Tag Archives: coding

Memo #1 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 23, 2015
According to Dr. Patience Stephens, Director/Special Advisor on Education for UN-Women, it is no longer appropriate or tolerable to do a minimalist job of providing girls and women with the tools they need to improve their lives – most notably with a second-class education. What a true statement – so obvious, but still not reality, especially not in many places around the globe.  With that inspiration and a call to more fully examine how mobile devices in particular can enable and empower change for girls and women, this year’s Mobile Learning Week 2015 was off to a great start.  Today was the workshop day of the weeklong event and I was honored to be chosen from a field of 70 proposals to lead one of the 12 workshops today.  Additionally, our good friend, Dr. Kari Stubbs, Vice President of Innovation and Learning at BrainPOP asked me to participate in her workshop to provide Speak Up research support.  It was a fun and exciting day examining the intersections of STEM, digital learning, games, coding, mobile devices – and girls!  I am excited to share with you 2 big takeaways based upon the workshops today that I hope may lead to deeper discussions on these important issues in your schools, districts, organizations and communities. If they do, I would love to hear back from you!
Take-away #1:  The morning workshop was led by the BrainPOP team and focused on girls’ interest in playing learning games, creating their own games, and learning how to code using mobile devices. Speak Up data provided the contextual background for many of the learning experiences within this workshop.  What I especially liked was the high level of audience participation and interactivity within the workshop.  Participants had multiple opportunities to play different kinds of games and even try their hand at coding.  While playing learning games is always fun, the play/learn experiences was grounded in examining the content through the lens of gender-sensitivity.  While it may seem easy to identify Game X as a “boy-oriented” game and Game Y as “girl-focused,” the audience quickly realized that those superficial stereotypes were inconclusive.  Using a guide developed by Project Tomorrow for this workshop, the participants had a chance to do a deeper dive as game and content evaluators and in the process, learned a lot of about their own biases and potential blindness to gender issues in digital content, games and other instructional materials.  The guide is available with other workshop materials at http://www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.   We already know that the inclusion of mobile devices increases student engagement in learning. But what if we could prove that using mobile devices helps create more gender-responsive, transformative learning environments for all students?    We have much more work to do in this arena but I was excited to see the level of interest in this topic amongst the Mobile Learning Week attendees.
Take-away #2:  In the afternoon workshop, the focus was on how to design, implement and evaluate a gender-sensitive mobile learning project.  I led this workshop with support this time from Dr. Stubbs. Based upon Project Tomorrow research in this area, we shared a new way of thinking about the evolution of a mobile planning project from a gender-sensitivity perspective, starting from the identification of your project purpose through the synthesis of research data to share with stakeholders.  But first we had to review what we meant by gender-sensitivity.  A simplified version is basically becoming more aware of gender norms, roles and relationships and how those inherent or un-intended biases or opinions influences students’ learning. The real goal here is to develop new mobile learning projects that recognize gender issues and then, strategically and deliberately create ways to minimize the impact of any gender-blind or unequal priorities or values. As you might imagine these workshop topics instigated new questions and ideas about understanding and identifying gender-sensitivity.  Several points that the audience made on this topic intrigued me; I need to do more thinking on several of the points raised. However, several questions came up as to whether the goal of gender-sensitivity was to right the wrongs of the past in terms of unequal learning opportunities for girls, or to aim for how gender issues can be mitigated to the point of truly equal education for all genders. Both approaches are important to consider especially because in some communities, there is an emerging “boy crisis” where male students are feeling like second class citizens in their schools and that perception is affecting their school performance.  Sound familiar?  So, how do we really design, implement and evaluate new mobile learning projects that enable girls to reach for the stars in educational opportunities while not dashing the dreams and aspirations of their brothers?   I have a few suggestions.  Check out the PowerPoint from today’s workshop.  Spoiler alert – the powerpoint includes brand new data findings from Speak Up 2014. Review, enjoy and pass it on: http://www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.
Tuesday is the first day of the two day Mobile Learning Symposium.  The Symposium includes inspiring keynotes and plenary sessions – and a myriad of small, TedTalk like sessions on all kinds of topics related to girls, women and mobile learning.  It is going to be a full day.  Be part of the experience by following me on Twitter (@JulieEvans_PT).  I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow my new learnings from this event in our Memo #2 from Mobile Learning Week 2015!

