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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 >>>.


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Image source: Flickr


  • 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?

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