Coding in Secondary Schools

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the resources available for primary schools which can help implement the new computer science curriculum and assist in teaching programming to students of key stage one and above.

Over the coming weeks we’ll look more closely at the resources available for secondary schools and the ways in which teachers and students can play active and healthy roles in helping computer science and coding become ingrained, sought after subjects in every school curriculum.

Coding in secondary schools is becoming more and more popular, with students taking a keen interest in programming and developing thanks to the likes of influential computer science figures such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

The following video is an ideal example of how learning code can open up a world of possibilities and can lead to progressive and exciting future careers. There’s snippets from Dropbox founder, Drew Houston, and also from Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve. Beginning with this poignant quote from the late Steve Jobs: “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think,” the video talks about how learning to code isn’t just about being seen as a computer geek, it’s about having the power to create and influence future generations, in all walks of life. It can be used as a great tool for introducing your classes to coding, and for the reluctant students out there, popstar Will.I.Am even makes an appearance.

The successful people that feature in the video went from simple and humble beginnings to steering and leading the way in popular computing methods that can be and are used in every-day life; from social media to classroom interactions. They explain how computing isn’t just useful for the one sector, it can be applied to agriculture, entertainment and manufacturing too, something to consider when trying to engage pupils of secondary school age. 

The video highlights the fact that many computing companies, such as Facebook et al, like to employ the best, most talented engineers in order to use their coding knowledge to build a bigger and better future. Computing companies want to attract young, vibrant new employees, all of whom will be coming up through the ranks of secondary education in the near future. Learning to code is an incredibly empowering skill to have and the video finishes by suggesting that anyone who is interested in furthering their knowledge should take a look at code.org

The website code.org stipulates that, “every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.”

It’s a fabulous resource that is available for students and teachers worldwide and because it is very easy to navigate, is well laid out, has plenty of content for learning online, AND features animated characters from Disney films such as Frozen, AND has the likes of Mark Zuckerberg supporting it, code.org is a great bookmark for computing lessons.

code

Although predominantly US based and tailored for US curriculums, there are plenty of tutorials available that can be used across the board and are easy to translate to the required curriculum specification. It even encourages the Unplugged methods of teaching, as we discussed in a previous article.

There are links to tutorials for beginners; there are ones that teaches JavaScript, and there’s even apps available for phones and tablets. There are courses for university students and there are opportunities to create your own web pages, make your own apps and develop your own games: https://code.org/learn/beyond

 

Hour of Code

Code.org is currently advocating a scheme called ‘Hour of Code’, a global movement that is reaching tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries and will take place over the course of a week in December 2015. It is something the website strongly recommends schools try to take part in and can be registered for and explored more here: https://hourofcode.com/us

With activities that teach you how to write your first computer program using Angry Birds as a template https://studio.code.org/hoc/1, and tutorials that use other programming languages, code.org appears to have all you could need and more. It’s certainly one of the most comprehensive resources I’ve come across while exploring this subject and all that’s required is a simple registration process and login.

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