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The FAQ's of Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the classroom.

Computer programming has become extremely popular and has been on the rise for decades. It's no wonder it's gaining such popularity with hit TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, which target America's youth. Most educators who do not have experience with computer programming, though, are left wondering how they can bring this high-tech activity into their classroom. Read on to get the answers to the frequently asked questions about computer coding.

What exactly is computer coding?

Coding is telling a computer what you want it to do. Step-by-step commands need to be typed for the computer to follow. Some compare learning coding to learning a different language. It's sometimes an unfamiliar, uncomfortable process, but the more practice and exposure you get, the better!

Computers run on different languages in the technology world. Terms like "C," "Javascript," and "Perl" are used to describe some different coding "languages." Each coding language has its own unique purpose. "C" is used in games; Javascript is used in web content; and, Perl is a multifunctional language that can do a large variety of programming tasks. It has multiple purposes.

Why do students need to learn to code?

Codes are what provide power to the digital word. Everything nowadays relies on a code to operate. Websites, apps, computers, calculators, phones, and even microwaves are all programmed by codes.

Students need to learn how to code because it has been reported that, in the future, there will be approximately 1.5 million jobs available in the computer science field. There will be about only 500,000 graduates, however, to fill those jobs. Even jobs that have a slight connection to computer science, such as medicine, banking, business, and journalism will be affected. Individuals in those fields will need to have a basic understanding of coding and programming to perform successfully.

Are most students learning how to code in the classroom now?

Many parents are concerned that their child is falling behind if their school does not offering coding. Believe it or not, about 90% of schools in America do not offer coding. Why? Simply put, the schools lack resources. Most teachers also lack confidence and need to be trained to teach others.

How can a teacher self-teach code?

There are numerous resources online that will train teachers so they can feel confident enough to teach their students. One great user-friendly (and non-threatening) site is www.code.org.

The site invites students, teachers, parents, and administrators to explore online code studios and sign up for workshops. There is also a tab that educators can click on to learn how their school district can apply for a grant to make coding a reality for students of all ages.

Teacher Tube is also a favorite resource of educators and it allows teachers to search for "how to code in the classroom." It provides them with easy-to-understand videos and guides them toward other helpful resources, as well.

How can students practice coding at home if they show an interest in it at school?

There are actually many user-friendly sites designed for a variety of age levels of students. Sites like scratch.mit.edu (designed for K-5 students) and vizwik.com (grades 6-12) provide self-directed learning tools. The students can play games and learn on their own, without any pressure or assessment. The sites provide lots of guidance and encouragement, while students find solutions to problems presented. Both sites are free to use and run in a web browser; so they don't require a special program to be installed. While they may not become coding experts, at least they will gain some exposure to the skill and gain some background knowledge about the topic.

How can computer coding change the way a child thinks?

Coding is synonymous with computational thinking. It has been shown that coding has some psychological benefits on the brain because it helps improve cognitive function. Students have a better ability to think abstractly and it improves their creativity. They increase their problem solving skills and become better communicators because they are forced to use logical reasoning. These positive traits can be observed across the curriculum and not just in computer class.

The importance of computer knowledge has impacted the world. The bottom line is that all schools should prepare to learn about computer coding and need to be ready to provide training so teachers can help students keep up with the demand for skilled workers in today's technological society.

Sources:

http://www.gettingsmart.com

http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/03/teaching-computer-coding-in-k-12/

https://vizwik.com/blog/5-myths-of-coding-in-the-classroom/

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