My experiences as a learner have informed my approach to designing learning as much as my experiences as an instructor.
I am the last person anyone, especially myself, would expect to find in a computer science class. Not due to lack of interest, but lack of prerequisite knowledge and—well—competency. Math is not what I am good at.
The experience, as a graduate student, of being the only absolute beginner in class full of computer science majors, was extraordinary and transformed my attitude toward myself as a learner and the learning process.
Through this course, Learning Computing, I discovered that we all have much more capacity for understanding complex and highly abstract concepts than conventional education methods lead us to believe about ourselves and others. Much of the focus was a on how to teach computer science in such a way that we broaden the appeal, support success, and increase retention, which is a goal set that can be applied to education in general. The essence of the course was addressing how to engage learners exactly like myself in discovering and developing their capacity for computational thinking. It was in this class that I discovered such thinkers as Seymour Papert, Mitchell Resnik, and Jeannette Wing.
I was under the impression that we would not do any actually programming in this course, but much to my terror—and surprised delight—we did.
My main project for this class was a course I designed in Moodle, the premise of which was that playing Minecraft incidentally teaches computational thinking skills. Using Minecraft (like Minecraft Edu) as a vehicle for instruction is well-documented, but it is the incidental learning inherent in Minecraft, that interested me here.Starr_Learning_CT_MC_12-19
I incorporated how creating logic gates in Minecraft could help learners understand concepts taught in school through creating functioning virtual models and inspire a deeper exploration of what is possible in Minecraft. This was my introduction to the idea of a virtual learning environment.Individual-Game-Critiique-Form_KStarr