Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bringing Computer Coding and Programming Classes into Schools

By Sean Scarpiello

As technology continues to become more advanced and cutting edge technology makes it onto the market each day, there has been some technology which has inevitably made it into schools. However, bringing technology into the classroom in the form of laptops or tablets is simply not enough. Some educational professionals are pushing to get schools to include computer science as part of their curriculum. While this may sound like a crazy idea, I think schools will eventually begin offering classes on coding and programming. Every day, we use computers, cell phones, apps, and tablets yet the overwhelming majority of us are completely unaware of how they work. Further, there are other classes, such as cursive and even spelling, which can be phased out as technology increasingly works its way into our lives.

Education has always focused on keeping students informed on the unknown and mysterious world around us. From early on in our science education, we learned why water freezes, how seasons change, and what the earth looks like from space. However, as technology becomes more advanced, it continues to be shrouded in mystery for many students and teachers. We continue to use this technology for work, utility, and fun, yet we still have no idea how an app works or how computer programs are designed to help us accomplish many feats in all fields of study. Therefore, much like simple science was once as mystery to everyone as children, it is imperative that classes on computer coding and programming are implemented in schools.

While this may seem as a huge undertaking, teaching students about designing software does not have to be difficult. I have already seen online platforms that schools can use to teach students some of the basics (such as Tynker, which I wrote about here). These platforms are available to students in second grade and up. Beyond this, schools can even start up their own computer science classes where teachers instruct in basic coding and programming. This would not be extremely difficult, as students will be excited to use computers and the use of this technology allows educators to walk students through the lesson step by step. Computer science classes can even be used to replace cursive and other similar types of classes which are becoming obsolete with the rise of technology. Even classes on typing could be used as an opportunity to teach students how to learn to type computer programs instead of the usual nonsense and repetitive words in class. Even more beneficial would be that students can instantly learn and apply their programming knowledge to make their own simple games, apps, and computer programs. Classes can spark their interest in STEM related fields and students can begin to work on their own independent projects outside of school. This would be especially beneficial to society as more and more technology is being released to the public each day. Further, the countries that are pumping out this technology will no doubt have an advantage in all other areas of scientific research and medicine.

In all, computer science classes would be simple and easy to implement in grade schools and up through college. Many students have very little, if any, knowledge on coding and programming so by starting students off early in their education in such a way that gets students interested in a STEM related field, coding classes would definitely by a huge success. Overall, many students would be actively learning STEM subjects through the implementation of technology which would be available to schools at little cost, thereby further advancing society in the cutting edge and interesting field of computer science and technology.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. The real problem, though, is not that the students aren't learning enough programming but that we're not doing a good enough job teaching the basics of reading, writing, and math. Before computer science was a universally offered college degree, the best programmers came from the mathematician and scientist ranks. So I'm not disagreeing with Sean but claiming that programming is an application of logical and critical thinking. I suppose one can flip the cause and effect by claiming that programming is the best way to teach logical and critical thinking. However, I'm less doctrinaire and suspect that which leads to what is very much a function of a person's natural interests and learning style.

Anonymous said...

Good point!

Logical and critical thinking are always good characteristics to develop, but programming, even in its simplest form, has the additional benefit that it is also a very practical asset which can come in handy in daily life, i.e. modern life.