Students Are Ready to Crack Code

Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube… The list of digital tools and interactions your students are accessing is ever growing. They are the ‘digital native’ generation. These kids might know how to use all of these different platforms, but do they know what goes on under the hood?Digital literacy has gone beyond the user phase. Kids need to know how to write code to be truly effective digital citizens of the future. Already the job market is heavily based in the digital world, and to compete now, and in the future, understanding computer code is a major advantage.The prospect of teaching kids how to code freaks teachers out. Particularly primary school teachers, many of whom have been working flat out to keep abreast of how to use the software and hardware that has been rapidly appearing in their classrooms. The new Australian national curriculum indicates that computer coding should now to be taught from age 5. It’s time to take the plunge!

But coding? Don’t you need to be an engineer or something to do that? Isn’t that something you learn in a computer science degree?It’s time that coding is de-mystified for non-tech educators. Simple coding skills are now readily accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Teachers, like with many subject areas they teach, no longer need to be an expert to teach coding. They can access online programs and tutorials and facilitate their students to learn from them, and guide them on how they might apply their new skills.Codecademy is a great example of a free resource for students and teachers to learn coding. From basic HTML to CSS and JavaScript. Already professionals are using these tutorials to expand their own skills and broaden their career prospects. Jobs requiring coding skills and understanding pay well and are hard to staff. A computer science degree is no longer necessary, just practice and skill development.

Kids will love the problem solving element of coding. Get them building simple games, blogs and websites, harness their Minecraft obsession by coding add ons for the game. I dare say that teachers taking the plunge into this new world of technology teaching will find it stimulating, and the possibilities for extension and development are huge.To be literate in the 21st century requires more than reading and writing. Digital literacy is the driver of industry, and the sooner kids learn, the more opportunities they will embrace.

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