Speak Up 2014 Snapshot for Students

This is a special blog posting by Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, to share some selected , preliminary data findings from Speak Up 2014 (data collected from October 6 – November 24 from 201,297 middle and high school students nationwide).   The final data results will be published in a series of national reports in spring 2015. 
Supporting the Hour of Code:  Students’ Interest in Learning Computer Programming
From Minecraft fairs at schools to girl coding parties after school, schools and communities are encouraging today’s students to embrace coding or computer programming as a new essential literacy.  The momentum behind the efforts of our colleague, Code.org, to develop greater student (and parent/teacher) interest in coding has been exciting to watch develop.  In honor of this week’s Hour of Code events, we are pleased to share with the nation a preliminary set of Speak Up data on student interest in coding to provide additional context for the week’s activities. 
While less than 10 percent of students in grades 6-12 are currently involved in programs or classes that are teaching computer programming, students have a high interest in learning more about this new literacy.  Amongst high school students, 45 percent say they are interested in learning how to code; 17 percent are very interested.  For students in grades 6-8, over half of those students (53 percent) expressed an interest in learning programming with one-quarter of those students identifying as very interested.  Given that high demand, schools may be concerned about how to address students’ interests with current teachers or electives.  Interestingly, 27 percent of high school students and 38 percent of middle school students would like to take an online computer programming class.
While the level of middle and high school student interest in coding is impressive, especially in light of the Hour of Code momentum, the real growth market appears to be upper elementary students.  When we asked students in grades 3-5 if they are interested in learning more about coding and programming, 66 percent said yes!  So, while many traditionally think about programming as a high school elective class or afterschool club, we may want to think about new ways to engage our elementary students in coding activities – especially since their interest is so high right now.  As we know from our research on other STEM activities, engaging and supporting student interest in the elementary grades is critical for sustaining that interest in the later grades.    
Want to learn more about the coding interests of your students as well as the perceptions of teachers and parents on this hot topic?  Every school and district that participates in Speak Up and promotes the surveys to their K-12 students, teachers and parents, receives a free report with both local and national data findings.  Speak Up 2014 surveys are open for input until December 19.  Local reports will be available February 5.  Here is your link to the surveys:  http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2014/

Build your own yeti with code!

Happy Halloween! Made With Code by Google has a variety of fun games that can help students get into coding. In honor of today’s spooky holiday, check out their Build Your Own Yeti Game, where you can choose the yeti’s color and movements through the Blockly programming language. Click on the yeti below to get started:

Additionally, our Speak Up survey offers questions about coding and programming this year. A question that we ask high school students is:
If your school offered a class or after school activity to learn how to program or code, how interested would you be in taking that class or participating in that activity?
Don’t forget to participate in Speak Up 2014!  Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys – including data regarding online classes – will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014, and be sure to take the survey before it closes on December 19th, 2014!

Around the Web Wednesday: Coding Edition

Happy Around the Web Wednesday: Coding Edition! This week’s articles focus on coding in honor of the Hour of Code (learn more about it here). Browse all the links below for the latest news and topics trending in education and coding. Be sure to let us know which article intrigued you the most!

Be sure to check back each week for our Around the Web Wednesday series. Have a great day!

Model by Day, Coder by Night

When we think of coding we tend to associate the word with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. After all, the software industry is generally dominated by men and the most well-known social entrepreneurs are male.

Breaking down stereotypes about coding and the software industry, Lyndsey Scott is just the opposite of that. Dubbed by her family as a mix between Giselle Bundchen and Bill Gates, she entered Amherst as a theater major and picked up Computer Science as a second major. Although her interest in software began at a young age when she programmed her TI-89 calculator with games of her own creation, she only began modelling after college and has now modeled for Victoria’s Secret, Gucci, and Prada. Despite her success on the runway, Lyndsey still finds time to code and has developed several apps for Apple, including an iPad app that serves as a digital portfolio for models and an app called Educate!, which helps students in Uganda find sponsors.

Given her two very different careers, Lyndsey is aware of the struggles that come with being a female coder. “[The fashion industry] wouldn’t talk about my education,” she said. Because of her experience in both the software programming industry and fashion industry, Lyndsey is an advocate for girls getting into coding and computers, and has spoken about Code.org’s Hour of Code, a campaign designed to recruit students to try computer science for at least one hour; she pointed out that of the 20 million students who were given the opportunity to try programming, most participants were female. Lyndsey believes that more girls will become interested in programming and technology as long as they are given the opportunity to do so.

To read the full article for “What It’s Like To Be A Victoria’s Secret Model Who Codes In Her Free Time” by Business Insider, click here. Also check out http://code.org/ to learn more about the organization and the Hour of Code. What do you think about the future of female coders? Did your child(ren)/students participate in the Hour of Code? Let us know in the comments section!