Programming for everyone

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Today, I received a a SURF Teaching award for Teacher of the Year!

The jury is celebrating my online courses “with a total of 250,000 students in her MOOCs, Hermans’s work reaches far beyond TU Delft”. They also praise my original, innovative and innovative way of teaching that provides a significant contribution to the ICT skills of future students worldwide. I think it’s awesome that my creative way of teaching has convinced the jury, but I think it’s even more fun that SURF will support me in the coming year in expressing my mission:

My mission: “Program for everyone”

The SURF award does not consist of a money or a figurine but of help with my mission. Of course, that already starts because a lot of people are already reading this blog post (hopefully). That’s already the first reward, that I can use this post to share my mission: Programming for everyone.

Programming for everyone, of course, has two components: programming is important, and that we should try our best to make it accessible to all. In this post I will tell you more about both parts.

Why programming? For your work, society and art!

I am talking about it a lot it, I know, but everyone really must be able to program! If you want to read a more extensive piece, check those links or this blog post. In this post I explain that programming is so important for 3 reasons:

  • To know what computers are all capable of using them in your work. Not only as a programmer but also as a teacher or a car mechanic or a biologist. We really do not need more programmers, but more people who can use computers well.
  • To be able to understand and address social problems. The news today is one big software bulletin! Just think of the American elections last year with Russian hackers and Clinton’s emails. You can only grasp that if your software fits well.
  • Because making something the most fun is that it is, and you can make the most beautiful and crazy things with computers. With programming you can create more than games or websites! You can also create art, animations, paintings or music.

Why ‘for everyone’? Because programming is power!

Okay, programming is fun and important, but why should everyone be able to do it? I’m going to turn it around. How bad would it be if not everyone can program?

If you look closely at the three points above, you see that they are all about having power in society. The three points are about doing your job well, deciding about society, and influencing society with your artistic expression. Those are the most important way to shape society: earning money, deciding and art. If we do not make sure that all people have this power at their disposal, we create a world in which very few people can decide. If you look at the world as it is now, you see that especially white boys who have this power at their disposal.

And you recognise that in the solutions that are being made! These guys mainly make software to replace their mothers. To do the laundry, to bring food and clean your house. Are these the most important things we can do with technology? I do not think so, and I will do my best in the coming year to ensure that more people have access to the power programming brings.

How? Course integration!

If we want everyone to be able to program, then, of course, schools are the best place for that, because you in schools you can reach all the children. At what level that is, either elementary school or high schools or both, that does not really matter to me. Of course this will be a struggle for teachers since they already need to do so many things, healthy eating and moving and citizenship, pfffff! How could programming possibly be added?

One of our solutions we are successful with is integrating programming with regular subjects. So don’t program a game but program an animation to practice the tables of multiplication or a puzzle to learn grammar.

We have found that course integration has a number of advantages:

  • Working on programming goals and common goals will save time
  • Teachers are much more confident about the class when they work on a domain they snap like the tables
  • Programming for more than just games shows to students that it is very useful and useful.

So on to programming at all schools!

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