A new MOOC: Coding at school with Free Software

(Italian version)

The new MOOC Coding at school with Free Software is scheduled to open on September 17. This English edition will be used for the Learning Event “Coding with LibreLogo: a step back into the future”, which will take place from 17 to 28 September, and then for the project QuaMMELOT – Qualification for Minor Migrants Education and Learning Open access – On line Teacher-training.

The MOOC platform is that of Federica.eu, a smart Italian reality: vision, experience, great quality. It is thanks to the constant presence of Federica’s staff that it was possible to set up a MOOC from scratch in August.

This course is about coding and computational thinking at school. A very hot topic nowadays. The approach is out of the trendy mainstream, usually focused on catchy interfaces, click-and-drag actions, coloured blocks programming GUIs. Instead, by focusing on textual based educational programming languages, we try to take a step back so as to proceed more firmly and fruitfully towards the future.

We go back to the seminal work of Seymour Papert, mathematicians, computer scientist and pedagogist who invented the Logo language, as a tool to learn math, to learn to think, finally to gain confidence in its own thinking capacity.

We also go back to some theoretical topic of Turtle Geometry, developed by Harold Abelson and Andrea diSessa, scholars and coworkers of Papert. But, at the same time, a lot of workable examples are discussed and offered to be studied and further developed. Basic first steps for kids, geometric studies, linguistic games, fractals, simulation of biological and physical systems are the topic covered by the exercises, up to the reproduction of celestial bodies orbits. To work with them, as in a lab, you just have to download a software, load the examples and run them. The exercises address a broad range of contexts, from primary school to first years of university college. Just pick up what’s good for you.

Last but not least, only Free Software tools are proposed, such as LibreOffice, LibreLogo, Kojo, Turtle Academy, Xlogo. By using Free Software tools we get maximum accessibility for everybody and, at the same time, we give an implicit ethical message that is crucial for a sound educational system.

You’ll have to work hard but you’ll have fun!

1. A step back into the future

  • Text vs blocks coding
  • Seymour Papert: from “computer literacy” to the “emotional roots” of learning
  • Free software – technology and ethics: the tools we’re going to use

2. Hands on the tool

  • Logo – LibreLogo, Kojo, Turtle Academy, Xlogo
  • Logo vs Scratch
  • Activating LibreLogo in LibreOffice

3. The fear of math

  • Mathophobia – breaking the line between science and humanities
  • The dissociated learning model
  • Not only math – linguistic game

4. Drawing with LibreLogo

  • Trying first basic commands
  • First simple drawings
  • First simple fancy effects

5. Turtle Geometry

  • Turtle geometry vs Euclidean and Cartesian geometries
  • Basic constructs – loops, procedures, variables
  • Turtle geometry for syntonic learning

6. More fancy commands

  • Colours
  • Off the shelf figures
  • Cartesian space of page

7. The Turtle does the Turtle

  • Randomness
  • Scientific simulations
  • Letting the Turtle take decisions – IF instructions

8. Recursion, growth, fractals

  • Recursion
  • Understanding a fractal generation
  • Getting more natural: recursion and randomness

9. Marta’ story – The Turtle Total Trip Theorem

  • Marta’s letter: an exploration between reasoning and wonder
  • Euristic, numerical and mathematical solutions
  • Turtle Total Trip Theorems

10. Starting to go ‘round and ‘round… to the Halley comet

  • Body-drawing circles
  • At the heart of differential equations
  • LibreLogo Physics lab

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