Monday, June 26, 2017

ISTE 2017- A First Look

If I am seeing a theme at ISTE 2017 so far it is making. Session after session demonstrates learning by making things. No where is this more true than with computer science. Micro:bit and AdaFruit Circuit Playground Express are being seen in booths at poster sessions and discussed in workshops. Those two seem to be the tip of the ice burg though. This morning I saw a programmable (in Scratch) device that can be inserted in a flying disk.

WP_20170624_17_00_40_ProThe image on the left here shows a “guitar” made from duct tape, cardboard, and a Micro:Bit. The accelerometer in the Micro:Bit means that when the guitar is shaken it plays sounds.

AWP_20170624_16_58_12_Prond then there are these “magic wands” that respond to both movement and sounds. There seems to be a virtually unlimited set of ideas for making smart devices that include the various miniature devices that are becoming available. Microsoft MakeCode is usable to program many of these devices.

One of the cool things about MakeCode is that you can switch between a block like language and JavaScript. That means students don’t grow out of it very quickly – if at all.

What does this mean for computer science? Several things I think. One is that it means we can bring programming to younger and younger students. Most of these devices can be programmed with drag and drop block languages using words that young students can understand. Add to that color and creativity and you have a recipe for keeping lots of students engaged.

But it means something for older students as well. A key thing for getting students engaged is tying their learning into things they are interested id doing. For some that is robots. People who teach in all female environments tell me that women and girls are interested in robots. They just see different robots than boys usually do.

And fashion? NCWIT has e-Textiles-in-a-Box that looks very exiting. Just like robots are not just for boys, e-textiles are not just for girls either. I’ve seen a number of posters involving wearable items that mix electronics and or computer devices with clothing loosely defined.

ISTE is really just getting started today. I expect to see a lot more and will share some of the best of it.


Mrs_D said...

I wanted to try the wearables. Thanks for the link.

Doug said...

Thanks for sharing your insights, Alfred. I look forward to seeing more of them.

With all those things, there needs to be questions posed to their fan-people.

1) Explain how this is good for kids.
2) Does it stand alone of is the use helpful in subjects?
3) What comes next?
4) How does this deliver on the promise of more students taking computer science?
5) How do you engage students in the computer science courses where they don't code in a drag and drop world?

Mike Zamansky said...

Thanks for the update.

I had to choose between ISTE and the CSTA conference so while not at this one looking forward to seeing you in Maryland.

Alfred Thompson said...

I hope you'll feel like you chose well Mike. I'm getting a lot out of ISTE but more from the exhibit hall than the sessions with a couple of exceptions. CSTA is really the conference for my people.

Mike Zamansky said...

It was a combination of money - my funding will fully cover CSTA, not quite all of ISTE which is further away, better timing, and more my core.