Here it is that time of year again: The week in which the worldwide Hour of Code initiative (sponsored by Code.org and Computer Education Science Week), is being held to introduce computer programming to 10 million students and most importantly, to hopefully encourage them to pursue further knowledge in this area—a field that is projected to have 1,000,000 more jobs than there are students to fill them by the year 2020! Seriously!
My rationale for participating in this event? Besides the fact that students can hone computational thinking (problem decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking and automation) and programming concepts (repetition, conditional logic, computer drawing, handling keyboard input and creating apps), those who have the knack and/or desire to choose a career in this market are going to be able to pretty much name their job and even their salary.
In addition, not only does coding help students learn problem solving and creative thinking skills, it teaches them to be risk-takers, persistent and to persevere in the face of frustration—skills that are relevant in all sorts of other activities in both school and the “real world”. Furthermore, even if students do not wish to become die hard computer scientists for a living, they can become adept at developing games and apps by starting with some of the basics. Wouldn’t it be super cool to find one of their creations in the iTunes Store someday? I mean, do you even need any more of a reason to provide this opportunity for your students?
So, why just use technology, when you can build it, right? That was my line when I began discussing the importance of acquiring basic html or java skills with students as we kicked off the Hour of Code in our district this morning. Unfortunately, most of the 86 students I met with already today had no clue that they could easily learn and utilize basic programming concepts in every day life—for a job or for fun. But the good news is this: The flame in some of them has been ignited—including a few of them whose mugshot I included to the left. ♥
Need some resources? Besides Code.org, the following sites are also curriculum providers for the Hour of Code: Tynker, Khan Academy, Codecademy and Code Avengers—all of which I will be utilizing throughout my coding adventure this week. Can’t find what you want or need? Just Google the Hour of Code. You’ll find more info than you’ll even know what to do with!
The founders of Google, Microsoft and Facebook all started their journeys with just one line of code. Like these successful entrepreneurs, our students should have the opportunity to create the technology of the future, not just use it! That said, join over 54.7 million students in classrooms spanning the globe as they venture into the language of computer programming by participating in the Hour of Code.
And by the way—I realize that coding sounds intimidating to some, but the activities on the sites mentioned above literally require no computer programming skills at all. If your students can type, they can code! And you know what? You can even learn, too!