|By Shelly Palmer||
|December 21, 2012 12:40 AM EST||
I hope we can all agree that throwing technology at children will not make them smarter.
Let’s start there, because we are throwing a lot of technology at kids these days. Computers have made their way into many classrooms. Shockingly (and sadly), not all classrooms and educators, schools and parents stay up to date.
Tablets have sped up the use of technology in the classroom. The cost of these computing devices keeps dropping, lowering the barrier between the growing minds of kids and the necessity for technological literacy. But technology alone won’t make our kids smarter. This month, some interesting research reminds us: It’s the apps, stupid.
All About the Apps
Produced as part of a collaboration between the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the New America Foundation and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, “Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators” (by Lisa Guernsey, Michael H. Levine, Cynthia Chiong & Maggie Stevens) reviews education apps for kids. The report highlights that over 80 percent of top-selling paid apps in the Education Category target children; of those, 72 percent target preschool-aged children. But what’s the quality of all those apps? In short: not so good.
Out of the 137 recently published “educational literacy” apps, websites and e-books that the group reviewed, most only covered basic skills and basic forms of learning (like letters, sounds and word recognition). Less than 20 percent focused on high lever skills, like comprehension and the ability to understand and tell stories.
This research reminds us that technology alone in the hands of children is not enough. It also tells us that educational apps and software alone also is not enough. Buying our kids a bunch of apps will not make them smarter – a much broader parent, educator and peer learning framework is needed.
I don’t think this will surprise most people. In our better hours, we know that education is complicated and each child’s learning needs to be rigorously personalized. No two kids learn the exact same way, yet we still search for the big road signs to make sure that our kids are on the right road to the future.
Preparing for Tomorrow, Today
As a futurist, I often get asked by caring parents and earnest educators, “What can I tell my kids to do to get them prepared for the future?”
This question troubles me.
Typically, when people think about our kids and the future, they want to know what these young people can do today to prepare for tomorrow’s uncertainty. They talk about the future as if it’s this thing that is coming at our kids, and if our kids aren’t ready, the future will gobble them up like some evil witch in a fairy tale.
It’s this fear that troubles me. When it comes to our kids, many people are frightened of the future. This fear breeds bad decisions.
We throw poorly designed apps at our kids in hopes that the evil witch of the future will not eat them. Instead of taking the time to make measured decisions about our kid’s education, we freak out.
We freak out because we love our kids and we want our kids to have a safe and prosperous future. This is a good thing. More people should freak out. But where should we put all that energy? Can we focus someplace more constructive?
We’re Doing it All Wrong
Douglas Rushkoff has an idea for what we could do with all that energy. Doug is a media theorist and technology writer. In the early 1990s, he wrote one of the first thoughtful books about the Internet: Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Cybersapce. In his most recent book, Program or Be Programed (2011), Doug wrote:
“The underlying capability of the computer era is actually programming—which almost none of us knows how to do. We simply use programs that have been made for us, and enter our text in the appropriate box on the screen. We teach kids how to use software to write, but not how to write software.”
I take Doug’s advice one step further. When I get the question, “What can I tell my kids to do to get them prepared for the future?” I immediately answer, “Learn to code!”
Typically, the person who asked the question looks puzzled, having expected a more complex answer. I repeat myself: “Learn to code!”
Everyone should learn how to code, not just kids.
It’s a simple solution to the math of the coming future. We know that by 2015, there will be around 15 billion computer and devices that can connect to the Internet. That’s more devices than there are people on the planet. All of those devices run on code, software and applications.
Many people talk about learning Chinese, German or Hindi a valuable skill for the coming decades. While I agree, I would also say that learning to code might be more important. There will be more computers than people in China, Germany and Japan put together.
However, understanding code goes far beyond just being able to talk to computers and understand how those computers talk to each other. When you really dig in and start to understand this code, you learn something very important about the future.
From Baking Cake to Coding Apps
To understand code is really about understanding an algorithm. This might sound super geeky, but an algorithm is pretty simple. It’s a series of steps used to process data and deliver an end result.
Some of the first algorithms were cooking and baking recipes. By following each step, you get the same end result. Some dry ingredients, some wet ingredients… mix them up, pop it all in the oven, wait a bit and boom! You get cake. The algorithm could look like this. I drew it out in my notebook:
When you really get to know how algorithms work you realize two things:
(1) Algorithms are beautiful. They are “recipes” that let us do amazing things. Look at Google’s Page Rank algorithm (pictured below). This is the algorithm that essentially built Google. This collection of steps allows you to do a search for “simple cake recipe” and get back about 41,300,000 results in 0.26 seconds.
When you think about all the amazing things this little recipe allows us to do every day, you become humbled by Page Rank. It is a beautiful creation by people.
(2) Code, algorithms and computers are stupid. Think about the computer or smartphone you use every day. If you don’t interact with it exactly how you are supposed to, it doesn’t work. In this way, computers are kind of idiotic. If anything out of the ordinary happens, BAM! It crashes, freezes or just doesn’t work.
Computers, code and algorithms need us to program them. We need to give them step-by-step functions. They can’t do anything else from what they are programed to do. Algorithms don’t have genius ideas… they are built that way.
However, humans have genius ideas! Understanding the limitations of code and algorithms shows you how valuable we all are as humans. Embracing this allows us to better prepare for a world where there are more computers than humans.
(Stay tuned for another look at the future of education, coming early next week.)
DISCLAIMER: I am Intel’s futurist. I am currently on sabbatical from Intel. My thoughts, observations and analyses are mine personally and I am not speaking on behalf of Intel.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 16, 2017 01:45 PM EST Reads: 3,578
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Jan. 16, 2017 12:30 PM EST Reads: 5,436
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 16, 2017 12:30 PM EST Reads: 4,990
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
Jan. 16, 2017 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,355
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 5,662
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 1,847
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Jan. 16, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 4,121
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Jan. 16, 2017 11:27 AM EST Reads: 231
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Jan. 16, 2017 08:30 AM EST Reads: 3,014
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
Jan. 16, 2017 06:30 AM EST Reads: 5,838
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 16, 2017 06:30 AM EST Reads: 4,486
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
Jan. 16, 2017 05:30 AM EST Reads: 1,085
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
Jan. 16, 2017 04:30 AM EST Reads: 4,499
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:30 AM EST Reads: 2,839
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:30 AM EST Reads: 5,230
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
Jan. 16, 2017 03:15 AM EST Reads: 5,740
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Jan. 16, 2017 02:30 AM EST Reads: 3,927
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Jan. 16, 2017 01:45 AM EST Reads: 2,670
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
Jan. 16, 2017 01:15 AM EST Reads: 4,157
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
Jan. 16, 2017 12:00 AM EST Reads: 4,789