Saturday, August 27, 2011

Computer Skills Homeschool


Introduction to Computers Home School curriculum

This high school introductory computer technology curriculum for the 21st Century will depend a great deal on Wikipedia and other online resources, and organized in a fashion that is hopefully useful for the homeschooling parent and student.

Here are the lessons I have so far and will post to this blog.

  • Computing History
  • Tubes, Transistors and Integrated Circuits
  • Microprocessors
  • Boolean Algebra and Circuits
  • Binary Digits
  • Unicode
  • Computer Networking History
  • The Internet
  • The World Wide Web
  • More TBD...

I'm a homeschooling dad and a technology professional. My son is now a high school junior through a home school charter school in California.

My son is taking a computer skills / technology class this semester. We looked at the various online curricula available and, to be honest, the programs we found seem to fall short and are outdated. They're all variations on introductions to Windows 95 (!) and Microsoft Office.

Anybody born since the 90s and exposed to technology knows how to use a computer mouse, login to a computer, and browse the web. Using productivity tools is also an important skill, but my son has been creating Word documents and Power Point presetations for years now. Your child and mine are a little bit beyond these basic "Introduction to Computers" classes.

So my son and I are creating our own curriculum suitable for technology aware students. We're putting a lot of work into it so I figure I might as well journal our efforts so others can benefit.

This class is not a deep dive into computer technology -- this isn't an Electrical Engineering degree -- but I will expose our students to the basics of computer hardware and software technology. We start with the history of computing, move on to basic hardware and software basics, and from there we'll explore computer networking, the Internet and the World Wide Web.

We'll dip our toes into simple HTML and Javascript programming, but the class project, so to speak, will be writing an Android application. If you don't have an Android phone, don't worry -- the Android Development Kit (available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X), comes with an Android emulator built in. My son's already decided he'd like to write a tower defense game. Since we'll be writing an Android app, that means we also need to learn a little bit of the Java programming language and object oriented programming.

I'll also post exercises here that you can use or adapt as you see fit. The point of the exercises is to reinforce the concepts taught in the lesson. In the meantime, we'll also cover computer network security, privacy issues, social networking, using cloud applications and storage, and the ethics and responsibility that comes with having all of this power available at our fingertips.

I have no idea if we'll actually cover all of these topics in a single school year, but I think it beats using up a full school year learning how to properly indent bullet points.

I'll post at least twice a week with lessons, and possibly more often than that, so check back often or add this blog to your RSS reader. If you don't know what an RSS reader is, we'll talk about that here later :-)

If you have your own ideas and links to resources, I'm all ears. Please also feel free to ask questions. I'm a Silicon Valley software engineer working for a Fortune 100 computer hardware & software corporation and have been in this game for a couple of decades now. I see the binary digits that underlie the fancy user interfaces, just like Neo in The Matrix, and if I speak too much geek speak, please don't feel intimidated, but speak up and ask me to break it down for you.

Finally, if you feel like this is handy resource for other home schooling parents, please pass the link to this blog around to your friends via email, Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and whatever other social networking applications you and your friends use. Thanks a million!

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