6 Ways the #HourofCode Could Change Computer Science for the Better

If you’ve had anything to do with Twitter this week, or computers in general, you’ve likely seen the phrase ‘Hour of Code’ being used and wondered what on earth it’s all about. To anyone over the age of 25, coding can seem like a foreign language entirely, but when President Obama is the person who kicks off proceedings on Monday morning, you know it’s time to sit up and take notice.

The Hour of Code is a non-profit scheme started in 2013 that believes in a clear vision – that every student in school should have the opportunity to learn computer science and computer programming as core parts of the curriculum, with the secondary aim to increase participation by women and under-represented students of colour.

Despite being just a year old, the Hour of Code scheme has already initiated a wave of success across America and overseas. 59 million students have tried the Hour of Code in 180 countries, inspiring a change of attitude towards computer programming that has even begun to effect policy changes at State level.

Barack Obama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what are the effects of an Hour of Code?

Coding Promotes Higher Level Thinking

The lateral thinking involved in coding promotes skills such as reasoning, analyzing, evaluating, decision making, problem solving, communication and collaboration. As we all know, these skills are highly valued beyond the school environment in addition to being essential parts of learning how to effectively code. Could this make your students more desirable in the jobs market? Bill Gates certainly thinks so. ‘Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better’ says Gates, ‘it creates a way of thinking that I think is helpful in all domains.’

Coding Tackles Real World Problems

Teachers world over have been asked the question ‘when am I going to use this in real life?’ Well, now the answer is quite simple. In addition to the invaluable ‘higher thinking’ benefit to students who do programming, the coding itself is a core skill that doesn’t lose relevancy as time goes on. Yes, the codes may be longer and more complex, but the basics don’t change and can be taken directly into working life. Students will naturally develop troubleshooting and problem solving skills when learning to code, as they edit and adapt their program to work in the most effective way possible. With an ever increasing digital society, children can take a real world problem, think through the possibilities, and deliver a solution to that problem. How’s that for getting kids to think for themselves?

Computer Science Skills Directly Improve a Child’s Future Earnings

The best passions are born out of moments of inspiration and an unrivalled feeling of accomplishment. When this happens young, who knows what a child may end up doing. The Hour of Code will no doubt provide that inspiration for someone and secure a bright future at the same time. Computer Science is a top paying college degree, with computer programming jobs growing at 2 X the national average. It’s predicted that by 2020 there will be 1,000,000 more computer programming jobs than CS students, with many of these being the highest paid jobs in the world. To throw another statistic at you, only 15% are women and 8% are people of colour. Every company benefits from a diverse workforce, so an equal standard of Computer Science education is key to ensure a bright future for those in the classroom, especially when the majority of schools don’t offer dedicated computer programming classes as it is.

Students Will Be More Willing to Try and Learn New Skills in Their Future

It’s no secret that learning something new becomes more daunting as you grow up. As the Hour of Code is aimed at beginners of any age, students and teachers can take on the challenge at the same time. Don’t believe us? Watch the video below of President Obama giving it a go! With an increasing emphasis placed on the adoption of new technologies in school, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressure that comes with having to adapt teaching and learning methods to include tablets, laptops, SmartBoards and mobile devices. Taken on in short, manageable chunks means that barriers to technology adoption don’t seem so intimidating; this can have lifelong positive consequences for children and adults alike. Even if you never intend to do it for a pay check, learning the most basic of basics can change the way you look at our increasingly digital world.

Coding Can be Taught Anywhere at Any Time

Coding is everywhere and nowhere. We see evidence of its existence every day of our lives, yet rarely get an insight into how it’s all put together. Rather than the nerve cell of wires and screens seen in hacker movies of the 90’s, today’s coding is a far less complex experience than we are often led to believe. A teacher from the States reported on how he ran his Hour of Code class from the floor of a library, just using tablets. With students bringing in their own devices and through the use of limited school resources, the turnout was huge and involved students and teachers learning together in an environment that lacked the need for a teacher/student hierarchy.

Students Can Take Charge of Their Own Learning

The Hour of Code boasts a huge selection of resources designed for use inside or outside school. Once children have got the bug, there’s no saying how far they could go. If the world can learn anything from Minecraft, it’s that children have a huge imagination that truly flies when given access to resources that encourages their ideas and helps them become reality. Children naturally want to push the limits of their understanding and see the results, which is easily achieved when it comes to computer programming. What if they don’t want to stop at the end of the day? Let them run with it at home! You could have the next Mark Zuckerburg in the making…

 

Resources:

– http://code.org/promote

– http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/08/barack-obama-becomes-the-first-president-to-write-code/

– https://medium.com/@DesignSaunders/how-i-ran-an-hour-of-code-in-the-library-65e08a6c7249

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