The whole problem is rooted in the abuse of the key term, language. In foreign languages the term language refers to “the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other” (Merriam-Webster) while in programming languages the term language means “a formal system of signs and symbols including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions“ (Merriam-Webster). To equate foreign languages with programming languages reduces learning a foreign language to the mere acquisition of a set of tokens or words that are semantically and syntactically glued together. It fundamentally ignores the societal, cultural and historical aspects of human languages.
Designed by Chaim Gingold, a Ph.D. student at UC Santa Cruz, indie developer and designer of Spore’s creature creator, “Earth Primer” is a reinvention of the textbook. Unlike the all-too-familiar “interactive textbooks” that are little more than pictures and animations tacked on to traditional text, “Earth Primer” starts from the ground up. It’s elegantly presented and paced.
Money and time are the two most common barriers to using games in the classroom. “Extrasolar” solves both while also striking pedagogical gold: authentic, self-motivated learning. It’s a free alternate reality game (ARG) that mimics the day-to-day life of a rover driver exploring an alien planet for a mysterious space agency. Rather than placing players in some fantastical world, they interact with what looks like a typical desktop interface, giving their rover commands, and waiting to receive photographs and data from the alien world as well as messages from their employer. Each bit of play requires only a few minutes of activity. The wait builds tension, and when matched with the relatively mundane interface and tasks, it doesn’t feel like a game — which is kind of the point. Best of all: It’s all based in real science and, like with any good ARG, has a healthy dose of mystery to give players a reason to return.
Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.
Computers and the software they run are not magic. Nor should they be perceived as such.
Learning to code is not valuable because everyone needs to program computers, but because such an integral part of modern life needs to be understood at a basic, comprehensible level.
Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.