Thursday, January 15, 2009

Storycorps for computer science

If you listen to NPR regularly, you're probably aware of StoryCorps (tagline: listening is the greatest gift). It is an interview project. In its most simple version, it is a booth that two people go into and one interviews the other. The interview is recorded and the two people get a copy of the recording; another copy goes to the Library of Congress. The larger goal is in recording the life stories of regular people throughout the US. (I have wanted to interview my dad for a long time - I know he has interesting stories about growing up Jewish in the forties and fifties.)

At Rebooting Computing, I went into a breakout about problem-based learning grades 7-14. We spent some time talking about projects like the University of Washington's "Why choose CSE" videos, that try to bust the negative image of computing as a geeky pursuit for white boys. 

This lead to the idea of having Storycorps for CS. I think some of it was interviewing people - famous, regular, anyone - to hear their stories. I would be even more excited if we had videos or writings that were stories of things that happened. In terms of project-based learning, they would be more like case studies. Owen Astrachan told a story about someone faking the Amazon security certificate by using PS3s (or something like that... this is why I need videos or writings!) 

As a K-12 teacher, if I had a video of (for example) Owen talking energetically about the security certificate hack, I could use it as a case study, as a sub lesson, or just as a pointer for my interested students. We have a lot of videos about people in CS and how they're not all geeks. They're nice videos but I have a hard time really using them in a meaningful way. I'd love to have a lot of different kinds of videos so different teachers could use them in different ways. And I'd LOVE to have case studies around things in CS so I could have my students study them in addition to the other great teaching methods I have. 

1 comment:

  1. Now that is a most excellent idea!! I could certainly use stories in my classes too: intro, to give the students more of a context as to "why study computing/what can you do in CS?"; upper-level classes, to provide context for the content we're covering; etc. The possibilities are endless!