As you look at coding tools, you need to look for diversity and inclusion. It needs to match both the student and the student's level of learning. Students need to be able to see themselves in the characters and stories that they can tell. It also needs to have the tools necessary to adapt to any learning challenge a student might have. Let’s look at how you might be able to get there.
The first thing to look at is the diversity of characters. Many coding platforms will go with characters that don’t have genders or skin tones to avoid this, but if you can find one that leans into diversity, it should stand out a bit more. Look for one that has a variety of skin tones, various genders, non-gendered characters, and even the ability for students to make characters look like themselves. It’s always fun to code with real people, and it gives you the option to use coding in specific school content. Just make sure you do it with characters that bring out the best in all students.
As we look at diversity and inclusion, you also have to look at how you can make learning work for every student. You have to be able to personalize student interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Just imagine that one student may be a bit ahead of the others. How do you teach to that?
To personalize their coding content, I would look for two things in a coding platform: personalized assignments and the ceiling. The first is easy. Can you assign different content to different students in the same class? Look for things like the ability to assign a Python project to one student in a class while the others get a block project. That will tell you about personalization quickly.
The ceiling is also so important. How many different things can kids create, and in how many other formats? Having a low ceiling means the options for students who need a more personalized approach are minimal. Having a high ceiling makes that personalized approach limitless as you can tweak content for the student, and they can create what fits them.
Looking at inclusion can also mean other tools. Can the coding resource use another language like Spanish? Does it have a voiceover? If it doesn’t, can you add it? Anything that a student needs to engage at their level should be able to be there.
In conclusion, diversity and inclusivity comes down to how things are presented and can you make every student feel welcome. While coding tools are still progressing to this goal, you can still make it a point to look for diversity and inclusion needs. Students deserve it!