The other day I was demonstrating some things to my programming students. We’re at the very beginning of a new semester and students are learning the very basics. We were doing a simple exercise to help students understand how assignments work with object properties. The program moves the contents of one picturebox into another when a button was clicked. I took my sample program, added an array and a timer and had it automatically rotate images across the screen.
It looks sort of nice and reminded me of the old idle loop light displays we had “back in the day.” It was something I did just for the fun of it. One might say “because I could.” And then a voice in the back of the room asked in wonder “Are we going to learn how to do that?” And then it hit me that I had done something a bit more interesting than I’d intended. I’d attracted some curiosity with it too!
Students are always willing to work harder to learn something they want to learn. A number of teachers have talked to me about just in time learning where students are taught a concept because they need it then. I tend to push out a concept and then asking them to use it in a project. I think I need to set things up so they pull the concept from me rather than me pushing it out. Doing the right demo may do that. That is something I want to try.
At this point I’m planning on demonstrating working programs first and then talking about the concepts needed to create them. What I want to do is create projects the students want to do so they want to pay attention. Few seem to be interested in learning for the sake of learning. Or even for potential future use. If they see an actual use that seems interesting I think it will be easier.
Ultimately I want to help students motivate themselves to learn rather than me trying to force feed them information.