Come September every pupil in the UK will learn computer programming. Which leaves schools with just seven months to prepare for the IT overhaul.
Which presents a problem. The government has stepped in because we’re not producing enough qualified programmers here in the UK. So who plans on teaching our kids these skills?
The reality is our teachers have a lot of catching up to do as well. Luckily, the basics of code can be picked up quite easily. That’s not the problem. Making it fun to learn will be the real challenge. And schools need to take the right approach for the scheme to succeed.
One of the biggest challenges for teachers is engaging their pupils. Even the basics of programming involves a collection of languages based on symbols, brackets and equations. So it’s vital that schools are able to teach programming in an engaging way. Scribbling code on a whiteboard just won’t cut it.
Technology is already making classrooms more engaging. But schools in the UK have been slow to adopt devices like interactive whiteboards and tablets – something that can’t be put off any longer as code comes to school.
Tablets and smartphones bring programming into our daily lives. Pupils using mobile apps, playing games and browsing the Web already have an interest in programming. Unlocking that interest is the key.
To teach code effectively it needs to be made relevant, using these devices and the formats that interest young people. Learning C+ and advanced skills can come later. But first we need to capture their imagination by teaching what relates to them most.
By using tablets pupils can learn the basics of code in a practical way. They can put theory to the test and build code that works in the real world, on the devices they use every day
There’s more to programming than code, though. It’s a collaborative effort that involves teamwork and a range of digital skills. If students are programming until they’re 16, they’ll need to learn how to create, share, edit and debug code as well. Which means working together to achieve shared goals.
Tablets and classroom technology play a vital role here. With the latest connectivity options, tablets allow students to connect and collaborate in the same classroom – much like they would for a technology firm. More importantly, it allows them to collaborate outside the classroom. To connect with each other, different classes or even different schools. There’s nothing to stop classrooms from different sides of the world linking up to build something together.