Coding Classes Expand Internationally – Is the US Next?

 

In Canada, computer programming classes are becoming a growing trend within elementary and secondary schools as children are being taught the basics of computer programming and language. Leroy Vincent, a technology and art specialist at the River Valley Middle School in Grand Bay-Westfield, believes that since computers and technology are becoming so prevalent in our day to day lives, children should understand more about how they work and how they are programmed.

Vincent wants to bring computer coding classes to all 340 sixth through eighth graders, reports The Canadian Press. The new push for more technology will be featured in an upcoming documentary called Code Kids.

“Everything in the world now is computers and everything is programming. I’m not saying every kid is going to be a programmer, don’t get me wrong, but every kid has got to be exposed to it,” says Vincent.

Since real computer coding is far beyond the intellect of most youngsters, Vincent has taught his pupils a coding language called Scratch, which was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scratch creates an interactive world which includes stories and games. It also has a student friendly drag-and-drop interface that makes coding easier to master.

Another program gaining traction in Canada is TechU.me. It joins 10th-grade students with third-grade children in an endeavor to have them master the art of coding. The children decide on an app idea that coincides with  a subject that they are learning about in class. The 10th-grade students then make and create the app for it. It is a very basic app, but the achievement is there. The program started in four schools and is now being practiced on some 55 campuses.

“The apps are basic but what we like to say is that the app is not the end goal, it’s the process of creating the app that really is the biggest lesson for the students involved,” says program manager Maria Smirnoff.

In Hong Kong, Michelle Sun has started a computer coding school called the First Code Academy, writes Lorraine Luk for the Wall Street Journal. Sun believes that coding is a wonderful way to get students to think critically and outside of the box. Requiring students step back from their computer, do fun activities, play games and brainstorm helps them to stay focused and clear. The First Code Academy encourages logic and critical thinking via having students draw out their ideas on a whiteboard and prototyping their app concepts on paper.

The United States is also getting on the coding classes bandwagon, writes Matt Richtel for the New York Times. Twenty thousand instructors in elementary and secondary schools have started teaching coding classes as of December 2013. New York City and Chicago have agreed to start coding classes in their schools this fall.