I must apologize that I could not screencast for this blog. The mic on my Mac is broken and for some reason screencast would not cooperate with my headphone mic. If anyone has details on how to combat this please comment below!
I learned about coding when I was thirteen years old, although I didn’t identify it as such. At the time, the social media hype in Alberta involved a web page called Nexopia. On this page, you could type in codes to create your profile appearance. As a thirteen-year-old, I wanted nothing more than to have fancy font and glitter pictures to flash on my homepage for everyone to see.
I was completely fascinated by the power of coding. Typing words and brackets to create images and fancy letters? That’s almost as perplexing as the idea of speaking into a phone in Canada and someone hearing you in Austrailia.
My days of code retired once Facebook was created. Unfortunately, that social media platform does not have a place where you can code and create a custom profile. But then… we were assigned to learn about coding in ECMP 355. Honestly, I’m amped up about re-learning to code. I remember in my teen years coding so fast. I can hardly fathom working that fast now. It has crossed my mind to take on coding as my second learning project after learning ASL.
I experimented with multiple modes of coding to get a feel for all the options out there:
What I love about Code Academy:
I found this web page was easy to navigate in general. When I learn something new, it is important for me to understand the WHY of it. Not only does this give you step by step practice in coding, it explains why you type each code or what the words and symbols mean in that particular code. I also like that you can do a quiz on your knowledge acquisition from the units as you go. Finally, the best part of it all is the “I can statements”. How cool is that? They aren’t even working the SK curriculum and they have the I can statements figured out!
What could be improved:
I would say Code Academy is geared towards an older audience. For this purpose, it is close to perfection. However, the language used can be too complex and advanced for a young learner possibly even high school aged. This would be a great tool if there was a modified version for younger years. Something as simple as the layout or word choice.
Direct link to my first Scratch project: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/166622409/
What I loved about Scratch:
This is a kid friendly and engaging way for students to experiment with coding. I had fun creating my little cartoon. There are endless options for themes, characters, and items to choose from. There is something for everyone to code about via Scratch which is basically a gold mine for me as an educator of diverse minds.
I see Scratch as an opportunity for students to demonstrate learning through coding whether it be directly related to coding or a cross-curricular project using code and information from another topic. i.e. playing an instrument using recordings, images, etc. and importing it into the code box.
What I loved about Learn:
Learn is a branch off of code.org just like Scratch. Through Learn, students can practice code for one hour a day that is split up into 20 segments. This is a great way to get students interested in coding. They use cartoons and media geared towards students specifically which promote high engagement.
I could see this as a useful downtime activity for students to work on if they find they have finished their work early in class. In order for it to be purposeful for learning, I would have students document their progress every time they practice coding i.e. having a progress duo tang or folder where they screen shot progress and reflect on the learning.
What could be improved:
The only thing that I don’t quite get yet about Learn is how much it really teaches kids to code. Below you can see the different puzzle pieces that the student must attempt to put together in the proper sequence to achieve the task:
I would say that this is a very basic introduction to coding. Although there is a section where you can view the actual coding used to create the movements and images, these codes seem less articulate than the codes I was learning about in Code Academy or Scratch.
Coding is definitely something I see as useful in the classroom. For the older years, This would fit great in a business class or some kind of technology course. There are many jobs in the tech area and it’s only going to get bigger as tech advances in our society.
For the younger years, the current curriculum would suit a literacy area or math. For example, the coding games on learn deal with turns, lines, and angles, etc. (Math). While the codes themself require some literacy skills.
I remember how much I enjoyed coding as a teenager. If I had known there was a career path you could take with coding I may have pursued it!