all children. Programming is often promoted in K-12 schools as a way to encourage "computational thinking" -- which has now become the umbrella term for understanding what computer science has to contribute to reasoning and communicating in an ever-increasingly digital world.InConnected Code,Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke argue that although computational thinking represents an excellent starting point, the broader conception of "computational participation" better captures the twenty-first-century reality. Computational participation moves beyond the individual to focus on wider social networks and a DIY culture of digital "making." Kafai and Burke describe contemporary examples of computational participation: students who code not for the sake of coding but to create games, stories, and animations to share; the emergence of youth programming communities; the practices and ethical challenges of remixing (rather than starting from scratch); and the move beyond stationary screens to programmable toys, tools, and textiles.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31924-9
    Subjects: Education, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    Digital media and networks have become embedded in our everyday lives and are part of how we engage in knowledge production, communication, and creative expression. Unlike the early years of computers and computerbased media, digital media are now commonplace and pervasive. Digital media have escaped the boundaries of professional and formal practice and the academic, governmental, and industry homes that initially fostered their development and have been taken up by diverse populations and noninstitutionalized practices, including the peer activities of youth. Although forms of technology uptake are diverse, a generation is growing up in an era when digital media are...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Mitchel Resnick

    I first met Seymour Papert more than thirty years ago. He was giving a talk at the West Coast Computer Faire, a free-spirited gathering of early personal-computer enthusiasts (in many ways, a forerunner of today’s Maker Faires). In his talk, Papert presented a vision of a world in which computers would become an integral part of children’s lives. He described how children would program computers to control robots, compose music, design games, develop simulations, and perform many other creative activities.

    At the time, it was a bold, audacious dream, viewed by many as wildly unrealistic. Personal computers had just become...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke
  6. 1 The Comeback of Coding
    (pp. 1-18)

    When The Computer Museum closed its doors in 1999 and moved across the Charles River to the Boston Museum of Science, the exhibits for the Walk-Through Computer were packed up and stored but never reassembled. The computers from Project Headlight were sent to individual computer labs because the open learning space for collaborative coding was deemed to be unfeasible within the traditional structure of the school day. A gigantic computer that people walked through? Schoolchildren who programmed computer games? Both ideas seemed to belong to the realm of infeasibility. In the second half of the 1990s, laptop devices became increasingly...

  7. 2 Connected Learning
    (pp. 19-30)

    In his now iconic “The Gears of My Childhood,” the preface toMindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas,Seymour Papert talks about how he made personal and emotional connections to gears, how they helped him to understand mathematics, and how the computer might become “gears” for other children. He notes that his personal experiences cannot be replicated by giving every child a gear set and that learners have to construct their own gears. He argues that the protean quality of the computer could allow it to become a universal construction material for learners to design and build objects. Rather than...

  8. 3 From Code to Applications
    (pp. 31-50)

    Learning fractions typically elicits less excitement from fourth-grade students and their teachers. Yet creating real-world scenarios for fractions and explaining their meanings through function rather than just description makes for richer—and more personally relevant—learning, on and off the computer.² Project Headlight was unique because it incorporated mathematics into digital media design and also because fourth-grade students were creating such media themselves through the direct application of ratios and division. And rather than simply submitting their work to their teacher for a letter grade (which they always had done in the past), the fourth-graders were creating digital games and...

  9. 4 From Tools to Communities
    (pp. 51-72)

    In the collaborative and social climate of Web 2.0,² online creative collaborative production like that of Green Bear Productions is not unheard of, but at Green Bear Productions, it is young people, not adults, who organized this collaborative effort, and most had never met each other in person before. Other than two of the founding members, none of Green Bear’s members had ever personally met the others in the group. Members of the company were located in different places, even different time zones, and came together based on their common interest in collaborating on Scratch projects. And perhaps more surprising,...

  10. 5 From Scratch to Remix
    (pp. 73-88)

    Remix, the process of creating something new from something old,² follows the same pathway from the individual to the community that the previous chapter introduced. In the past, most programs had to be individually created “from scratch” to illustrate programming competencies, and code was understood to be a proprietary commodity that was built, refined, but certainly not shared. This approach set the tone for early computing coursework as children were introduced to the potential of programming in terms of input rather than output. Coursework focused on what children wrote as code rather than on what children actually produced with such...

  11. 6 From Screens to Tangibles
    (pp. 89-110)

    At one time, electronic construction kits were sold to a few dedicated hobbyists who were interested in building their own airplanes and ham radios. But Kickstarter campaigns have raised startup money for several computational construction kits. Like Makey Makey, those campaigns were built around the open-source Arduino board and software and allowed customization for particular activities (such as designing a robot) or provided a Scratch-style interface for programming different open hardware platforms. But MaKey MaKey was unique because it was able to make tangible computation readily accessible. Most of the MaKey MaKey projects that were featured in the promotional video...

  12. 7 Connected Teaching
    (pp. 111-124)

    This tale from Seymour Papert’s 1993 book,The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer,is an anecdote with many variations. Another version features Rip Van Winkle, who awakes from his twenty-year nap and finds the only semblance of modern life similar to that of his past to be the inside of classrooms; another version features a middle-school classroom serving as a time capsule for generations of students. And such tales are rooted in a certain truth: whether it is a blackboard, white board, or Smartboard on the wall, the rows of desks have been facing it...

  13. 8 Coding for All
    (pp. 125-136)

    A few years earlier, a video in which celebrities discuss their beginnings with computers and programming and urge viewers to learn coding would have been an unlikely success. Yet the excitement and earnestness of those who appear in the YouTube video may be the clearest indication to date that coding is making a comeback. The video showcases three-dimensional animations, music studios, robot drones flying in formation, computer screens in operating rooms, and workplaces with formidable amenities in the software industry. It plays on the sense of empowerment that learning to code can provide individuals. As Valve’s founder Gabe Newell’s declares,...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 137-154)
  15. References
    (pp. 155-172)
  16. Index
    (pp. 173-181)