Earlier this week, I was scrolling twitter in the wee hours of the morning when all of a sudden, I stumbled upon a video of a teacher’s lesson involving coding the civil war.
The video was super upbeat and full of images that children drew representing various parts of the war. The main focus though was the trail of “coded robots” traveling a “timeline-like” path along the war with kids cheering as the bots reached their end.
I watched the video maybe 30 times, pausing…zooming…replaying…cringing…
…because aside from the mortifying thought of robots being coded to travel what I presume to be the underground railroad at some point, the content to which kids were experiencing was excruciatingly watered down…even for elementary.
Was the purpose of that lesson to understand various facts of the civil war or was the purpose to code?
Should we be coding robots to travel hypothetical underground railroads? (Another blog post…another day)
Coding with Purpose…Just Like All Technology
I toyed around with this lesson in my head all day.
What happened to the desire to create engaging lessons? Why do we jump to coding in lieu of discussion?
Is this what happens when teachers have little support and are under pressure to not just prep for testing but also to “keep up with the time”?
I revisited the National Edtech Plan and specifically the graphic on the Digital Use Divide.
Coding is absolutely considered to be a form of active use of technology but there’s that part where technology is also absolutely a tool. Students and teachers need to know when certain tools are appropriate for the task.
Sometimes I need to make a video.
Other times I need to make a graphic.
Maybe I need to talk to experts along the way and then create something.
Maybe I can create a multimedia project of some mixed form?
Maybe I need to code.
I won’t pretend to have all of the answers as to how we choose mediums of expression or when. I will say that we should always be focused on the learning goals.
Sometimes coding makes sense.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
Here’s what I do know…
I wouldn’t code tiny robots to revist the holocaust.
Perhaps coding them to revisit slavery shouldn’t be a thing either.
Or maybe we should have some real dialogue on what it means to choose the right tool for the task but this time within the list of other creation tools, coding should be there too.