50 years Logo Memo No. 3

Hinweis: Eine deutsche Fassung dieses Berichts findet sich auf meinem konzeptblog unter 50 Jahre Logo Memo No. 3

After my retirement, I only sporadically pursued my fields of work in instructional technology and media didactics in publications, project descriptions or statements. My new interests took priority (Digital Art, Opticals). But the recently published book Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50 I ordered and read right away. It interested me because „This book gathers dozens of the world’s most creative teachers, scholars, administrators, activists, and developers to reflect upon the impact of Twenty Things and use the wisdom of Solomon and Papert to propel the future of education.“

The editor Gary Stager takes the publication of the report by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon Twenty Things to Do with a Computer (Logo Memo No. 3) in June 1971 – 50 years ago – as an opportunity to reflect on the approaches formulated in it, to evaluate their implementation and to draw conclusions for the future of learning (at least according to Stager in the introduction).

When the book talks about Papert’s constructionist approach and the programming language Logo (in whose development Cynthia Solomon played a major role), it is necessary in the meantime to briefly reconstruct the context, because for many contemporary readers the names and concepts may not be familiar. The constructionist approach combines reform pedagogical ideas on self-determined learning and participation with learning theory considerations. It is based on the constructivism of Jean Piaget (Papert worked with Piaget for several years), but there is a much stronger emphasis on creative action in the sense of constructing things. The production of things (artefacts) supports the independent examination of problems and their understanding. Learning is embedded in the situational context and promotes discussion and evaluation in the group. To understand this approach, Papert’s book Mindstorms is actually indispensable.

I became acquainted with Papert’s approach and the programming language Logo shortly after starting my career in the mid-1970s (inspired, among other things, by a presentation in the edited volume Computer im Unterricht with reference to the LOGO Memos des MIT AI Lab, which I obtained at the time after a postal request). Since 1981, when I was able to work with Logo on the Apple ][ myself, I have practised this programming language and Papert’s approach again and again as a user, teacher and teacher trainer – and for my current work on Coded Art, I use the Logo derivative Snap!. I have learned a lot from the German logo group around Herbert Löthe and Ulrich Hoppe (Ludwigsburg), and Jochen Ziegenbalg (Reutlingen/Karlsruhe). To be honest, their and my efforts have not been successful in establishing Logo and the Papert approach permanently. Even the modern Logo variants Scratch and Snap! tend to lead a shadowy existence in the school context today. That’s why I was expecting the book Twenty Things … to provide impulses on how Papert’s approach can perhaps be used more effectively in today’s changed school and social environment. Unfortunately, there is not much to be found.

In Logo Memo No. 3 Twenty Things to do with a Computer, Papert and Solomon outline twenty projects in order to, in this sense, „introduce everyone of whatever age and whatever level of academic performance, to programming, to more general knowledge of computation and indeed to mathematics, to physics and to all formal subjects (..).“ For Gary Stager this memo is „a revolutionary document that set the course of education for the next fifty years and beyond. (…) its impact is all around us. In 1971 Solomon and Papert predicted 1:1 personal computing, the maker movement, children programming computers, robotic construction kits, computer science for all, and integrating computing across the curriculum.“ (p.1)

This rather exuberant introduction also characterises many of the contributions. Most of them come from companions of Papert and Solomon who report on their activities at the time and the experiences they made. They often read like reports from the good old days and usually lack a critical evaluation of the experiences and lessons for today and the future. The current state of affairs is that central aspects of constructionism can be found in projects of the Maker Culture or initiatives such as Code.org. However, most of these projects were developed without knowledge of it and at least without reference to it. Rather, they are an expression of the actual availability of computers, the internet, robots and other controllable devices for everyone. However, such projects still find their place outside of school curricula.

The many years of dogged efforts to take account of the importance of digitisation in schools are only slowly leading to the inclusion of computer science concepts in school curricula, whether as a subject of computer science (at least in Germany) or integrated into the subjects (for example, my contribution Kunst Codieren Lernen at forum.bildungbw). The book makes clear that fundamental considerations have been available for 50 years. However, it offers only limited help for work in today’s environment.

My SnapCon2021 …

HinweisEine deutsche Fassung dieses Berichts findet sich auf meinem konzeptblog unter Meine SnapCon21 …
My observations and notes to the Snap! Conference 2021 while the impressions are still fresh..
Yesterday the 3rd international meeting of the Snap! community came to an end, which now took place online for the 2nd time. With my mobility restrictions, this was very convenient for me at the moment. The small but very creative and active community met to exchange experiences and present new projects and developments. The mixture of keynotes, workshops (yes, that also works online), short contributions (5 minutes) and lectures (20 minutes) was again very instructive and profitable for me. Even social events (with lively participation) took place. The organisation was exemplary, there was a real conference atmosphere (Mags Amond summarised this very well in a Twitter-thread).

Two of the projects presented were dedicated to my main topic of art and coding. The PH Heidelberg offers the course Kunst durch Coding mit Snap! – Teil I & II (Art through Coding with Snap!). It is very low-threshold, with videos, exercises and tests. It is currently only available in German. Glen Bull presented the course Creating Art, Animations, and Music through Coding (the book accompanying the course is available for dwnload). It’s interesting that the chapters are each based on the work of well-known artists and their recoding with Snap! I will have to take these suggestions into account for my current attempt at a teaching unit on coding art.

Snap! is aimed at a diverse audience: learners and teachers, pupils and students, developers and users. For the different requirements, it is quite helpful that there are now many libraries for Snap! that provide the necessary functionalities for specific areas. Two new ones were introduced, SciSnap! by Eckart Modrow and Crayons & Color by Brian Harvey. However, the palettes of Snap!
palettes can become quite confusing (the screenshot shows about 2/3 of this extension). I hope that the new functions from v. 7 onwards for personalisation (showing/hiding blocks/palettes) will offer enough flexibility to cope with this diversity. Netblox, on the other hand, gets by with very few powerful extensions, with which a whole range of very different distributed data processing applications can then be integrated into Snap!

A special focus with many contributions was the direct integration of microcontrollers in Snap!. If you are interested in the variety, you should definitely have a look at the corresponding recordings! As soon as all this will be available as libraries in V. 7, I will hopefully be able to implement some ideas for interactive installations that have been lying around for a while.

Now I just have to find the time to process the many suggestions, test out the new functions and tools and then optimise my projects and start new ones.

From Media Computation to Data Science

Hinweis: Eine deutsche Fassung dieses Berichts findet sich auf meinem konzeptblog.Over the years I have participated in several MOOCs and webinars. Most of the time, I did not take advantage of all the offers within the events. As I was usually only interested in selected content, I did not obtain a certificate at any of the courses. This time it was different. At the course From Media Computation to Data Science I have now acquired a certificate for the first time, here an openSAP certificate On the one hand, I finished the course completely, because programming with Snap! has accompanied me for several years in my work on the recoding & remixing of Digital Art. On the other hand I always had the feeling that I was only scratching the surface of the „true“ possibilities of Snap! So the course offered the chance to expand this basic knowledge with advanced concepts. Weiterlesen

My SnapCon2020 …

Hinweis: Eine deutsche Fassung dieses Berichts findet sich auf meinem konzeptblog.

My observations and notes to the Snap! Conference 30.07.-02.08.2020 in Berkeley while the impressions are still fresh..
Yesterday the 2nd international meeting of the Snap! community ended. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting was held completely online. This was very convenient for me, because otherwise I would not have been able to participate anyway for several reasons. Since I have already mentioned my dayly highlights on Twitter (day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4),, I would like to limit myself to two other aspects here. Weiterlesen

Wieviel Informatik braucht der Mensch?

Die Corona-Krise hat in Schulen und Hochschulen die Ergänzung, vielfach sogar den zeitweisen Ersatz des „Normalunterrichts“ durch digitale Angebote erzwungen. Für diejenigen Lehrkräfte, für die das ein Sprung ins kalte Wasser bedeutete, gab es zum Glück schnell viele praktische Hilfen. Unter dem Strich haben die oft als digital unterbelichtet gescholtenen LehrerInnen die Anforderungen besser gemeistert als wohl viele befürchtet hatten. Zu Recht werden aber nun (wieder) grundsätzliche Fragen gestellt und diskutiert: Was ist eigentlich digitale Medienkompetenz für Lernende und natürlich auch für Lehrende und wann kann und soll sie von wem vermittelt werden? Braucht es ein Pflichtfach Informatik und ab welcher Schulstufe? Brauchen wir Programmieren für Alle und wer kann das unterrichten? Weiterlesen