Benefits of coding

That cartoon came up on my Facebook again this morning, endorsed by a teacher. We live in the digital age and we can be victims of it and put ourselves in the position of being constantly rescued or told, or we can take control of it and have some input, some capacity to see what is happening and have sufficient knowledge to be able to manage what happens with devices and computers. I am not a big coder but I know enough to know when to alert sites, to know how to discuss technical problems and to negotiate improvements. I know when to be concerned or not when something goes wrong and I know how to customise some things when I want to and it’s possible. Knowing code puts you in the driver’s seat. You make better choices. Coding is cardio for you brain and The Smart Girl Workout explains it well. The article on the Benefits of Coding explains why it is good for anyone to learn how to code and then provides a number of links to support the arguments. It covers a number of different benefits including sustainablity. Douglas Rushkoff, in the video, has looked at our digital world from all angles and has widely shared his ideas. He analyses and questions our digital world  in a comprehensive way. Rex Salisbury looks at the benefits of immersive learning at coding bootcamps where you are in an intensive learning situation and come out of it with a strong sense of achievement and knowledge. For some that would be a better way of going about it rather than being drip fed. Immersive learning cannot be sustained because it’s exhausting and demanding but it’s a great way to get a head start into the ongoing brain cardio work of coding.

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Learn coding

vivaLucci is straight to the point and explains clearly how to go about learning code. Code is problem solving. Get a good project and learn to code. Get a reason to code and learn to code. Start with one code and dedicate yourself to that learning and you’ll find a lot of the knowledge and approaches are transferable. I started coding because I was there when Commodore 64s came on to the market as the first home computers. They were clever but to get the best out of them you had to code. The manual came with some codes to learn and I built on that. The school I was in introduced BBC computers which could run some software but we had nothing for languages. I used my Commodore 64 language, borrowed books on BBC computers and learned to write scripts to run programmes to teach languages. I was coding the images, the sequence of events and then collaborating with interested students to develop those programmes further. That’s a point vivaLucci makes. Coding gets you collaborating and collaborating improves your coding. Students couldn’t write the scripts I was writing but they could add to them. We were a mini coding team and grew our knowledge by helping each other. We had a purpose. We were trying to make cool things for the class to use in the computer lab. I have grown from that point and add to it when I want to. Forbes has a good article as to why students should learn coding :

“It also has the potential to bring about a fundamental shift in the way we view technology, turning us from passive consumers into active producers. “There is a massive difference between consuming content and being able to create it,” Sutcliffe adds. “It is important to have agency over the tools you are using.””

Entrepreneur has some good sites to help anyone learn coding. There is so much free material to help you learn and you can go back to it and learn some more when you are ready. Lifehacker has some good recommendations for apps and sites for children to learn coding. For children to learn coding adults have to know what to safely recommend and have a degree of comfort with the software and apps and teachers need some good training which enables them to feel at ease with coding and see the purpose of it:

“But if coding is to become embedded in schools it is going to take a massive effort in terms of teacher-training. Kirsop attests to the shortage of time lack spent on programming skills on her own training course. “There is a long way to go before teachers feel confident enough to teach these skills,” she says.”

Teach kids how to code and you give them a skill for life

Why teach coding?

teach coding

 

This image was doing the rounds on the net earlier on the week and it was surprising how many teachers supported it. That said a lot. It means they do not feel comfortable with coding. Teaching code does not in any way mean that you ignore or replace other curriculum content, personal and social capabilities or wellbeing. As one of the people says in the video if you want to make money or you want to change the world then you need to learn coding. Coding is everywhere and in every part of our life. Healthcare is one of the biggest growth areas for IT development skills and programming skills. Coding is saving lives but we don’t currently have the source code to save the planet. Something to work on.

Kodables has a really good infographic as to why we should teach coding but it supports that with some very helpful downloadable materials to teach it. coding skillsEducational Technology and Mobile Learning

why learn coding

Why learn coding?

has looked at the skills students learn from coding . The video explains it all well, though, and teachers need to be able to find a level of comfort with teaching coding. That cartoon could not have been broadcast and shared on the internet without coding. Researchers collaborate across the planet to solve problems and develop ideas. All of that requires coding. Someone else in the video said that if someone had told her that software was about humanity she would have been able to approach coding in a better way earlier in her life.

coding joke

Coder blogs

I really like this video by Chris Hawkes. He is a competent , successful coder who has taken time out of his busy schedule to take us on a walk and discuss his ideas about what he thinks the fundamental issues are with regard to contemporary coding . We can walk with him and listen to him unfold his thinking. Coding requires a very disciplined mind and thinking but it also requires a capacity to keep up to date. Chris Hawkes puts forward a very strong case for coders to be able to be efficient and capable researchers who share and discuss their knowledge. We no longer have the answers, the way, the method, the procedure. We live in 2016. We can’t just use Google a quick solution to something. We can’t spend our time reinventing the wheel . We need to have people who know how to get quality information which will move  a project and thinking forward. People need skillsets and knowledge but they need to be able to quickly update their capacity to function now, today. Coders have communities to build their skills and knowledge. They learn to connect , share and problem solve. Nobody can know everything any more and one thing will suddenly become obsolete. Programmers need to be able to learn on their own and they need to now how to do quality research and find things out. They need to be interested, self directed and lifelong learners. Communities develop best practices and share their updated knowledge and tackle trouble shooting and problem solving . It takes teamwork to solve complex problems. Coders are sharing their knowledge in lots of ways. Huffington Post published 25 best coder blogs. Makeuseof has recommended 7 coder blogs for student programmers. One of my favourite coder blogs is codercoach because Kristi Pollard (Stanton), RHIT, CCS, CPC, CIRCC gives such a personal insight into coding , the life of a coder and issues with coding.

Codr.tv

codr.tv

Image: Codr.tv

One of the advantages of Twitter is that others can introduce themselves to you easily. @codrtv did that just the other day and I have to say I am very appreciative. This site is real coders talking about real code but they want you to love it and understand it as much as they do. It is also a very real way of using the internet to reach out to others and make themselves known.  Currently they are working on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coders and the first episode is about pairing. That has such educational relevance for both teachers and students and a paradigm I have pushed on this blog. It is important to get peer review. It is important to do and share. It is important to throw your ideas and work out there and see what others think. In the end you become far more confident, competent and able to learn more effectively because the constant feedback keeps you thinking and in improvement mode. It also increases your network and so you have more resources to sustain you. My group assessment rubrics were exactly about that. Blogging and being on Twitter is always about that. This video frequently makes the point that you can be collaborating on code and embracing peer review but here are times where you just have to shut down and go into your own space and do it your own way. That is true too. There are times for learning by yourself and times for sharing and collaborating. The video also makes the point more than once that if you work collaboratively you are going to produce something far superior and more accurate than if you just work alone. Coders are working internationally because it’s about something which is high level and you work with whom you trust, who is at your level and who can help you. Codr.tv is not just about the code. It shows how coders work, think and how they approach a highly demanding task. As such it is very valuable insight into how you manage something which is very demanding learning and high level performance: the standard internet learning loop – create content, share, get feedback and improve. By having codr.tv we are now included in the loop.

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