Following on from a heated debate online yesterday I thought I would post about why promoting careers in computer science/programming/science to under-represented groups is necessary and worthwhile. As it happens, this also comes as Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastly-Upon-Tyne, has called for greater gender equality in the games industry (as detailed here).
Expect a graph and lots of footnotes…
I’m not sure how many dangerous ideas there will be (some?), but the Festival of Dangerous Ideas will be taking place around Scotland in June.
From the Festival web-site:
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible!
It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.
Update: Within about an hour of posting this I saw the news that Michael Gove has backed down on a major part of his proposed teaching reforms, the rapid introduction of the EBacc. Opposition from the deputy prime minister and Ofqual, and realisation that some of his reforms might break EU rules appear to have caused this. I guess I should add these to the Gove vs the World list below. ~ Daniel, 7/2/2013
Update: Gove’s U-turn is perhaps not all it seems. He is still pushing for quite aggressive and sweeping reforms. See “Gove vs The Exams Regulator” below. ~ Daniel, 8/2/2013
One of my Twitter contacts said this of Michael Gove: “He is spot on with his reforms. More teaching, less examining, listening to employers.”
To be honest, Gove really doesn’t appear to be much of a listener to me – to give him credit, the recent announcement of the inclusion of Computer Science in the EBacc shows that he is capable of listening. I suspect that lobbying by the high-tech industry – including personal pleas from Google’s chairman – made this possible. There is perhaps a small part of Gove that recognises that however much he worships the past, that the future is digital and perhaps Britain ought to be ready for it.
But this ‘listening’ to what people are saying to him doesn’t appear to come naturally to Gove. At least not when the people doing the saying aren’t leaders of the world’s biggest multinationals. And when people have the temerity to disagree with Gove, he frequently turns to insults and outrageous attacks to dismiss them. (And it seems that his advisors might be helping him out here, in ways that they perhaps shouldn’t)
There is a lot I would like to say in this post, but rather than try and ‘finish’ this post before I publish it, I’ll publish now and update over time…
Gove vs. The World – round one starts below…
Not going to comment terribly much on these stories, but I think these make an interesting collection… you are welcome to draw your own conclusions. After returning my focus to game based learning, another more political post for a change.
Having lost the public grount to the big US Universities on free online education, as Coursera, Udacity and EdX have gained massive numbers of users over the last 12 months, while OpenLearn has been largely ignored by the press over the same period – despite some re-branding and development on the web site. From a brief glance, one of the key changes to OpenLearn is the degree to which it now promotes the non-free OU courses, though that is only to be expected.
But now the OU is leading the first UK based open-learning consortium to try to regain ground lost to the American giants, with FutureLearn. The universities forming the initial grouping of the consortium are The Open University along with Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St. Andrews and Warwick. Overall, a slightly surprising collection of Universities, drawn from three different UK university groupings – perhaps highlighting the somewhat artificial nature of the groupings that do exist.
FutureLearn has been launched, but no details yet on what courses will be run, and nothing much to go on yet as to how it’ll differ in practice from any of the existing options. More choice is obviously going to be good for learners, but we are still waiting to see how universities will actually make these consortia financially sustainable in the long term.
Computer Games & Instruction, edited by Tobias & Fletcher is currently on sale over at Information Age. There is in there a chapter that I wrote with Jon Richter, on multi-user games for learning – but this is just one of the chapters in a great book with some fantastic contributions. I mentioned it before when it was released, and previously posted the list of contents.
My favourite chapter has to be Chris Dede’s, where he discusses developing a cohesive research program – advice you don’t often see in print. The editors’ key contribution is a large literature review. Perhaps broader than deeper, it nevertheless is certain to mention some works worthy of greater study. Raplh Chatham’s chapter on game-informed training in the US military has a great deal of detail and is also a very rewarding read. Lots of other great chapters besides, covering the question of fun in serious games, the role of gender, instructional support, and so on. Even if I wasn’t one of the chapter authors, I’d be recommending it…
How can Scotland afford to provide free higher education? Apparently, it’s cheaper than charging students fees in England and Wales – thanks to the fee levels and loan repayment scheme that was agreed. Don’t know how I missed this when it came out a couple of weeks ago, but belatedly:
Labour slam ‘chaos and confusion’ in Government’s higher education policy following report stating there was a ‘£1 billion a year black hole’ at its heart (Independent)
Not much else to say really…
Recently I discussed the incredibly strange math that has emerged as a result of devolution and increased student fees. There has apparently been a dip in applications in England as a result – a dip not matched in Scotland where there currently are no fees (for Scottish students at least.)
In the Hitch-Hiker books by Douglas Adams, one particularly improbably space ship is powered by bistromathics: the strange energy generated by repeated attempts to split a restaurant bill amongst a group of people sharing a table. No matter what, the numbers never seem to add up, but instead follow their own weird science.
Want to get an interview with one of the world’s top IT companies? Facebook or Microsoft.
Perhaps you think they only look at folk with top degrees from top universities. Wrong. In fact, you can get an interview without having a degree – you just have to be good (really good) at coding, and be able to demonstrate that.
Say hello to Interview Street: