Love Letters to Computers is Linda Liukas’ latest gift to digital learning.
On the first evening of Techfestival, Linda Liukas, Finnish author behind the Hello Ruby books, stepped onto the stage to an unsuspecting crowd. “We need to update the names and metaphors we use to describe our technology,” she stated to hundreds of digital minds, tech-entrepreneurs, politicians and investors. Twenty minutes later, networks had been built out of candy, algorithms had been danced, and Love Letters to Computers had been sent out into the world
Love Letters to Computers is a ten-part Youtube series intended for primary school educators, covering the basics of computer science. “There’s a need for teachers to have accessible tools and instructions on how they become computer science instructors,” Linda explains on a sunny Saturday afternoon during Techfestival. Two years after her first appearance on the festival’s main stage, Linda’s returned to be part of the conversation. “I like coming to Techfestival because it’s such an eclectic group of people having a positive conversation about humans and technology,” she says. “When we look back on tech history, the current computers were built in a time of counterculture and the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s. Everything was progressing towards a better future, whereas now, the environmental disaster together with the growing restlessness, do not make for a fertile ground for the next generation to build a vision of the future of tech.”
Covered in a bright-warm yellow sweater, Linda unfolds her visions and dreams with a perpetual smile. Even as she speaks of her concern over society’s fear-inducing attitude to children and technology, there is no negative energy. Everything that Linda Liukas utters is a promise of a brighter and better future. “I don’t think it helps to prophesise doom. It works as a headline in the newspaper but it doesn’t offer a solution,” she says.
With Love Letters to Computers, Linda has created a tool that enables teachers, parents and children alike to come together in a shared enthusiasm for the future of tech and computers – resonating with the fierce curiosity and positive aspiration of the Techfestival crowd.
Each video is a ‘letter’ containing a question relating to one part of computer science. Inspired by Wes Anderson’s universe, the videos add a playful and curious approach to computer science. The backdrop is the classroom, with pupils being the stars of the show.
Linda’s hope is to have more teachers see computer science as a tool for creative learning in the classroom similar to crayons, posters and play-doh. “Computer science teacher is an elusive identity,” Linda explains. “A lot of primary school teachers think that they can’t do computer science, that it is not meant for them. The material around the series is intended to give them the confidence to start experimenting and try things out in the classroom.”
Love Letters to Computers was released on Medium just two days ahead of Techfestival. The videos cover things like hardware, I/O systems, networks, machine learning as well as diversity & equity. The website includes 28 classroom worksheets, a teacher journal with prompts to reflect your learning and other resources to support professional development.
September 16, 2019