Next year the new Australian Curriculum includes more digital technology knowledge & skills. We have also heard a lot about the push to teach code from Prep to Year 10 from our Government. I am excited about how the Australian Government has finally realised the importance of digital technology understanding & creation for our youth. Other countries around the world have already been doing this, such as the UK, Estonia & Israel. However, how this will work exactly in the realities of our school systems will be interesting! There are many teachers worried about how they will learn how to code for themselves first before they even consider integrating it into their subjects. What if these teachers can’t code? Or simply don’t like code? Forcing them to teach code might result in kids that can’t code and don’t like to code too! Will teachers resort to simply using fun online coding games and apps only, without any real teaching of programming concepts? When teachers do this what might they be giving-up in their already over-crowded curriculum teaching?
What do we do with the kids that are simply not good-at or not interested-in coding? I taught a very small Year 7 academic digital technology class this year (a total of 2 students!); one student LOVED coding and wanted to do it all the time, while the other student preferred creating websites using Dreamweaver and Edublogs. Both boys were brilliant in my opinion, they were just interested in different types of technology and different types of digital creations. A teacher noted on a Facebook forum today that the push for coding is an over-simplification of what the new digital technology curriculum is all about; it is a simple banner for the Government to focus on & citizens to understand. I hope that this push for coding doesn’t push some kids away from digital technology altogether, especially if they might have an interest in other technology areas other than coding.
I have a background in IT and I love to teach people how to code. I get a kick out of teaching kids and teens how to code. I also enjoyed teaching coding, especially Java programming, at the tertiary level. However, teaching kids is really special because they get excited and it is very obvious when they have learned something new. I hope that all teachers will enjoy coding, have the time to learn it and are then able to teach it in a fascinating & fun way.
For me, digital technology and coding is something I enjoy & I give my own kids as much opportunities to “play around with” as possible.
Some of the non-classroom teaching I have done with kids & teens
Presenting Python coding to Grade 6 students to help promote the academic excellence program at a State High School.
Some cool coding & digital stuff I have done at home with my own kids:
Coding Minecraft Mods using Java in NetBeans (blog post in the works!)
Python IDLE & App Inventor (blog post in the works!)
— Elke Schneider (@elketeaches) October 31, 2015