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4 websites for coding

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With the change in the ICT curriculum from September, more students will need to get to grips with coding.

Here are 4 sites that will help students and staff to develop their coding skills;

 

  • Code.Org
    Code.org is one of the most popular coding sites for people of all ages. Its initial training program is advertised as being suited for ages 6-106. The instructional videos are full of famous names like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg. The initial training, dubbed “1 Hour of Code” is a fun little game that introduces students to the basics of coding. It uses drag and drop boxes and familiar characters from games like Angry Birds and Plants Vs Zombies to teach the very first steps that you need to learn. The program doesn’t really take an hour and the instructions are straight forward and easy to understand. Once the 1 Hour of Code is complete, students will move back to pen and paper to learn the basics of computational thinking and the lessons just go on from there. They even offer a K-8 program for U.S. public school teachers that offers up to $1,000 in grant money for teachers who use these lesson plans to teach young children how to code.
  • Codecademy
    Codecademy offers a more straight forward approach to coding lessons. Students complete a short introduction and then are invited to choose between a number of programming languages that the site offers. Currently, users can choose between Java, HTML/CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby, and API. The lessons are broken down into individual components. For example, the HTML/CSS lessons start out by teaching the user how to use the proper tags to open and close an HTML document. The next step from there is learning how to use the tags to create titles, paragraphs and all the other basic components of a website. The lessons are not as colorful or entertaining as those on Code.Org so they would be better suited for high school students. They do, however, manage to deliver a large amount of information in a very short amount of time. The lessons are estimated to take between 10-12 hours to complete.
  • Code Racer
    This site is not for the faint of heart and not for those without a little bit of coding knowledge. This site is very similar to Type Racer for typing, in that it pits the student against other players. Instead of typing words or quotes though, the student has to complete coding challenges. There is an “I Need Help” button that will tell the user what needs to be done for the particular challenge but it is not does damage the player’s score. This is a fantastic tool to help students practice their skills in an environment that isn’t quite practical but is eminently entertaining. Students can compete against each other and against other players in this fantastic game that is quickly gaining in popularity. They just moved to http://teamtreehouse.com/.
  • Code School
    Code School is one of the most well known sites for free coding classes. Unfortunately, not all of the classes are free but students are able to access every course on the website for a mere $29 per month, though there is no contract or commitment so the students or teachers can simply stop paying anytime the site is no longer needed or required. The site currently offers comprehensive classes for students who are looking to learn JavaScript, Ruby, and HTML/CSS or want to try their hand at crafting applications for the iOS app store. The code skills are being taught through exciting games with immersive narratives, because people learn best when they are enjoying what they do.

 

iPad Be Nimble, iPad Be Quick

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One of the most challenging lessons for schools to learn in implementing iPads is that the iPad is not a laptop. The conversation can sometimes get bogged down around the device, trapping schools in these definitions as they lose sight of the central reasons to use technology:

  • To enhance teaching and learning
  • To differentiate instruction
  • To personalize the learning experience
  • To solve authentic problems where technology must be used to solve those problems

This is not an easy lesson. It requires a paradigm shift in teaching and learning.

iPads vs. Laptops

It’s worth noting the different features of laptops and iPads and to see the benefit of both devices.

While the laptop is heavy, takes a long time to boot up, and is often used as a word processing tool with typing and keyboarding being paramount, it’s also a powerful device for computer programming and accessing Adobe Flash-based simulations, particularly in the sciences. And the laptop is not bound by the app store. Many adults often prefer using a laptop over an iPad. And many students feel the same way. The laptop is often the default go-to device, full of power and possibility.

The shift to iPads over laptops does not have to be a zero sum game. The ideal setting, being adopted by many schools, is moving to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs to allow for flexibility and for students to work on their own devices. And BYOD also shifts the conversation away from the device and toward the learning experience. In other words, based on the learning experience, which device will best allow students to achieve the learning objectives? It might be a laptop or a tablet — or even a smartphone.

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Students: bring your own technology to uni

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Asking students to use their own tech in lectures could save money, but will it damage attention spans?

A few years ago, if a student got their phone out in a lecture, this was quite a clear sign that they were no longer paying attention. But today, using a phone or tablet in the lecture hall is actually encouraged by universities, many of which are asking students to use their own technology to access learning resources.

As the discussion by many establishments to investigate BYOD continues, The Guardian discusses http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/11/students-bring-tech-device-uni