What do we know about how novices learn webcraft and programming, and how can we apply that knowledge to teaching free-range learners?
Right now, people all over the world are learning how to write programs and create web sites, but for every one who is doing it in a classroom there are a dozen free-range learners. This group will explore how we, as mentors, can best help them. Topics will include:
What does research tell us about how people learn? Why are the demographics of programming so unbalanced? What best practices in instructional design are relevant to free-range learners? What skills do people need in order to bake their own web? How are grassroots groups trying to teach these things now? What's working and what isn't?
posted message: Interesting reality check from Mark Guzdial: http://computinged.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/online-cs-courses-what-does-it-mean-willing-to-put-in-the-effort/ What does it mean to say that students who are "willing to put in the effort" will succeed?
posted message: Just a reminder: if you haven't gone through the summary of the first ("Getting started") task and added comments of your own, please do so. We'll be discussing it live next week once I'm back from my travels.
posted message: Beyond the hole in the wall: http://blog.ted.com/2012/01/24/new-ted-book-asks-can-changing-how-we-teach-make-our-kids-smarter-more-creative/
And please feel free to post interesting/relevant links as well.
posted message: I've added links to people's web sites and blogs to the "External Links" section of the site. Please let me know if I've got any wrong (or if you're a participant, go ahead and edit the links directly).
posted message: And here is Frank Noschese's thoughts on what a 21st Century replacement for a textbook might look like: http://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/my-vision-for-a-physics-ibook/ He's thinking about physics; how many of these ideas/techniques could you use with your free-range learners?
posted message: Everybody seems to be talking about Apple's iBook announcement, so here's Mark Guzdial's take on what it means for teaching computer science: http://computinged.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/making-ibooks-vs-making-ibooks-for-learning-cs/. What are *your* thoughts? Would you use iBooks for teaching free-range learners?
posted message: I have just added my summary of everyone's first-task blog posts to the task description, along with a few comments and ideas for things people could tackle in task #3. If you're a course participant, please go ahead and edit it yourself to add more thoughts, comments, questions, and suggestions.
posted message: Kids learn better when they're consuming media along with their parents: http://mindshift.kqed.org/2012/01/with-media-parents-and-kids-learn-more-together/ Have any participants in this course experimented with parent-and-child workshops or classes? If so, what were your experiences?
posted message: It looks like Thursday, Feb 2, 11:00-13:00 Eastern time, is the most popular window for our first live meeting. Please put it in your calendars, and please either email me or post suggestions here about what tools you think would work well for a dozen or more people to discuss things online. (My apologies to people who can't make that slot---we'll try to ensure that everything's recorded, and/or find a second time that week to meet.)
Please also have a look at our second task, which asks you to describe the learners you're trying to help.
posted message: In response to an earlier question about whether I could post the readings (which are from an O'Reilly book) on Google Docs so that people could collaboratively comment on them, my editor at O'Reilly said: "I think Google Docs is fine (or whatever you find convenient) and the students don't have to be enrolled. I wouldn't even be a hard-ass and ask them not to share. They can follow their own sense of ethics, and if they show the chapters to other people that might actually be good for sales." So, would people find that useful? We're not going to tackle the chapters for another couple of weeks, but it looks like there's nothing to stop us from getting 'em up and starting to add notes to them. Thoughts?
posted message: Administrative notes:
1. If you've decided you don't have time to participate, but would like to follow, please let me know and I'll change your status. If you're currently a follower, but would like to participate, please let me know.
2. Please fill in the Doodle poll http://www.doodle.com/vykuqga42cfgxhm6 to let us know when you're available for live discussion next week.
3. Please post a link to your blog post comparing what you do (or what's been done to you :-) with the recommendations in the IES report linked from the first task.
We'll kick into higher (and more interactive) gear next week --- looking forward to chatting with all of you then.
posted message: Please let us know when you're available for our first webinar (week of Jan 30 - Feb 3): http://www.doodle.com/vykuqga42cfgxhm6 And please write the post requested in Task 1 (comparing your practices/experiences to the IES report's recommendations) and post the link here some time this week.
posted message: Just a reminder that the course officially starts next week. Several participants still haven't mailed me to get the readings --- please do so today or tomorrow. (And if any of the followers would like to bump up to being full participants, please mail me as well.)
Looking forward to working with you all!
posted message: Just a reminder that this course officially starts next Monday (Jan 16). If you haven't already sent me email to get the PDFs for the first challenge, please do so, and please also have a look at the IES report the first challenge mentions, write a blog post comparing its recommendations to what you do (or what's been done to you), and share that link.
posted message: If you teach classes or run workshops that are related to this course in any way, please add a link to the "External Links" section of this course site. If you don't, but you've taken a class or workshop  that you think is interesting, please add a link to it instead.
 We really need a word for "classes, workshops, and the like": "learning event" sounds clumsy. Any suggestions?
posted message: Steve Thomas has blogged his thoughts on the "research-based best practices" part of our first challenge: http://mrstevesscience.blogspot.com/2011/12/organizing-instruction-and-study-to.html Please post comments there (or here), and send links to *your* posts to Greg. Happy New Year!
posted message: We now have 30 participants, so I've switched to moderated sign-up --- more people are welcome, but since this is my first time organizing a course like this, I'd like to keep the numbers manageable.