Thursday, September 30, 2021

Define Learn To Code

I saw an interesting question today on Twitter:

My first response is that there is no definitive answer to that question. I thought about it for a while. One can learn to program by hooking a Raspberry Pi to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and firing up Thonny and learn Python. One can use any number of online IDEs and a Chrome book. The last classes I taught had a mix of students running Eclipse and Processing on Mac and PC laptops with no appreciable difference. In short, does the computer even matter?

Maybe there is a question that has to be asked and answered before discussing the right or best laptop to use. That question is “what does it mean to “learn how to code?” I suspect we could have quite a long discussion on that question alone.

To me it boils down to:

  • What problem are you trying to solve – how do you define “learning to code”
  • What software helps you best learn to code by your definition
  • What hardware runs the software you want to run

Picking the hardware should almost always be the last thing one picks. Now I have to go think about what it means to “learn how to code.”


Doug said...

My first kneejerk reaction was to agree with you and maybe even extend it one further by asking if you actually even need a computer.

But then I thought that maybe it was a deeper question and that made me rethink things, particularly in a school setting.

Suppose the question was based upon a scenario where she was outfitting a lab in a school to cover a range of classes. In Ontario, the Computer Studies curriculum defines classes that range from 10-12. On top of that, there are other courses that might want to book in to use the computer.

In your world, you have all the AP offerings for students as well. So, it could be that the question goes much further than one would think.

Garth said...

Kids and parents ask me this all the time. I say "The cheapest one you can get away with." The only time I have seen a computer of any type not work well (ignore Chromebooks, they do not do most things in school) is with Unity, Unreal Engine or VR/AR apps.