Let’s get back to looking at things to ask about a coding curriculum. We have been doing conference preview blogs since February is such a heavy conference season, but as we move into March that schedule slows down and this series will be the focus of the blog for the next couple of weeks.
This week we focus on a massive factor when it comes to a coding curriculum. It also applies to coding hardware and tools. It’s all about ease of entry. Can someone start that coding curriculum, hardware, or tool easily? As we expand out to teachers who have not taught coding before, this might be the most important question, and really that ease of entry should be there for both teachers and students.
What does this mean for teachers? It can start with having a platform that is a familiar format. If you model it after an LMS that familiar format is there. They can start with building a class and assigning lessons, and they can choose lessons from a pre-determined bunch. It takes out the guesswork. You can then add in a host of teacher resources that allow someone who has never taught coding to feel comfortable. This ease of use has to be there since we don’t have enough programmers who want to go into the classroom. We have to be able to depend on others.
Ease of use also matters on the student side. It all starts with their dashboard. Can they get into the classroom easily? Are assignments easy to find? Once that is there, can students easily move to creation? You don’t want the dashboard and the experience to get in the way, but you want to have a dashboard that gives them things like tutorials to easily progress.
The ease of use factor also comes into play as you look at coding hardware. A great example is the category of microcomputers. There are a ton of them out there but many of them require a lot of training for both teachers and students to get started. They may be powerful, but if you can’t unlock that power there is really no point. It’s why micro:bit is such a great starting point. It allows any student who can read to get started with block coding to build almost anything.
The best tools are those ones that combine this ease of use with an incredibly high ceiling. When you find those, you find magic.