Did You Know?

Did you know that LEGO is spending $40 million to market its new product line for girls? In an op-ed column for The New York Times writer Peggy Orenstein looks at LEGO’s new “Friends” collection, “… where girls can build, create, remodel and redecorate!” and feels a little sick about it.  The company has taken a beating from many bloggers and pundits for designing LEGOs that seem to adhere to every  stereotype about girls and toys (the Friends collection has softer edges, comes in pastel hues, and features characters with “bios”). However, LEGO defends itself by pointing out that it conducted years of “cultural anthropology” research to find out what girls want, and with this product line is only giving them what they want.
Knowing what we know about the powerful influence of “tinkering” and building things on girls’ interests and career choices, what do you think of LEGO’s approach?
Did you know who just celebrated a birthday? That’s right: NCLB, or No Child Left Behind. In recognition of the law turning 10 years old, The Nation took a look at how NCLB has changed the education system. One of its conclusions is that NCLB has caused an increase in standardized testing. With the forced focus on English and math standards, many schools have been forced to cut topics such as the arts, social studies, and computing out of their curriculum.
Although some have proposed additional standards for these subjects to keep them on the radar — the Computer Science Education Act suggests state standards for computing education, for example — others wonder if federal intervention would “over-standardize” and “hinder creative teaching of what can be a dynamic and diverse subject.” What do you think?
Some of us are familiar with data analytics as a tool to evaluate a website, a business endeavor, or a program’s efficacy; but did you know that data analytics are being used in classrooms, too? The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a fascinating look at how vast amounts of data about students can be used to identify which ones are struggling, who should be paired with whom in classroom labs, even which majors are a good fit for which students. Do you use analytics, anonymous or otherwise, in the classroom? What do you think about this approach?
Did you know that only 7% of Generation Y works for a Fortune 500 company? CIO has two interesting articles this week about young people and the IT workforce: one looks at the hiring forecast and the growth in employee turnover, while the other looks at trends in how young people view the workplace and their careers.
With hiring on the rise and demand for technology workers outstripping supply, companies can ill afford increased turnover costs. Yet Generation Y employees are described as seeking a more “entrepreneurial environment” than what’s traditional in many technology groups at large companies, and with that “more aggressive career development opportunities and the ability to learn new things quicker.” Does your company have a strategy for attracting and retaining Gen Y talent? If so, we want to hear about it.
Did you know that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to learn how to code? The Mayor is just one of thousands of people who have subscribed to Codecademy’s “Code Year,” in which the startup company sends a weekly lesson teaching the basics of programming using a fun, interactive, web-based tutorial.
Meanwhile, The Atlantic Wire is reporting on the growing phenomenon of accelerated workshops and bootcamps that teach programming skills with the assumption of immediate use. Although programming has long had an autodidactic culture that eschews traditional academic approaches, it seems there’s an increasing demand for both programmers and programs to train them. What do you think? Would you hire a programmer who’d “graduated” from one of these new programs?
Did You Know? is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT’s radar this week that we think might be of interest to you. Practices or content of the news presented are not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.

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