"Today we will be creating an app for you blackberry in which you can rate boys in order of hotness."
"Today we will be creating a fashion blog where you can share your latest outfits and styles"
Hannah Dee wrote:
I think this is falling into the Girly Telescope Trap. Take something vaguely computing, stick "stuff we think girls like" (fashion, boys) on the end, turn it pink, and HEY IT'LL APPEAL TO THE GIRLS. And I'm sorry, but creating a blog is trivial.
Why not ask the class to brainstorm ideas for apps - see what topics people want to create. If you find the whole class making fashion apps, then cool, that's what they want to do. But computing is a set of principals and tools and ways of thinking - if we're careful about how we frame it (make an app, make a game, build a website, show these skills) we can be properly gender neutral and we can let the kids be creative about what they want to use computing for.
The debate continues in the comments below. Thanks very much to our three guests - and thanks for all your comments and questions so far.
2.03pm: Pete Bradshaw of the Open University notes:
One of the things not to do is to pack the curriculum with stuff that you need to know. And you set open ended tasks. For example... the BAFTA Be Very Afraid series. Why Be Very Afraid? Because it can be frightening what students can achieve (see hubmum's list above too).
How did the learn to produce these videos? By being given the tools, the confidence and the freedom. By being guided, facilitated, trusted. By being allowed to collaborate, to enquire. By not being told "You are 13... you must do this".
That way they develop attitudes that enable them to apply their understandings to future scenarios.
An analogy... I learnt German not by endless tables of verbs, conjugations, cases etc. Not intially. But by speaking, listening, enjoying... my teachers gave me the opportunity to try things out (don't ever ask me to book a curling rink in Tirolean German though).
1.52pm: My colleague Laura Oliver asked:
how do you teach skills/encourage ways of learning that will equip students with ability to deal with the quickly developing nature of technology and the tech industry? e.g. how best to keep their understanding current (especially I'm thinking at school leaver age?) so they are in the best possible position to apply these skills
Emma Mulquenny (hubmum) replied:
Well, through Young Rewired State what I have seen is that the kids started with very basic rudimentary knowledge of a little bit of everything. Then I noticed they started coming to every hack day, challenging themselves to learn something fast, over the course of two days and then showing off the results - then going home an dpractising more, perhaps being mentored by others they met on the weekend, or on twitter or stack overflow and the rest... This works well for the 16-18s.
Make it a time challenge and a competition, provide the stimulus (personally I always choose the route of the hack day) and go from there.