An Upside to Text Chatting about Code

I’ve slowed down on posting about the remote education situation because now most of the challenges have to do with supporting specific students. While these are still interesting challenges, being at a small school with small classes, any amount of detail about these situations can easily end up revealing personal information. So, take it as given – students are struggling in unique ways and individualized solutions need to be found. I think that’s universal to all of our courses right now.

In terms of updates I can make, I noticed a nice benefit to having students use chat for problem solving today. I’m having students discuss strategies and outline pseudocode before independently writing and compiling their own programs. In the classroom, if someone had a compiler error, a teammate would just look at it and say “oh, change this here”. Now, students are asking what the compiler error is and having to envision what would cause that error and brainstorm solutions without seeing the code. I like that students are practicing talking about code instead of just looking at code together. I’m noticing students are asking each other to clarify their questions and suggesting proper technical language that might be what they mean – not to correct them but because they are seeing how using the right terms helps them understand. It’s thrilling.

I’m getting better at remembering to tell students when class is over and they can stop conversing (though making it clear they aren’t being kicked out of the chat, much like they can continuing talking in the hallway after class). I’m trying to remember to thank each group for their good discussion or collaboration as we wrap up each day.

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