An article on the Verge, File Not Found, about issues in teaching computational skills resonates slightly. The User Interaction abstractions have made, in many cases, for sleek and shiny interfaces that hide the complexities of the software underneath. Lost a file? On a Mac, spotlight can find it. Need to use an app, just touch the icon.
Teaching Digital Culture labs over the last couple of years has forced me to think about this, especially with the concept of app studies. How can we help students understand what apps are? How can we help them unpin the various layers within them, when the tools used have their own complexities? I do think that it is an issue here in how we teach computational skills and thinking.
As the Verge article notes, those students understand and use their digital environment in very different ways. That is another challenge and a moment of reflection. We do not have to solder boards to our machines or attach new chips for functionality that often, unless working on Bela boards, Raspberry Pis, Arduinos or similar, and command line use may be altering, but both gesture to the changing nature of machines and their use. In addition, mobile operating systems are changing the way that we use machines.
Challenges for teaching are raised in understanding the machine but also in teaching this across generational usage gaps. This year will be an interesting test, now that our changes have been bedded in, to see what else needs to be done and whether things can be improved.