Newsletters


2016-03-05
Newsletter 29 CODING!


I am visiting school for the past 18 months strongly advising that teachers introduce Computer Coding. Their arguments are that coding is not part of the national curriculum and most have afternoon clubs for robotics where they introduce coding. Teachers are saying that the school computer infrastructure does not have the required memory to do coding.

I AM NOT A COMPUTER FUNDI – BUT THE RESEARCH IS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR, INTRODUCE CODING IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND DO IT NOW!

Anthony Cuthbertson wrote an article “Coding in the Classroom: What is Coding and Why is it so Important?” in August 2014 in the UK. He argues that “One of the biggest overhauls of the national curriculum in 14 years is to come into effect from Monday, 1 September as information and communications technology (ICT) is replaced by a new computer science programme. As part of the new computing curriculum, coding will be taught in primary and secondary schools across England to children between the ages of five and 15.

“What is coding? Coding, in the simplest of terms, is telling a computer what you want it to do, which involves typing in step-by-step commands for the computer to follow. 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.

“Why is coding important? Code powers our digital world. Every website, smartphone app, computer programme, 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.” Cuthbertson 2014.

wwwdailytekk.com explains that “Code is a set of instructions (or rules) that computers can understand; it might be helpful to think of code as a recipe. People write code, code powers computers and computers power many everyday objects like phones, watches, microwaves and cars. In fact, almost anything powered by electricity uses code. There are many names for people who code: coders, programmers, developers, computer scientists, software engineers, etc. Computers run on binary code—written in 1s and 0s—which is very difficult for humans to work with.”

Lynda.com gives us “7 Easy Ways to Learn Coding and Computer Science for Free”

  1. Treehouse gets an A+ for offering users great content wrapped in an amazing user interface. Just as learning is no fun in a drab environment in a physical classroom, so is it no fun in a drab environment online and Treehouse understands this. Treehouse can teach you web design (including HTML5 and CSS3), web development (including Javascript) and even equip you to create iOS apps (using Objective-C and Xcode). Users unlock badges after watching videos and taking tests.
  2. Codecademy describes itself as the easiest way to learn to code and it’s quite popular. At the time of writing, the homepage has been tweeted nearly 60,000 times. Codecademy will give you the knowledge necessary to build great websites, apps and even games and focuses on Javascript. The social aspect of Codecademy is a nice addition as you can learn alongside your friends and even track their progress. Anyone, literally anyone, can do the first basic lesson shown on the homepage. It’s fun and you’ll feel like you’re making quick progress when you earn a new badge in under a minute!
  3. Udacity, led by two professors (one from Stanford and another from the University of Virginia),will teach you how to code in just 7 weeks. By the end of the course you’ll actually be able to build your very own search engine like Google or Yahoo. Python is the programming language used in Udacity’s courses. If you’re interested, sign up quick–courses are not offered in an on-demand format. Instead, classes are offered in a more traditional format, meaning there is a class scheduled every few months.
  4. Mozilla’s School of Webcraft (P2PU) is a part of the Peer 2 Peer University which describes itself this way: At P2PU, people work together to learn a particular topic by completing tasks, assessing individual and group work, and providing constructive feedback. Webcraft challenges include Python, HTML5, Javascript and Django to name a few. The Webmaking 101 challenge will help you learn basic HTML and create your first website from scratch.
  5. MIT Computer Science Video Lectures - MIT is among a handful of schools (including Stanford) who are posting introductory computer science lectures online for free. The first video in the series introduces learners to data types, operators and variables and has been viewed over 800,000 times at the time of writing. This particular course is taught by professors Eric Grimson and John Guttag. Khan Academy Khan Academy, the fabulously popular learning resource that has attracted praise from big names like Bill Gates, allows people to “learn almost anything for free”. The site makes an appearance on this list for a good reason: it has a robust section on computer science. Python is Khan Academy’s language of choice and you’ll learn about functions, loops and strings among other algorithms.
  6. Google Code University offers a wide variety of written courses from programming languages (including Python, C++, Java and AJAX) to Android Development. There’s no registration required and professors can even submit courses to gain a larger audience. The site lacks the panache displayed by Treehouse and Codecademy listed above, but for people who prefer written content over videos and interactive lessons, Google Code University is definitely worth a look.
  7. Bonus: Code School Just for good measure, I’m including a premium offering by the name of Code School. While it’s not free, it’s worth a mention in this post because it seems to be a very solid and polished product. Code School’s approach is “learning by doing through interactive video and coding in the browser”. For a very reasonable individual monthly membership fee of $25, learners gain access to all of Code School’s content. Businesses can even enroll entire teams–and they have. Some businesses that have used Code School include AT&T, IBM and NASA to name a few.
  8. Bonus 2: Udemy Udemy has over 4 million students, 20,000 courses and 10,000 instructors! From the complete beginners guide to C# to the ultimate Python programming tutorial to how to make $2,500 a month with game apps and no coding, there’s plenty for programmers to be to learn. There are over 50 free programming courses on Udemy with many others coming in at under $100. Courses range from beginner to intermediate to advance.