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An Enabling e-Learning forum: Coding, digital literacy or a new kind of language?

Started by Tessa Gray 30 Jul 2015 9:08am () Replies (20)

In the holidays, several students in Tauranga (yr 3-6) got to do what most kids would love to do, - go back to school! Codebrite school that is, where they got to play with iPads and robots learning simple programming and computer coding language. The kids were buzzing, the parents were intrigued, all-in-all, it was a success.

So why code?

“In a nutshell, learning to code enables pupils to learn the step-by-step commands to make websites, games, and apps. Common coding languages include HTML, Python, CSS and JavaScript: all of which are widespread and versatile.” Why Kiwi kids should learn to code

In the 20th Century, meaningful education was all about learning your ABCs. Today, it's centered on Alphas, Betas and C++. (Why Programming Is The Core Skill Of The 21st Century) and “Coding has been called the "new literacy" because of its role in powering our digital world. Websites, apps, computer programmes and everyday objects like microwaves rely on code to operate.” Cracking the code - schools get kids programming

Coding The same trends are not going unnoticed in New Zealand. There are many programming opportunities where global markets are turning to New Zealand for the solutions. The problem? There just aren’t enough students leaving school with coding or digital literacy skills. NZ is currently short of 10,000 technologists: so let’s teach coding in schools…

There is an increasing recognition that our young people are entering the workforce where nothing is guaranteed, where skills for the 21st Century are vital if they want to be competitive in a rapidly changing job market. “Programming skills are becoming ever more important, quickly turning into the core competency for all kinds of 21st Century workers.” (Why Programming Is The Core Skill Of The 21st Century)

The Ministry of Education recognizes, "A lot's changed in digital technology since the curriculum was introduced so we are addressing that. We're reviewing how we support digital technology in the curriculum," Ms Parata says. Cracking the code - schools get kids programming

CareersNZ indicates the amount of programmers in New Zealand are growing steadily, the job prospects are ‘good’ and for a bonus IT jobs are some of the highest paid in New Zealand.

CareersNZ programming

However, People in jobs not directly linked to computer sciences will still benefit from an understanding of programming and coding.” Cracking the code - schools get kids programming

Check out these cool things you can do with coding https://www.madewithcode.com/projects/

How can we start coding?

So if this is new to you and the teachers in your school, where could you start? This article in the Interface Magazine is well worth a read, If it’s something you’d like to introduce in your classroom, there are plenty of simple and effective ways to do it… then find out more at Meeting the challenge of computer coding.

If you are teaching programming or computer science in your school, what 5 top tips would you offer as a starting point? Feel free to add your ideas to this shared Google presentation here >>>.


You might also be interested in:

Image source: Flickr


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 20 Mar 2017 2:02pm ()

    Simple coding at St Francis School


    Take one principal dedicated to growing digital fluency, one class of year 2’s and 3’s, six Blue-bot robots and some blocks or two. What do you have? One busy room full of chatter, where 6 and 7 years olds are working together to problem solve and write simple code; so their robots can navigate through the mazes. Some designs were elaborate, while others created more of a challenge with low hanging bridges and tunnels to navigate.

    IMG_3955.JPG    IMG_3950.JPG


    I watched as these children planned and talked together (some through conflict resolution), to negotiate how to make their programming work. In the end, they all had the opportunity to critique each other’s work using the language they had learned - like algorithms and programming. Digital literacy at it’s best.


     IMG_3954.JPG   IMG_3953.JPG


    Perhaps this is an easy way to start coding at your school?



    Thank you Geraldine Sumner and the children at St Francis School, Thames.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 29 Nov 2016 9:55am ()

    STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is a multidisciplinary way of looking at curriculum with the understanding these form a sound basis for learning and…with the high-tech era fuelling job growth in STEM areas, more and more, a degree (or equivalent) is seen as the minimum requirement to enter the workforce.” So why the STEM push? 

    Our country (and the world’s) economies revolve around maths - accounting, economics, etc. Advancements and developments in science, technology, and medicine are rapidly evolving, therefore building a solid STEM foundation through a well-rounded curriculum is the best way to ensure that students are exposed to math, science, and technology throughout their educational career. https://teach.com/what/teachers-know/stem-education/

    The Ministry of education is implementing a number of initiatives to help promote STEM subjects in schools (SNUP, N4L, Communities of Learning, A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara) because;

    As demands for innovative thinkers and STEM specialists increase, so does the need for initiatives such as the ones in place already to encourage and support students and educators in these fields. So why the STEM push?

    GirlBossNZ website screenshot So while the Ministry sets about to promote learning through these areas, one motivated, inspirational, Year 13 student from Albany Senior High School, Alexia Hilbertidou has set about to instigate an initiative of her on. GirlBossNZ was founded with one key mission in mind - to inspire, empower and equip New Zealand girls to become the change-makers of the future.

    What these young women have done in the areas of STEM education might just blow you away. Come and find out what innovation looks like when it’s student-driven. REGISTER NOW to meet Alexia and her mum tomorrow in, LIVE WEBINAR: Innovation in your school, 3.45pm, 30 November.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 10 Mar 2016 12:16pm ()

    I love digital technology, but check out this resource from Teaching children to code without screens - that helps our younger learners with coding - using a circuit and wooden block. Very cool.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 02 Mar 2016 8:17pm ()

    Thanks for sharing Charlotte, isn't it interesting how our students can have learned behaviours around being taught a certain way. I can understand to some degree...probably why I like using YouTube clips to teach me new things.

