Coding is for Everybody—Reflecting

June 24, 2013
4:00 pm - 5:10pm PST
By Educator Innovator

When coding, it’s important not only to dive in and create, but also to step back and reflect. What can we share about our experiences coding — and learning — with Scratch?

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (03:34) Although we know the importance of reflection, I think sometimes it gets left aside or never gets fully developed…sometimes there’s so much emphasis on getting actively engaged that people forget…it’s also important to step back and to reflect on the experiences.
  • (05:25) One thing that attracts me about coding is that, unlike some other activities, when you code there is actually some external representation, some trace of what your thinking was about. A lot of times, it’s easier to do reflecting when there’s something external.
  • (10:16) Once I got to Harvard, I knew that I wanted to get back into learning coding. And I wanted to avoid the pitfalls that I had encountered in my previous coding experiences. I wanted to make it authentic, and I wanted to make it meaningful to something that I was working on rather than disconnected activities in a workbook.
  • (13:37) That’s so important to remember: different people are going to learn in different ways. And I do think that’s been one of the problems with coding when it’s been taught in school–it’s often taught as one-size-fits-all…and I do think that’s a big part of what’s turned off a lot of people.
  • (16:29) I feel like we encounter this less with the kids that we interact with, but sometimes when we’re helping adults get started–with Scratch, in particular–is this idea of confidence…How did you deal with the psychological dimension of the challenges of programming?
  • (19:58) A lot of times when people think about learning to code, you think about…a bunch of specific computer concepts. But I really agree with what Lindsey was saying: I think one of the biggest things that you learn is just having a new perspective…you start to see the world differently, and maybe start to see yourself differently, about the role that you can play within it.
  • (22:37) If you were going to give advice now to some other people who are thinking of exploring learning to code, what type of advice would you give to others?
  • (24:22) Patience, iteration, and networking. Patience to keep trying when things don’t work. Iteration to keep working on things, and not just getting dedicated to the first thing that you make–be willing to make it better. And networking…use the people around you, use the resources that you have.
  • (26:11) How has your experience with programming and engaging in these kinds of networking & connecting activities changed…the way you conceptualize openness and intellectual property?
  • (31:24) Stack Overflow became my friend when I was learning how to write an app…pretty much every question I had was out there…it’s amazing the community that you will find on the internet. Go to Google, ask a silly question, and you will find 12 websites that have some form of answer about programming.
  • (37:11) Could you talk a bit about, as you were working through it, the role of reflection in your learning process? [Also,] now that you’ve graduated and had a bit of distance from the experience, the role of reflection on action?
  • (41:31) Karen, I know in workshops you do with educators, that’s something you think about a lot: both how to help them with reflecting, but also how they can help their students with reflecting. Maybe you can talk about some of the strategies that you’ve used…for supporting that reflection process?
  • (43:58) I was just at a workshop today in which they had looked at the impact of actually being able to play around with materials before reading some sort of text…and it was like a 30% difference in gains in having that early exploration. So, that shared artifact, that thing that we’re producing is really important for our learning process.
  • (48:48) [Sharing your work] across a community gives you a natural context for reflection, as you’re starting to talk about your process and people are asking questions that, maybe, you haven’t asked yourself.
  • (50:26) “Reflection” is developing an understanding of where you currently are and where you would like to be, and the difference between those two states.
  • (53:02) I encourage all of the educators (and parents) listening to really think about that there is no ‘prerequisite’ before you need to get started [with learning to code]. Take that leap of faith. Give it a shot. Try it out. Support your learners as they’re working on this.

From this Series:

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During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtag #connectedlearning.

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Mitch Resnick is the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. He explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences. Mitch also helped develop Scratch, an online community where children program and share interactive stories, games, and animations.
  • Karen Brennan is an Assistant Professor at Harvard University in the Graduate School of Education, and completed her PhD at the MIT Media Lab in the Lifelong Kindergarten group. Karen studies how participation in the Scratch online community and how professional development for educators can support young people as creators of computational media.
  • Kylie Peppler is an Assistant Professor in the Learning Sciences Program at Indiana University, Bloomington and leader of the “Make To Learn” initiative at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Her collaborative investigations into e-textiles (with Yasmin Kafai and Leah Buechley) have led to new educational approaches to electronic textile design that push back on traditional notions of arts education.
  • Lindsey Dunn – Education Pioneer fellow working in curriculum production at STEMscopes
  • Heather French – Instructional Technology Specialist for Cambridge Public School District
  • Laura Johnson – Facilitator for the Creative Computing Online Workshop

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