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The world needs programmers

Started by Tessa Gray 22 May 2013 10:54am () Replies (28)

Yesterday it was announced David Karp (26) as the creator of Tumblr, was selling the blogging platform to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. His mum says,

When he was a little boy, Karp showed an early fascination with electronics and liked to pull toys apart and reassemble them.

Not saying it’s all about the money, there's loads of potential in coding. As Trevor Bond says,

When I did coding as a young adult, it changed my thinking into a clear, concise, sequential and logical way. I was able to see options from each step and then make the appropriate choices. It’s the potential for rewiring the brain and for problem solving that makes computer programming so valuable. 

So what does Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am and other famous ‘brains’ say about the value of computer programming or coding? WATCH THIS YOUTUBE CLIP:

I'd love to know more...

What is your school (primary/intermediate/secondary) doing to promote computer science/coding/programming?

Any e-tools or software applications you'd recommend for others to use?


  • Warren Grieve (View all users posts) 22 May 2013 5:41pm ()

    Hi all. In my RoboProgers group we are using: Scratch (new version online), Tynker ( great to setup a class and track all projects from a teacher view) similar to new Scratch, logo, NXT mindstorm, a number of boys love Gamesalad and we also get into java and iOS programming at the top end. I don;t do it all, man boys teach themselves via iTunes courses and places like codeavengers.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 23 May 2013 10:50am ()

    Wow, thank you all very much for these stories, pretty inspiring to hear what some student are getting up to as they develop a 'coding literacy'. 

    In this article on, Why all our kids should be taught how to code (2012), there's some evocative statements such as,

    Instead of educating children about the most revolutionary technology of their young lifetimes, we have focused on training them to use obsolescent software products.....

    ....So we need to admit that "ICT in schools" has become a toxic brand. We have to replace it with a subject that is relevant, intellectually sustaining and life-enhancing for students.

    The article goes on to say let's replace ICT with 'computer science' as a term - which involves a new way of thinking about problem-solving, "It's called computational thinking".

    Where kids would develop key concepts such as:

    • algorithms (the mathematical recipes that make up programs)
    • cryptography (how confidential information is protected on the net)
    • machine intelligence (how services such as YouTube, NetFlix, Google and Amazon predict your preferences)
    • computational biology (how the genetic code works)
    • search (how we find needles in a billion haystacks)
    • recursion (a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem)
    • heuristics (experience-based techniques for problem-solving, learning, and discovery)
    Where the use of technologies like Scratch, Lego NXT, Sketch Up, Codeavengers, Arduino, Picaxe, Codea etc would mean we're integrating technologies in a purposeful way, rather than using them as an instuctional tool. [http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/04/using-technology-vs-technology.html]

    Using or integrating technology
  • Chrissie Butler (View all users posts) 23 May 2013 11:04am ()

    Codeacademy - a great place to learn for students and teachers.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 23 May 2013 11:24am ()

    Ohh Chrissie, that's fantastic, I want to go and play in there myself!!

  • Karen (View all users posts) 23 May 2013 11:18am ()

    Chrissie I was having a look at Codeacademy yesterday.  It looks amazing!

  • Hamish Chalmers (View all users posts) 23 May 2013 11:56am ()

    I love it how many of those famous programmers (and there's heaps of unknowns doing awesome stuff too!) point out that:

    1) Many of them just started wanting to do something quite simple - "...didn't start off as wanting to learn all of computer science...it just started off because I wanted to do this one simple thing...I wrote this little program and then added a little bit to it, then when I wanted to add something new I looked it up, in a book or on the internet, then added a little bit to it."

    2) Then the dropbox dude who makes the comparison to sport "it starts out being very intimidating but you get the hang of it over time."

    Great stuff!

    I don't know if everyone should learn to program but before deciding whether or not to but they should definitely hear experts doing an amazing job of describing the learning process like that. Even without wading into the ethical debate on whether or not to teach it to everyone in schools (which is very interesting too imo) just seeing the learning process articulated in that way inspires me heaps as a teacher.

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 31 May 2013 7:57am ()

    HI all,

    Just saw this infographic come through today. A neat summary of the history of programmed languages...Takes me back;)


  • Patrick Pink (View all users posts) 31 May 2013 8:31am ()

     Samantha Bail is a computer scientist and serial project organiser. Originally from Germany, she has been living in Manchester for the past five years. She has a masters degree in Advanced Computer Science and is currently busy finishing her PhD thesis which deals with debugging support for logic-based knowledge bases. Outside of academia, Samantha runs Manchester Girl Geeks, a not-for-profit group which organises monthly workshops for girls and women of all ages who are interested in science and technology.

    Passionate about the idea of spreading knowledge of what goes on inside a computer, Samantha talksabout some of the exciting initiatives and workshops which do this, especially those seeking to engage with young people. With the take up of computer science and technology higher education courses in the UK plummeting year on year, Samantha discusses the importance in nurturing engineering interest and some of the barriers which have and continue to exist.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 30 Oct 2013 3:35pm ()

    There's seems to be a burgeoning problem evolving in New Zealand. Today's Herald article, Booming NZ game industry faces skills shortage (30 Oct, 2013) highlights how creating computer games is a huge money-making spin for New Zealand. It reads,

    New Zealand's thriving video game industry boosted its earnings by more than 85 per cent last year but future growth could be hampered by a shortage of graduates....

    Most of the industry's revenue - about $31 million - came from from exports of smartphone and online games.

    The problem lies in the fact that there's a market for games creation, but a shortgage of graduates in this field.

    We often talk about promoting/nurturing creativity and innovationin e-learning. I wonder if we also say to our students, "Ohh you'd be great in the gaming industry or media industries, why don't you pursue a career in..."

    Sometimes those 'non-traditional' career pathways could equate to real economic return. What do you think?

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 15 Nov 2013 1:28pm ()

    Kia ora koutou,


    Just on sharing an opportunity for any nascent programmers in school. Do pass this on to them:

    Google Code-in

    This is an global, online contest introducing 13-17 year old pre-university students to open source software development. The contest will start on Monday, November 18th. Prizes include certificates, t-shirts, and 20 grand prize winners will win a trip to Google headquarters in California, USA next spring for themselves and a parent or legal guardian. Check out the video from the blog:


    The Google Code-in contest is similar to the Google Summer of Code program for university students in that it pairs students with mentors from open source projects. 

    You can learn more about the details of the contest on this blog post http://google-opensource.blogspot.ca/2013/10/google-code-in-2013-and-google-summer.html and the program site google-melange.com

    Over the last 3 years over 1200 students from 71 countries have participated. We hope to expand the program this year and have a record number of students participate."

  • Tara O'Neill (View all users posts) 15 Nov 2013 3:50pm ()

    The programming Challenge 4 Girls 2013 was held in Gisborne today.  I didn't get to go but wanted to put this in the discussion because I think it is such a cool idea.   The Programming Challenge 4 Girls seeks to provide an opportunity for Year 10 girls to experience programming so that they might understand the rewarding challenges that are provided by the combination of logic, problem-solving and creativity involved in programming - and thus ultimately consider Computing as a tertaiary study option and then career choice.  It utilizes their logical thinking skills, their problem solving skillls, their ability to think creatively and also seeks to encourage the develpment of team work.  It was developed in 2008 so well done Gisborne. They are now taking it around NZ and overseas.

    More info at Remo.Williams@twoa.ac.nz  or remo@codeshack.co.nz

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