Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lego NXT

The new generation of Lego robotics is due out in a few to several months, from Mindstorms 2.0. to Mindstorms NXT. Read about it at Nextbrick and this great article in Wired.

Tight robotics class

In teaching my second 10-week section of Lego robotics with Logo using MicroWorlds I've started out in a much tighter format than last trimester with this new group of 7th graders. I'm building their basic robots for them (currently a fan, not pictured; that's an old one, student-designed) rather than letting them design and build their own, which is really not the way I think it should be--the class should be about problems in the design and construction of the robot as well as the creating of their programs, and really how these two things affect each other.

Why am I doing it the "wrong" way? My class meets once a week for 45 minutes, well 42 minutes, which includes setup and clean up time. That's a rediculously small amount of time for messy experimentation. Given that my highest priority is that they get to learn as much as possible about programming, which gets messy enough as it is, I need to take some of the building problems out of the equation.

Monday, January 02, 2006

MySpace is not YourSpace

The tussle between MySpace users and Murdoch is very interesting and I'm on the edge of my seat watching it develop. Once Murdoch Inc. bought MySpace, it began meddling in typical cutthroat corporate fashion by blocking all references to competitor YouTube. This was a big miscalculation because of the sudden popularity of the Chronic (what?) cles of Narnia video that users wanted to bring into their MySpace pages. I think there's a lot at stake here, the insidious infiltration of corporate interests into peoples' expanding expectations to have resources available to express their social/creative interests--an impending collision.

Relevance to education? This is Media Literacy 101 as far as I'm concerned and my students need it badly. I'm glad users are seeing the influence of the site's owners, lest they continue to think that owners of social software have only the users' interests in mind.