Plan First — What’s Wrong With (many) Programming Courses

There’s a big difference between learning a foreign language (e.g., French) and learning a computer programming language.  Sure , any computer language is much simpler, trivial even, compared to, say, French.  No, that’s not it. You already know a language and you’ve used it for years.  If you want to talk to someone, you know what …

LRC03 video and Some Advice

Two new concepts. Looping and Decisions. Looping: Doing the same procedure over and over with different inputs and ultimately outputs. Decisions: Thinking?.  Hardly, it’s only branching or jumping by command. One command tells the machine (or our little robot) to stop taking commands in sequential order and jump to another place if the accumulator (A …

2nd Video & Overall Education Plan

The first video, LRC01A described the LRC (fictitious) computer, some of it’s language commands, the fetch-decode-execute cycle, a simple, add-two numbers program, and a homework problem to add 3 numbers. The LRC computer uses decimal numbers.  That’s one fiction.  Current computers use binary numbers.  I’ll put up a video explaining how number systems work, but that …

First Video (Little Robot Computer — LRC01A on YouTube)

My grandkids just sent me an email, “ABOUT TIME PAPA!”. This first one describes a fictitious computer.  Not real, but it has elements common to all modern computers. I start with the computer and it’s language rather than at a higher level programming language more accessible to humans.  Why? 3 reasons: No matter what language or style …

Opportunities galore, where are the folks??

Serendipity.  I was “surfing the net” looking for better ways to teach/learn programming.  ‘Learn to code, it’s harder than you think” (here) caught my eye.  Interesting. Summary: Special aptitude needed. Only a small percentage of folks can do it well.  It’s a high aptitude task. Most of existing programmers are self-taught.  A recent survey says …

“Growth Mindset” and “Participation Trophies”

I ran across an article about students last week (here) that discussed “mindset’ and in particular, “growth mindset”. Some points: Your belief about your own intelligence has a big impact on your learning behavior and whether or not you can be an effective self-directed-learner. If you believe that a subject is “too hard”, you won’t even …

“Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us”

Catchy headline (2013).  (article here)  The magic date is 2025 when “they” can build a computer with the processing power of the human brain. Scared?  Well, our brain is a learning machine and so far the attempt to get computers to learn has not gone so well. NYU professor Michio Kaku put it in perspective, here. …

Programs: For Me, For You, For All

I just read an interesting article, A Different Approach to Coding. One of the authors, Mitchel Resnick (MIT Media Lab), is one of the inventors of Scratch, a universally used graphical programming language.  Their thesis is that coding is a new form of literacy. BTW, Last December’s, Hour of Code, used Scratch and some other graphical approaches to …

“Of course he can walk. Thank God he doesn’t have to!”

That was the caption on a satirical cover of New York Magazine (1970) showing a teenager in a wheelchair being pushed by a bejeweled woman with a very large mansion in the background. Rephrase: “Why learn to write if I don’t plan on being a professional writer?” — more relevant, here, “Why learn about computers, programming, robotics, coding, etc. …

Robotics: What’s Happening (better: happened)

Check out Amazon’s Robots , 19 most important in 2015 and Merry Christmas. There are videos at the bottom of the first two links. Amazing, but I think that we’re now just at the “Model T” stage.  The advances that we’ll see will be stunning — and will impact our lives in unimaginable ways. Remember the maze solving crow?  Could a …