From the archives
"The Long Tail" has been lauded and quoted at length. But what does the book actually say, and how does it stand up to scrutiny. In this lengthy review I give it a cautious "thumbs up".
What’s the connection between Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and me? Well, it’s a bit tenuous. Apart from the obvious, that we all liked computing (in effect), it is that they appear in a new graphic novel, and I love graphic novels.
Although I slowed down over the Easter break – at least in terms of writing blog posts – I did write a few articles. Here is a selection that you may find interesting and useful. While you’re reading those, I shall be working on the next edition of the newsletter Digital Education.
Like many Englishmen, the most important thing to me is having a decent cup of tea. So I was delighted when we bought a variable temperature kettle. This doesn’t just heat up the water to boiling point. It lets you select the right temperature for the kind of drink you have. But how does it work?
I’ve long been an ardent advocate of spreadsheets. They can be an invaluable tool in business, education or any other field in which planning, cost or both are paramount. As far as Computing and ICT is concerned, they can be used for teaching modelling and computational thinking. However, they have been denigrated as being “just” an office tool, far removed from the exciting world of coding or robotics.
I have suggested 5 reasons to have a Computing news section of your lessons. If you think that’s a good idea, here’s how to go about it.
I thought these posts from the archives might be interesting: 6 ideas for teaching the Computing curriculum. Unfortunately, being mathematically challenged, I originally inadvertently designated two of them as “#2”. That’s why I never became a maths teacher. However, I have since renumbered them, so they start at zero, which is, computationally speaking, a pretty good thing to do. Anyway, although the series refers to the “forthcoming Computing curriculum”, the ideas themselves are still useful I believe. I hope you agree.
If, like me, you enjoy reading comics and graphic novels, and are interested in Computing, you may already be familiar with the blog called 2D Goggles Or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. This relates the story of the development of the Difference Engine and other aspects of the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Their adventures are based on (mostly) real events and episodes, with a lot of poetic licence thrown in! I thoroughly recommend reading the adventures, and I suggest encouraging your students to do so too. It will help them learn about the development of computing and computer programming in an enjoyable way.
I don’t usually like to blow my own trumpet/toot my own horn, but I thought these comments were so nice that I’d share them. I’m one of those people who, if I see a delegate looking a bit fed up, I start to wonder if they are going to storm out and demand their money back or something. I mean, it could be that they are worried about their gas bill, or that that is just their normal expression, but I start to worry anyway. So nice comments are always a bonus. Look at this one, for example:
Handsome, debonair and erudite, the presenter dazzled us with his brilliance and –
Oh, wait a minute. That’s my own self-evaluation.
In order to try to solve a problem using a spreadsheet, which is a tool for modelling or simulation, you have to do the following things:
Starting tomorrow, a new series of occasional posts about my research into self-publishing.
The first two articles are: