A few months back, European Schoolnet sent a mail mentioning of a new online MOOC Course on ‘EU Code week’. I was intrigued as coding is the new educational mantra but knowing my computer programming skills, I was apprehensive. What if they expected me to conduct practical lessons in coding? What if they expected me to use coding programs like SCRATCH? These thoughts stopped me from joining the course immediately but within two-three days, I was able to convince myself that if I failed it would only be to my knowledge and no one else’s, so what was there to lose? Teacher to Coder: Let’s talk with machines! Teacher to Coder: Let’s talk with machines!
Coding refers to writing a precise set of instructions a computer can understand to execute an action, creating computer programming code. Coding is therefore the primary method for allowing intercommunication between humans and machines.
Computational thinking describes instead a way of looking at problems and systems so that a computer can be used to help us solve or understand them. Computational thinking is not only essential to the development of computer programs but can also be used to support problem solving across all disciplines and sectors.
It is a myth that only computers can teach coding. One can introduce computational thinking to students through different disciplines.
Give students a complex word problem:
Q. When 4 is added to two numbers, the ratio is 5:6. When 4 is subtracted from the two numbers, the ratio is 1:2. Find the two numbers.
The students need to use decomposition i.e. break the complex problem into smaller parts and solve it part by part.
While solving problems, students need to use pattern recognition which is the process of recognizing patterns by using machine learning algorithm. It is the classification of data based on knowledge already gained or on statistical information extracted from patterns and/or their representation. For example, while talking about the classes of animals, a description of an animal would be a pattern. While talking about various types of balls, then a description of a ball is a pattern.
Students can also create algorithms to achieve a desired outcome like list complete movements to solve Rubik’s cube. Any other person could follow the steps to achieve success.
In Literature they could use computational thinking to analyse a poem with respect to rhyme, imagery, tone, diction and structure.
Hour of Code Activities
A fun-filled learning activity is a step-up. In a dance party game, I wrote basic steps to make the players move a step or two. Further, I even changed the backdrop, added more dancers, changed music and so much more. From being a complete novice, I got a hang of playing the games. Thus, if teachers can show so much engagement, you can expect the maximum from the students.
One can use SCRATCH as a digital storytelling tool to create interactive stories, games and animations
Once the basics have kicked in, students can start practising with Scratch. One does not need coding experience to use Scratch and you can use it in all the subjects. There are tutorials to guide the educator and student and one could use it as a digital storytelling tool to create interactive stories, games and animations. It helps students to learn to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. All these skills are essential to prepare students for the 21st century. It’s time to move towards the future and create a learning environment for students where they are challenged and prepared for the future.