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5 reasons to love Khan academy for computer science

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Stop! Take 10 seconds to consider a world where computer programs did not exist.   In this world of “no computer programs,”  the following is true:

  • The internet does not exist.
  • Facebook does not exist.
  • You would not be reading this blog article.
  • Your phone would just make phone calls… Oh… phones won’t work either.
  • No angry birds. 🙁
As you can see, the world without computer science and programming would be less delightful.   I feed my family with computer science every day.    I have worked as a professional programmer for over 11 years.   As a software engineer, I have the opportunity to create software solutions so that engineers do better engineering.   I love my work.   In contrast with other types of engineering that require potentially expensive raw materials, computer science enables you to convert ideas to cool stuff with a computer, focus, and passion.  Computer science is service oriented too.   The craft of programming serves business, science, education, and medicine.
Like many in the industry, I am concerned about passing on the craft of computer science to future generations.   I personally would like to see the United States remain a leader in innovation.    As a US community, we need to mentor the next generation of NASA engineers, video game designers, and innovators in health technology.    As we nurture these young minds, their leadership will give rise to new jobs and a thriving economy.
I really appreciate the work Mr. Khan and his team have done with Khan Academy for computer science.   If you have not visited their site, I would I would invite you to click this link.   For more background on the work of the Khan Academy and flipping, please visit my previous article.

5 reasons to love Khan academy for computer science

  1. JavaScript is the language of the web:  The JavaScript language could be one of the most influential languages in computer science.  Why? Most major websites will not function without JavaScript.   Great products that we love today like GMail, Google maps, WordPress, Google, and Evernote could not function without JavaScript.   I believe it would be challenging to find a major website that did not include a few lines of JavaScript.
  2. It’s like LOGO on steroids: Teaching programming with pictures is a great idea. When I started to learn about computers in elementary school,  the popular game based learning experiences included “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiago”, “Oregon trail” and “Number munchers.”   At this period in technology, the Apple II was bleeding edge technology.    We loved our 8-bit graphics!   I was one of those weird kids who enjoyed the idea of drawing with a computer.   We used a small computer programming language called LOGO to create small pictures.   In researching this blog post, it appears that LOGO has been ported to the web browser.  Cool!!!
  3. Instant feedback: As I teach my kids about technology, I have observed that they react to instant feedback.    I believe one of the killer features of Khan Academy CS is that you can make edits to programs and instantly see the impact of the change in a picture.
  4. Math is yummy when paired with programming: I remember learning about 2D coordinate systems on graph paper.    This technology can help math teachers introduce this idea with programming.    The introduction to drawing tutorial teaches the idea of drawing using simple shapes using coordinate systems.
  5. It teaches basic programming, games, and more: As a student of computer science, I am amazed at the scope of learning that’s possible through this site.   Introducing basic concepts like variables, loops, calculations and statements can be challenging concepts to teach.   The site teaches very robust topics beyond this scope including game programming, fractals, and game of life.
I hope you take Khan Academy for CS a spin.

What are other tools and games that help teach computer science and math?

 

 

 

Picture taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/imcomkorea/3949119219/

 

 

 
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