Short version: I love CUNY and I love public education. Blackboard is a parasite on both. Writing free software is the best way I know to disrupt the awful relationship between companies like Blackboard and vulnerable populations like CUNY undergraduates.
An interesting argument: that calculating devices are now ubiquitous, and math should focus on computational problem-solving instead of drilling and memorisation. An example the author cites:
Computer languages allow students to transform ideas into action. Here is a simple rule that a math teacher might describe to her students:
If the number is greater than 9, carry the 10’s place; otherwise add the number to the bottom row.
The solution for this can be expressed as an if/else statement:
if number > 9:
carry += number / 10
bottom += number
There are, as expected, plenty of opposing views in the comments, but it’s good food for thought. Also noteworthy: the comments aren’t completely stupid. Not-completely-stupid comments! On the Internet! WHAT IS THIS WORLD WE’RE LIVING IN
From the blog behind the “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” book:
“[For] the casually interested or schoolchildren with several activities competing for their attention, programming concepts like variables and loops and data types aren’t interesting in themselves. They don’t want to learn how to program just for the sake of programming. They don’t want to learn about algorithm complexity or implicit casting. They want to make Super Mario or Twitter or Angry Birds.”
We’ve actually found that our students are usually quite happy to spend lots of time making silly console-output programs, like printing a pyramid of asterisks. However, the intro programming courses we’ve conducted have been for a fairly self-selected bunch.
The book is available online for free, and it certainly looks like a great instructional resource.