Thursday, June 21, 2007

Computing is... take two

Give us this day...
Originally uploaded by Mr. Kris
I came across an report in a blog I've never heard of before that got me thinking. :-)

The blog post is You down with SPP? and in it the author, Scott Aaronson, is reporting on a talk titled “Computer Science: Past, Present, and Future” by Ed Lazowska. It sounds like it was interesting and chimes with some of the things I've been thinking about following our recent computing conference. (Note to self: I must blog some more about this conference!)

Some of the quotes Scott records are fascinating (for a given geek-style definition of the word "fascinating"!). For example:
2004 was the first year that human beings produced more transistors than grains of rice.
The future of theoretical computer science lies in transforming the other sciences (math, physics, economics, biology) via computational thinking.
Had Watson and Crick been computer scientists, they would’ve realized immediately that the real import of their discovery had nothing to do with the biochemical details, and everything to do with the fact that DNA is a digital code.
I'll need to go on the hunt to see if I can find more about this talk.

And while I'm vaguely on the subject... I've been meaning to blog for a while about something I heard David Warlick ask in a recent podcast. (Episode 82 I think.) He asked someone, "What are you teaching in your classroom today that you expect your students to remember in ten years time?" (Or words to that effect.) AB has already blogged about this and I'm glad I made some sort of sense as I talked about it to AB, Mark and John on the train. I was worried I had gone all wide-eyed and techie - ranting about loops, branching and recursion. :-) I thought it was a brilliant question for any teacher to ask him or herself. However, it is particularly important question for teachers involved in teaching ICT. Technology is changing and developing so quickly that if all we are teaching is button pushing skills (e.g. how to use Word to format a table) what we are teaching could be out of date in ten months, never mind ten years. :-)

So, why not leave a comment here as to how you would answer David's question? I'll have a think too and in a couple of days time I may have a go at describing what I hope my students will remember.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


John Connell said...


David Warlic's question is a good one - but I don't think it is the best question for a teacher to ask. His is the strategic question, but just as important is the tactical question:

"What are you teaching in your classroom today that you expect your students to remember in ten minutes time?"

Okay - let's be reasonable and ask: "...ten hours time" or "ten days time"?

Ab said...

I'm not so sure that 'remembering' is the priority here - after all there are now numerous applications online that can 'remember' for me?

For me, it has to come down to 'concepts', rather than 'skills'. If I understand the concept, I can then apply it in a whole host of environments, so this transcends skills (imho).

To use an ICT application example, the first graphics app I learned how to use was CorelDraw - to then use PhotoShop or FireWorks was not a huge leap, as I understood the concepts of image manipulation more than 'click this button'?

AB said...

oops - I meant to also say please do post about this David, as I'd really like to read your further thoughts on this issue? :-)

Kenneth... said...

Why not join FriendsReunited or and see if there are any former students you can ask if they can recall what you look like never mind what you taught them. :) LOL