Introduction to Programming

With technology constantly increasing, more discussions have been focused on programming. But what is programming and coding? Coding is simply telling a computer what to do. You need to be specific and go step-by-step. Computers are made of binary codes, but writing a binary code would be nearly impossible. So programmers came up with a few other programming languages. If you’re interested in more information on coding for beginners check out Code Conquest’s article “How Programming Works.”

So now the big issue is, should everybody learn to program? Programming has gained more support over the years and more people have jumped on the programming band wagon, including big celebrities like Will.i.am and Chris Bosh. But what’s the argument for getting programming into schools and making if available to everyone? Programmers argue that it’s a new way of thinking and problem solving. And because computers are all around us everyone should learn how to do it so they understand the why and how behind computer programs. To see the full argument watch the video “What Most Schools Don’t Teach.”

In my opinion, not everyone should be required to learn to code. Yes, I think it’s useful and it should definitely be an option in schools but as an elective not a core class. It shouldn’t be required because there are already enough required class that it would need to either replace one of those or take up an elective class which is the student’s choice. No more elective classes should be taken away because they let students learn about what they’re interested in and explore options they may not have known they were interested in. Art and music are an excellent example of why programming shouldn’t be required. Art and music are around us everyday, probably as much as programming and computers are but we aren’t required to learn how to paint or compose a piece of music. We might be required to take and introductory level course but that’s it. And the same should go for programming. Maybe incorporate some basic programming into a computer class but don’t force any more advanced classes, they should get students interested and show them it’s an option. And just because you take an introductory class or two doesn’t mean you should be writing code. It takes awhile to become a coding expert, as it does with any subject, and people who aren’t professionals don’t need to be writing codes for everyone to use. But don’t just take my word for it. Follow the links to read other people’s opinion.

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Introducing kids to programming may seem like a difficult task, but there are plenty of ways to simplify it and get kids interested and involved. One easy way to introduce the concept is with a basic coding exercise. It doesn’t require a computer and it can be funny and engaging. Teachers could have students “code” the steps to complete a simple task. In my W210 class, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but you could also do it with other tasks as well.

Another thing that would get kids involved and excited is Lego robotics. Most kids love Legos and getting to play with them is fun. Plus getting to code the robot to do something would be even more fun. Who doesn’t want to see their creation come to life. There’s also a website www.alice.org that introduces kids to programming in a 3D environment which also makes this website engaging as well.

Programming can be very useful and is a very good career option but it shouldn’t be forced upon every student but available to them.

 

Photo Credit: http://techli.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/coding1.jpg (10/01/2013)

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