Learning to Think Like a Computer

    • Tabitha Colon
      Tabitha Colon

      Hi Professor,

      I was trying to read the article, but it says that the page can't be found. 

      • Golanda Prince-Trim
        Golanda Prince-Trim

        Hi  professor,

        Unfortunately I am getting the same error message like Tabitha. All that comes up is a page of ads and the page not found message.

        • Gerald Ardito
          Gerald Ardito

          Hi Tabitha and Golanda,

          I have fixed the link. It now works. I apologize for the inconvenience.

          Chris,

          Thanks for the assist.

          • Christopher Sarcone
            Christopher Sarcone

            I asked my students the other day if they would know how to function without their computers.  I literally said: "Would you know what to do if the lights went out?"  My point to them was that their reliance on the ever evolving technology is wonderful, but that it is important to understand how things work.  Pappano alludes to this issue the article by stating "it's suddenly not enough to be a fluent user of software interfaces, rather [it is more important] to [u]derstand what lies behind the computer's seeming magic..."

            This speaks to deep understanding.  Some students have become so robotic, they can't see past basic instructions.  You can tell them that yellow and blue together make green, but if you hand them cans of paint and tell them to make green, they will wait for green to happen because they were not told to "mix" the paint.  I found this issue the most difficult to overcome in the classroom.

            Truth be told teaching history correctly is done using the abstraction model that was discussed in the article. History books are full of patterns, and so it is more useful to teach students a framework for how things happen, and then allow them to essentially plug and play the facts.  Are the cause of revolutions really that much different from place to place?

            It is for this reason that I have developed a greater appreciation for computer programming, and more specifically this idea of learning to think like a computer, because I believe it will help students process other subject matter on a deeper level.

            • Mei Wai Lam
              Mei Wai Lam

              This issue of over reliance on technology and not knowing how the world works without technology is not a recent occurrence. Before the current information technology revolution, there was the industrial revolution. Back then, people must had this same concern as we have now. Just talk to a twelve years old child and tell her or him to imagine a world without electronic communication devices like the telephone. Explain to her or him that people used to communicate by writing words by hand on pieces of paper and expected to wait a few days before it reaches the receivers. To further bewilder the child, explain how natural phenomenons like thunderstorms can delay the process or even destroy those words.


              Ideally, the goal of teaching is to make students understand why things or events are the way that they encounter it. Let me bring an analogy from information science; data vs information. Data is useless if you do not know how to make use of it. Data is like knowing how to turn on machines and make it works while information is like knowing how machines are able to do the work for you. In our case, information means knowing how to program. One must think like a computer in order to command it to do what we want it to do for us.

               

              • Gerald Ardito
                Gerald Ardito

                Chris and Mei,

                I appreciate your comments. And they make me think about the real need to be clear about what we are talking about when we ask these kinds of questions. Mei gets at this when she says:

                Ideally, the goal of teaching is to make students understand why things or events are the way that they encounter it. Let me bring an analogy from information science; data vs information. Data is useless if you do not know how to make use of it. Data is like knowing how to turn on machines and make it works while information is like knowing how machines are able to do the work for you. In our case, information means knowing how to program. One must think like a computer in order to command it to do what we want it to do for us.

              Computer Science for Teachers Spring 2017

              Computer Science for Teachers Spring 2017

              The online home for the Spring 2017 CS for Teachers course