Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Computer History Project

In CS Principles we are starting to look at how computers have changed society and their overall cultural impact. Computer History Project PDF

For this project I assigned the pairs. I try not to pair students that are more than 8 points away from each other grade wise. This really helps cut down on the whole one partner that does nothing thing.

When they are done we present the projects, in order by era. In between we stop and discuss how the project fits into the bigger picture.

I took a slightly different path in the presentations this year. Just like it is easy to fall back into teaching and assessing code, it is also easy to fall back into just testing facts and dates about computer science topics.
The goal here is for them to demonstrate a broad understanding of computer science and how computing devices have changed through time.

We will eventually connect this content to the broader idea of how computers have fundamentally changed our society and culture.

So during the presentations I asked them to take notes, not on the names and dates, but on the broad themes covered.

The themes were:
* Digital vs Analog
* Memory
* Storable Programs
* Heat issues
* Speed

They will use this to answer several essay questions on their test next week.

Some sample questions:
--> How did the analog storage of information impact what early computers could do?
--> What changes in computer hardware over the past century have allowed computers to change from devices used only by governments and universities to the personal devices we all use today?
--> How did the development of the Internet change the types of devices developed?
--> How does conflict impact technological development?

Overall the presentations were great. The groups worked well together and really did some nice visuals. Half chose Prezi and half did Poewer Points.

My favorite part of the whole thing is when a student answer the question "What is the difference between analog and digitial" and she said "analog means a human operator made it work".  I love this explination.

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