Here is a list of 7 apps that can be used to introduce and expand on computer program concepts for children of many ages. I have used and seen Hopscotch implemented with children as young as 6 and 7 years and it is equally engaging for adults. On top of programming/coding skills, these apps can assist with sequential thinking, cause & effect, planning, organization, and error analysis and revision: all key components of design-thinking.
A parent of one of my students shared this video with me. Regardless of your familiarity with programming or your comfort with technology it is hard to deny that the shape of our society and culture is changing as a result of computers. How should schools change in response? What should they preserve apart from technological tools that is meaningful and valuable? These are important questions without clear answers. Though this video champions the importance of learning to code and program, it does highlight some important points:
- Computers are prolific in our society and learning how to make them do things (programming & coding) is increasingly relevant.
- Great and influential programmers (indeed great and influential ANYBODYs) are born from a simple spark (i.e. making a word appear on the screen as a result of code you wrote). Providing students with the opportunity to experience that spark (whether in programming or other skills) can set them on a path to a lifetime of engagement and fulfillment in a profession that truly captures their imagination.
- Great inventions are borne of the freedom to imagine and the motivation and exposure to tools that allows progress between idea and product
- There is an increasingly small gap between the words “creative” and “computer engineering/programming”. The former used to be reserved for more “right brain” qualities of fine or performing arts and the latter reserved for the more “left brain” qualities of maths and sciences. In the 21st century creativity is more and more associated with innovative mindset towards varied resources and tools and what a learner can DO with what is around them to effect meaningful change on their community.