There are times I miss teaching – right now it’s looking at the art of the possible with IoT devices. In particular, the capabilities you can offer students in the classroom with Raspberry PI and Littlebits kits. Potential is achieved not just because it exists but because it can be produced and developed quickly and/or easily. I taught a summer technology class in the day’s where our 20 meg HyperCard stack on Dinosaurs took 20 floppies and lots of swapping to load. I can build an IoT camera with more memory that that Macintosh SE had all those years ago. And that camera is smaller than a dollar bill in total size.
The concept of STEAM for education, well I believe in CSTEAM (connected Science technology engineering art and math) is beyond amazing right now. The kits from Littlebits are so easy to use and integrate quickly. You can quickly integrate Raspberry PI instances and build compute and low level hardware programming, quickly and easily. This is not the realm of rocket scientists or companies with massive R&D budgets. You can get started in this space for less than 100 dollars. (US).
This of course carries on a dream I had as a former educator. One that my father had first, and passed on to me. The concept of getting science more integrated into education. Beyond science, adding the components of engineering, technology and math to build out and deliver a holistic view of skills kids will need as they embark on the edge of the almost nearly information age.
I added the C to STEAM. Why? Because I believe that connection is a component of what needs to be educated today. It is not just the connection of social media. It is beyond that; connection is a huge component of the future information age. What is connected, what will be connected and later what should have been connected all along. Connection isn’t just the social handshake of “liking” something on social media. It is the connection of people to resources beyond where they are. In my book The Syncverse I talked about this concept. I expanded the concept further in my book Inter-Generational Knowledge Transfer. All of the books leading (links below) towards the concept of easily moving information from where it is to where it needs to be.
The Internet of Things, or Cyber Physical Systems as NIST calls them, opens the door for much more exploration much earlier. Yes, there are risks. One of the realities of technology is that bad actors do take control. Hackers as we call them, seek to control IoT devices to use them as bots in attacks and for other processing purposes. The good news about Hackers is they expose weakness. The bad news is there are more holes than patches at times.
My recommendation is that elementary schools create disconnected sand boxes for young children to consider and play with. That those sand boxes are then shared with older students who consider ways to secure and improve the security of the devices created. Allow for the freedom of exploration safely without forcing rules.
Then use the application of rules as a teaching model for older students. Make the Internet of Things an exploration and a lesson in how to secure many deployed devices. Take STEAM, add the C and you have CSTEAM build around IoT/CPS and security.
That is when I miss teaching. The art of the possible is so much greater now than it was 25 years ago when I left the classroom. Certainly, there was more I could have done then. But now, I could do so much more. Imagine lettings young 2nd and 3rd graders loose creating devices to change the world. Then asking 10th graders and 12th graders to secure those devices. To take them and with the 2nd and 3rd graders launch Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. To build the brave new world, starting with CSTEAM as early as we can. Today is the only day you have. Tomorrow is a promise, but not a guarantee. We need to start building the future much earlier. It would usher in the information age that much faster than we are going to do with our current systems…
CSTEAM is the future.