Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sure it's stupid, but...



Kudos to you if you made it past the 2 minute mark; it's not that hilarious or entertaining.  Sure it's stupid, but think about what the kids are trying to do: use a computer to order a pizza.  They know the sequence of questions typical in a pizza order: where do you live, what is your phone number, what would you like, etc.  I'm assuming they've set up some of these text-to-speech phrases in advance and are playing them at times in the appropriate moment.  How stupid would they be if they set up an actual working system where people can use a computer to order a pizza in a city?

Well guess what; it's already been done.  In some cities there already exists online ordering systems for restaurants, grocery stores, movie tickets, and yes, pizza.  So what's my point?  Mark Zuckerberg started off by creating an online beauty ranking program.  His social network, Facebook, is now estimated to be worth $50 billion.  The ability to "think outside of the box" is considered to be a great asset in today's rapidly changing world.  So don't be so quick to dismiss students' ideas on how to use technology.  Of course there are boundaries of decency and what not, but we should encourage creative thinking and not be so particular on one true solution.

The trick would be trying to harness the kid's prank into something productive.  He's halfway there already.  He has the idea.  He knows the questions used in pizza ordering.  So how does he put it in a usable format?  What if the order is from outside of the delivery area?  What are the pathways the system uses when there are different options?  Can he draw a diagram of this system?  Can he express it in a spreadsheet?  Do you see where I'm going here?  Teachers also need to think outside the box and devise thoughtful lessons that stimulate young minds.  The prankster of today could be tomorrow's billionaire.
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