Category Archives: Programming

Schocken: Nand2Tetris platform

Shimon Schocken: The self-organizing computer course, June,2012. 

By Marwa Kotb.

Shimon Schocken started his TED-talk by sharing stories about how his grand parent and parents whom didn’t make it to higher education were able set their own goals, teach themselves, collaborate with the right candidates and achieve success. The author learned an important outcome from this personal experience which is educators don’t have to teach, instead they can provide the contextual supports and opportunities for students to learn which influenced later the development of his insightful curriculum and platform used to teach students how to build a computer from scratch and available online in Nand2tetris and Coursera websites (2012, June).

When I examined Nand2tetris website, the author and his team provided 14 learning modules. Each module consists of a project, a lecture, and a book chapter for students to work on in order to achieve the end product i.e. basic computer. There few key strengths of his implementation. First, the subject matter was divided into small chunks with high flexibility where each student can progress at a different rate without any pressure, the customization and flexibility of the given learning process reminded me a lot of what Netflix and amazon do. Second, the integration and interconnection between the given modules that unfortunately missing in the courses provided in many educational institutes. Third, the learner has full ownership of learning path and process, the educators roles are just to facilitate the process by providing guidance and resources. Fourth, students can personalize their learning experiences as they desire. Fifth, students learn “the material in-depth and on mastering skills, instead of just cramming for tomorrow’s test” (Pope, 2014, April 11). Last, The idea of building a basic computer piece by piece is brilliant in computer science field. As an educator in the field for years, I believe the current complexity of the subject matter and lack of integration between courses discouraged many students to complete in the major and increased dropouts. And thus, adopting such platform in educational institutes for freshmen students can resolve this dilemma and support students’ learning.

Currently the author and his team are implementing a new platform using the same approach, they are decomposing the K-12 math pedagogy into numerous mobile apps, targeting to help the younger generation develop their self-learning and self-exploring capacities, enhance their experiential learning, and become active participants in the learning community (Schocken, 2012, June).