Ok, starting a new blog post for this session, since I got a little wordy before.
So! Next session – teenage girls and technology, sesion run by Lynn Langit, Microsoft Developer Evangelist.
This is a topic that’s very close to my heart. I was that little girl who wanted to learn how to program and I first started “programming” in BASIC when I was 7. It wasn’t easy AT ALL. The programming books I was using weren’t even at all helpful, all I could do was copy code into the computer and try to figure out what it meant. Tutorials didn’t really exist, after all, operating systems were being rev’d faster than the books could be written. I’d spend hours typing hundreds of lines into the computer to learn how to draw a pretty picture (or something), and lose it all as soon as the computer as rebooted. Not a great environment for learning.
So! Microsoft has a program called Kodu that runs on X-Box (and is being ported to be for academic purposes) to help kids learn programming using a visual interface to make a game. Call it the second incarnation of Alice, which I was amazed with yesterday. This program is targeted at kids 7 and up, is multiplayer (wowie), and teaches them the basics of using objects, textures, and so on.
Another program is called Small Basic, which is, well, small basic. Lynn is demoing it by moving a turtle across the screen (no joke – turtle!), which is so cute. The environment is nice and easy for kids to use, and HELPFUL, there’s documentation split on the screen with the code.
It is really exciting to hear about these efforts going on for geeky girls. Previously, people kind of just sat around telling girls they could get into tech. “Sure you can be in tech, nothing’s stopping you.”
Finally it’s about action!! SHOW girls what they can do, show them other people doing the same.
Next up, a session about WordPress! Maybe I’ll learn how to make this blog look a bit less, oh, “clearly designed by a non-designer,” and get over my php issues.