The Innovators: Ada Lovelace – Kindling the Fire

This year I am teaching the two year IB Diploma course Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS).  One of my goals for my class is to incorporate a bit of history about IT into the class.  However, the main focus of the class is hands on IT projects, and social ethical considerations/conflicts. Although I find the history to be super important–and very interesting–it is not the direct material they will be tested on, therefore I don’t want to assign a lot of extraneous history reading for them.


When Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaccson’s history of the IT industry, The Innovators, was published this fall.  I got super excited about incorporating it into my class.  However I then realized I really didn’t have time, without overloading the students or ignoring important projects/topics. The I hit upon an idea. Instead of having the whole class read the book, I would just have each student be responsible for one chapter to present to the class.  However I did not want them to only present boring powerpoints filled with the information from the chapter therefore I required them to choose the most important story in the chapter and present it as a graphical story. I thought this would be a good way for them to practice reading complex texts for relevant information, as well as their presentation skills.

I decided to model this first for them so I took Chapter 1, Ada Lovelace.  The prezi I presented is published above.  (You can also visit the always interesting Brain Pickings has this wonderful write up of the chapter here.) As I am wont to do, I spent a little more time explaining the background of the time period–The Romantics, Luddites, Adam Smith’s Pin Factory, etc.. However I am very excited about the student’s upcoming presentations and hope to post them here.


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