Computer coding (programming) has become a hot topic for parents wanting to ensure their children get the best education and are prepared for the workforce as they grow into adolescents, but just what is coding? Coding is simply the language of computers. It is the way humans interact with their technology.
Connecting to students
Coding is an often confused or misunderstood concept - the term simply encapsulates the different languages that computer scientists and programmers use to make computer software. All software, including websites, apps, video games and social media platforms are assembled entirely by lines of code. To learn coding, basically, is to learn a new language. This language has specific and restrictive constraints and gives little to no margin for error in communication. As similar to all spoken and written languages it is essential for correct spelling, spacing and punctuation to be used for them to work and have use.
More and more, students are needing to acquire a deeper level of understanding and commandment of their tools. Coding is no longer a luxury for the STEM elite. It is now a necessity in today and tomorrow's world for students to flourish in their educational processes. Learning this language of coding is now vital to students long term success as we see the proliferation of computer systems and technological integration into all industries and places of employment.
How to incorporate it into the school system
Some high schools have begun to offer programming courses as electives, but that is largely still a rarity. In Australia, we are now seeing primary schools introduce coding into the curriculum and regular lessons as seen by Oak Flats Public School, with Mt. Brown, Balgownie and Albion Park Rail Public Schools introducing coding in 2016. Students from Year 1 through to Year 6 are in their beginning stages of learning the fundamentals behind coding, the methodical approach of segmented problem solving. Over the course of several terms they will progress to writing actual code which can be applied to all subjects. Integration with mathematics and sciences can be easily achieved utilising algorithms and calculations to solve problems, however, with some creativity coding can be utilised to teach other subjects like creative arts and English.
There are many avenues for students to learn to code however this is the easier part of the process. It is the integration and incorporation of coding into their existing learning that is essential. The development of the skill is insular to their existing subjects then it has brought little benefits to their education. So how can coding be incorporated into their subjects?
Integration with existing subjects can be easily achieved by using coding applications, be it software or a website, as a platform for the production of project based assessments. As we have seen the progressive shift from presenting on differing mediums towards an electronic format, coding allows the students to take their creativity one step further by giving them a truly expressive, open format to deliver their material
Benefits to Students
The benefits that coding provides to students is immense. Coding is about problem solving, computational thinking and promotes and nurtures imagination and creativity. It requires clear definitions of the problem and uses absolute logic to formulate and reach the solution. Process based, algorithmic thinking like this is a supremely beneficial skill for all students, allowing them to carefully plan and strategise solutions in any subject or indeed, any obstacle in life. By breaking down problems, step by step, or line by line as with code, students are encouraged to see problems not as an insurmountable whole, but as a series of segmented achievable tasks.
Students also find computer science with a high level of or interest in learning and attention to the subject is often much higher than standard lessons. The level of engagement is very apparent with students often diving much deeper into their understanding of a topic by way of sheer time and effort spent learning via a process that is now natural to them.
ScopeIT Education In Local Wollongong/Illawarra Region Schools
* This is an extract and amendment of a previously published article in the Education Review School Journal
Frank Lucisano left his voluntary position as a Teaching Assistant with the University of Illinois and is the founder of the new in-school service ScopeIT Education found at www.scopeITeducation.com.au
C.I.Y Club - Code It Yourself Club are running 3 camps these Christmas School Holidays at the University of Wollongong from 9am-3pm 21 December 2015 - 20 January 2016 for 7-18 years of age. Code It Yourself Club is an after-school, weekend and holiday club where school aged kids can come together and learn to be creators of technology.