No, honest! See:
Well, a Brit(ain) award. You can never be too careful when it comes to copyright!
Ok, so I’m not really up for a Brit award. Or a Brit(ain) award for that matter. In my dreams, I’m nominated for a Brit every night. Unfortunately, I think that’s the way it’s staying…
You may or may not have guessed by now that today I was introduced to Hackasauras. When the term “hacking” was initially mentioned in my seminar this morning, I immediately had images of people hacking into government security systems and potentially starting World War 3, and this is probably what the majority of people would think. It wasn’t until it was further explained that I actually learnt it’s not exactly illegal (who knew?!) and can be a great way of teaching children coding language.
Obviously, the term hacking can be used to describe the scary things I mentioned above. The Oxford Dictionary definition states hacking as “to gain unauthorized access to data in a system or computer,” and so it is no surprise that this is a controversial subject, especially when discussed in schools. Yes, technically using programmes such as Hackasauras means you are gaining unauthorized access to a website, but it’s not quite in the harmful and alarming way it seems.
Hacksauras’ FAQS on their website state that hacking “is simply to take something that already exists and change it to make something new.” (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Hackasaurus/FAQ) This reminds me very much of discussion in seminars early last term around remixing. An idea from Doug Belshaw’s ebook “The Essential Elements of Digital Literacy” (the link to which I will paste below) around his “constructive” element suggested “developing this Constructive element of digital literacies involves knowing how and for what purposes content can be appropriated, reused and remixed. It is as much about knowing how to put together other people’s work in new and interesting ways.” (pg 48). I think this completely sums up the purpose of Hacksauras, whilst also educating children about code and programming language.
The majority of teachers will most likely, and maybe at first understandably, be extremely wary of something like this. However, once the new Computing curriculum is introduced later this year, I think it’s something that should be considered as a tool for teaching code and programming language. Children will more than likely be enthralled with the idea of being able to see their names on a BBC News webpage, or remixing an article so it looks like they’ve just signed for a top football team, so they will engage. Engaging equals learning and they’ll be learning vital skills. The fact that their work can be “published” on the Internet at the end will also encourage, as I believe children work harder when they know they will have an audience at the end. (To quash any worries, the pages are published on a separate domain to the original and all content still belongs to the original website. Nothing BAD can happen.)
Most people I’ve told about this since coming home from Uni today knocked down the idea straight away. To be fair, they don’t understand the term “hacking” quite in this context, believing it to be in the nasty, scary way I mentioned initially. They exclaimed “why would you WANT to teach kids how to hack into a computer?” A similar question could be “why would you WANT to teach kids about racism?” Because I believe education is one of the best forms of prevention. Bold statement, but I’m going there.
Now, back to writing my acceptance speech for that Brit award…
Link to purchase Doug Belshaw’s ebook: http://dougbelshaw.com/ebooks/digilit/