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What ‘IT’ Stuff Should We Teach Ninth-Graders?

August 29th, 2010 08:23 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

gphilip writes “I have been asked to contribute ideas for the preparation of a textbook for ninth graders (ages circa 14 years) in the subject of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Could you suggest material to include in such a text? More details below.”

Quite a few details, actually — how would you add to the curriculum plan outlined below?

“Background: This is for the public school system of the state of Kerala, India. The state has near-total literacy (we achieved this goal in 1991 following a massive literacy drive), and the government is keen on achieving total e-literacy as well. This drive for e-literacy — and the school curriculum that is the subject of this question — is based entirely on free and open-source software; the school system uses a customized version of Debian for teaching purposes.

ICT is a subject that has been recently introduced into the school curriculum. Currently we have, for all intents and purposes, a ‘first generation’ of students (and teachers) in this subject. To be more precise, the general public is just beginning to use computers in a big way, and the goal now is to familiarize them with the use of computers, and more specifically, with FOSS. The ICT textbook for the eighth grade (native language version), therefore, focusses on introducing various GNU/Linux software and showing how they can help in learning the other, more traditional, subjects. This textbook introduces the following software: The Gimp, Sunclock, OOO Writer, Calc, and Impress, Kalzium, Geogebra, Marble, and Kstars. In addition, there are simple introductions to elementary Python (variables, the print statement, and if-else), networking, and the Internet.

What we need: In the ninth grade textbook, we would like to shift the focus a bit. We want to introduce concepts which give more scope for creativity, and form a basis for further studies and/or a vocation in the future. The student spends one more year (the tenth grade) in the school system, and so there is scope for developing further on the theme of the ninth grade ICT book when designing the textbook for the tenth grade.

Given this background, are there some other FOSS software that, in your opinion, it would be good to introduce to our ninth graders?

I am partial towards introducing more of Python : the two loops, and perhaps the notion of a function. Do you have suggestions/pointers on how to go about doing this in a way that is easy to learn and to teach?

I would also like to give a glimpse of some ideas from computer science — the idea of an algorithm, for example — so that those kids with a math/CS aptitude get to see that there are such things out there. Which algorithms would be good for this purpose? Binary search is perhaps a good candidate, given that it is easy to describe informally, relates easily to things with which the student is familiar (phone book, dictionary), and it is easy to bring out the contrast in running time with the more natural linear search. What other algorithms would be instructive and motivating? Which other notions from computer science can be introduced to this audience in this manner?

Any other ideas/suggestions about this are also welcome.”

Source: What ‘IT’ Stuff Should We Teach Ninth-Graders?

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