What is coding?
Coding is simply telling a computer what you want it to do, which involves typing in step by-step commands for the computer to follow or dragging blocks of code into a sequence.
Computers are not clever things, however they are very obedient. They will do exactly what you want them to do, so long as you tell them how to do it correctly.
Learning to code has been likened to learning a foreign language, or perhaps more specifically a family of foreign languages.
There are many different coding languages, each one designed with certain things in mind.
Children begin to learn to code with ‘block coding’. This is where they use a web – based program like Scratch (http://www.scratch.com) to give the computer instructions. Scratch is a game or animation focused coding system that allows children to develop their own animations or games.
Other coding languages that children use once they have an understanding of Scratch include Python (https://www.python.org/) and HTML. These are more complex language based systems.
Why is coding important?
It’s not just enough for children to know how to use technology and enjoy it. We want kids to understand how to create with technology- not just interact with it.
Learning to program computers is an important skill now we’re living in a digital age. Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer; it strengthens problem solving skills and logical thinking, and supports key academic subjects such as science, maths and technology. Programming is an incredible skill that engages both our creative and our problem solving sides.
Code powers our digital world. Every website, smartphone app, computer program, calculator and even microwave relies on code in order to operate. This makes coders the architects and builders of the digital age.
Over the next 10 years it is estimated that there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer sciences and only around 400,000 graduates qualified to do them.
Jobs not directly linked to computer sciences – such as banking, medicine and journalism – will also be affected by the need for at least an understanding of programming and coding.
Linda Liukas, co-founder of coding workshop programme Rail Girls, believes that coding is “the literacy of the 21st century” and the need for people to speak the ABC of programming is imminent.
“Our world is increasingly run by software and we need more diversity in the people who are building it. More importantly, writing software is about expression, creativity – and practical application,” Liukas told IBTimes UK.
“Our kids should learn to bend, join, break and combine code in a way it wasn’t designed to. It’s a whole generation of kids that will use code like our generation used words.”
Resources to get started:
Scratch – Scratch is a web-based block coding program. This is an excellent online environment where coders can follow each other, rework code, create their own animations and games and watch tutorials.
Code Club Australia – This is a great place to start to find out about coding and how to get kids coding.
Code Club World – This is a great place for tutorials and step-by-step advice on coding using Scratch, Python and HTML/CSS
Belair Code Club in Action
Term 3 2016
Cuthbertson, A (2014). Coding in the Classroom: What is coding and why is it important? International Business Times. Retrieved from: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/coding-classroom-what-coding-why-it-so-important-1463157
Tagalan, K. (2016) Code Club Australia: #GetKidsCoding. Retrieved from: https://codeclubau.org/