Week One

The Introduction

Digital Literacy plays a big impact on our children’s lives, smart phones, internet, Kindles, tablets and more are being used to socialise, educate and entertain. Research suggests that there is a shortage in computer programmers and that there may be an even bigger shortage by 2020. Is the computer programming occupation seen as a geeky job rather that a potential to earn a great income? More and more people are taking on the trend of smart phones and tablets; this means that there is a greater demand for software and applications that make life easier for the everyday person.  I don’t know anyone in my circle of friends or family that personally don’t own a PC, Tablet or Smart Phone! They either have one or all.

My purpose to introducing the ‘After School Programming’ Club to students was to introduce them to the coding world, push them to learn something different.  I wanted to provide them with the skills necessary to become proficient programmers and problem solvers.

To start the course I have provided students with some resources to get them started and help consolidate learning.  Codecademy is an excellent resource for teaching people the world of coding. It provides clear instructions, great examples and it has a quirky and entertaining style of teaching. Students earn points and badges which again lends itself as a great extrinsic motivation tool to encourage them to participate and stay on task (not that it is overly difficult to keep kids on task when using computers). Codecademy is free and can be used by anyone at almost any age (they suggest 7 and up). I will be using Codecademy to help students consolidate their learning and continue practising at home.

Another resource that I wanted students to register to was Edmodo. Edmodo is a safe and secure learning environment for students and teachers to collaborate and share resources. Best of all, it has been designed with a similar look and feel to Facebook – therefore the kids are already well acquainted with the user interface (UI). Teachers can moderate the comments and approve or decline them before they are posted on the wall, or you can leave it open for all to go crazy and blog away (depends on the maturity of your students). I chose to use this as a way to communicate with the ‘After School Programming group as it enabled me to send resources, links and information regarding the forever changing technological world. Yet again, this great resource is free!

My first meeting with the students was held during lunch time at the school’s library. I opened the invitation to Years 8-12 as they all had laptops (1-to-1 notebook school). The introduction allowed me to gauge the student’s prior knowledge and to gain a better understanding of what they wanted from the course. To my surprise, not many of the students had any real prior experience in programming (phew!). Therefore, I explained that for the first part of the course they will be learning HTML/HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. I also elaborated that I wouldn’t just simply be writing code and having them copy from the screen, I wanted them to understand why they were writing particular codes and understand the meaning and history of programming.

In conclusion, the first meeting was a success! I have 14 students from Years 7 -11 who have decided to participate and a very keen to get started.  Stay tuned for the next lesson!


Suggested Resources

Next Week’s Blog

  • Introducing and registering to Codecademy

  • What is HTML, CSS & JavaScript?

  • Installing and Using Komodo Text Edit

  • Installing Firefox & Safari

  • Creating their first HTML webpage

Stewart Crainie

iSmart/ ICT Integrator