    How's your Hour of Code working out so far?

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 02 Mar 2016 6:02pm ()

    I've just had a watch of this TED talk by Linda Liukas.

    It's about 11 minutes, but an easy watch as she tells great stories about coding and how she has introduced children to code.

    She highlights how the patterns we use when learning languages and learning to knit, for example, are all just examples of coding. We've been doing it all the time.

    She finishes with this quote:

    Programming gives me this amazing power to build my whole little universe with its own rules and paradigms and practices. Create something out of nothing with the pure power of logic.

  • Charlotte Hills (View all users posts) 21 Dec 2015 12:33am ()

    I am about to learn to code so I can teach students in 2016.  

    I did attempt to set up a group using scratch. I thought the kids would be okay to use the guides to teach them, but after a couple of sessions they started dropping off.  When I asked them why they weren't coming, they told me that they wanted me to teach them how to code.

    I will look at the Hour of Code I see above,,, I'm nervous, but know this is important :-)

  • Vicki Hagenaars (View all users posts) 09 Dec 2015 10:16pm ()

    I can add some more to this especially useful for PC users on one front and those using Windows 8 or 10 on another.  Have you heard there is an Hour of Code going on?

    A few years back I was giving Scratch a go as well but needed to pull back a step or two to bring the reluctant ones in.  I stumbled across Microsoft Game Lab's Kodu at about the same time.  In other countries this would allow the students to create a levelled game that could be played on their X-Box.  After creating our first games we discovered this was not so in NZ - the students needed their laptops.  

    The coding itself is exceptionally easy to work with for students.  I, like others have mentioned here, taught myself the basics, found Microsoft's instructional videos and unleashed my class on it.  There was far greater buy in from the students, they loved playing classmate's games and challenging each other to push the boundaries ever further.  There was a core group of boys who were in my room in wet lunch hours, also involved in Minecraft and part of the Wanganui Intermediate medal winning Lego Mindstorms robotics team as well.  

    How did I use it in the classroom?  We created settings for use in descriptive writing, developed characters for the same purpose, explored the sustainability aspect within the game structure, collaborated, trialled, problem solved and communicated in ways I could not have planned for in your average lesson.  

    Kodu also has a much newer and flashier big brother in the form of Project Spark which I have not personally played with nor coded in.  This is available to the students on X-Box so the game they create can be played, added to, changed, and improved.  Any feedback on their game can be given by many players - not just their classmates.

    Like those above I encourage you to give it a try, let go of being the expert and enjoy watching the learning happen around you.  Get involved in the Hour of Code that is taking place this week.  Simple coding, similar to Scratch, broken down into bite sized chunks with how to videos that teach the students as they go.  What do you have to lose but an hour?

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 08 Dec 2015 9:13am ()

    Don't miss out this week. Minecraft joins the hour of code.  https://twitter.com/BillGates  You can find out more in the VLN post @ Hour of Code - Minecraft Tutorial Dec 7-13.

    Bill Gates tweet

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 17 Aug 2015 5:17pm ()

    Are you having fun using gaming in your classroom or getting your students to programme their own games, but want to convince your colleagues to do the same? Check out this latest video from Enabling e-Learning:

    Using games to support learning (TKI link)

    Rachel Bolstad (Senior researcher NZCER) and Dan Milward (CEO Gamelab) talk about the benefits of using games as an environment for learning. They discuss how playing games allows students to build knowledge and create things they’re interested in to see what they can do with it. Dan shares how in a workshop where students are creating games, they’re learning computer programming, the theory of game design, and the subject matter the game is about all at the same time.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 05 Aug 2015 10:07am ()

    Thanks everyone for kick starting this conversation smiley

    I think you’ve summed it up nicely Gerard when you recognise this area is new for most teachers. We certainly don’t have a prescribed curriculum (like overseas) for computer science as such (especially in the primary sector), but I think there is a growing interest in how we can include computational-type skills into our learning programmes.

    Coding Google doc I can understanding your perspective Mrs B30 - how to start out and where to go for support that's relevant to your learners. There’s a huge plethora of tools and information and it’s been invaluable going through the Google doc Gerard shared on, Coding the NZC: What New Zealand Schools are doing to reprogramme their classes? which makes alignments to the Key Competencies and Curriculum levels in a NZ context.

    Urmi, Warren and Katarina, thanks so much for your top tips on software/applications to start out with. TraceyH, your ideas are invaluable too – demonstrating coding as a form of digital literacy. This is cheeky, but it would be great to see some examples or screenshots too. wink 

    Also wondering if anyone has any planning ideas/examples as well? For example, planning links to problem solving in numeracy, literacy (like Tracey’s Little Bo Peep example) or cross-curricula links in Inquiry models perhaps. I’m also wondering if there are secondary teachers who could share their planning/lessons too?

    For example,

    • What did you want the children to learn in coding (instructions, html)?
    • How did/could this relate to authentic learning scenarios (Curriculum)?
    • What kind of programming tools (software, apps, web-based) can enable a rich learning experience to happen?

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