I went to a school seminar about kids’ coding and my goodness, I don’t know whether I want to laugh or cry! It’s definitely exciting, but the terrifying thing for me is how our generation of children have been born with an iPhone in their hand. For them, this is all going to be second nature, and for me, hearing about coding for kids, I feel like a bit of a dinosaur, but an excited one at that!
Blue Shift Coding are doing a really informative Q&A with us, which will be up soon, but in essence, today I learnt that computer coding is all about looking under the hood of a computer. We need to inspire our children, not just to play games and apps, but to make their own. “Scratch” is where to start, it’s a free programming language and online community where your children can create their own stories, games and animations.
It teaches children to be creative, and start problem solving. Computing at school has changed over the last few years, and is no longer ICT, the government is calling it ‘Computing at School’ this is where our children will find solutions to problems and find various algorithms as their recipes. Are you lost yet?
Blue Shift told me to think about a rainbow cake, something I love eating, but not making. Think about the layering elements, and how you can make things more complicated with each level you add. The languages when it comes to computer coding are ones like Python and Java, but the beauty of Scratch for computer coding for kids is appealing because it’s block based, it has characters and it’s easy to learn, with its drag drop system. It is similar to the likes of Java etc, but more simplified. She told us about software and hardware, and the brain being the processor. She talked of the internet being a serious of cables and roads, which allow the movement of data. Then she talked about the web, which is simply a collection of pages. There are different ways of communicating on the web and different ways of sending info back and forth form the different devices we use. The servers, the databases, and importantly, our privacy settings.
The gateway to all of this starts with the service provider. For more parents, screen time is a hot topic, and a scary one at that, but we need to start looking at the nature of screen time, which there are four main types of, not just being passive, and communicative, but also being creative.
On the national curriculum I was told that by the age of 7 the children should be able to create and debug a simple programme, by 11, stimulate and control systems, and by 14, code competently in a text base. This will make the children of today active creators. They must learn the basics first, but will also go on to robotics. They will be taught there are multiple solutions to each problem allowing individual children to come up with their own solutions. We asked where to start, and how to start, and that will come in the interview soon to be published, but simplified, if you can start with Scratch, you’re half way there, then yo’ll move on to touch typing and the web, then python, java and C++ which are all languages they will learn.
Scratch also deals with music and simple robots, it basically makes coding cool. They’ll talk about mBots, but going back to basics, let’s just start with Scratch.
In a recent New York Times piece, it revealed that Microsoft had acquired Minecraft.Edu, a modified version of the Minecraft tailored for the use in schools, which might show you which direction this is all heading. I hope I haven’t confused things more by this piece, I just wanted to share what I’ve heard this morning.