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Is Code.org Bad or Good for my Student or Child

In today’s post I want to cover if Code.org is BAD or GOOD for your student or child. I’ve heard both sides and there’s a lot of misinformation out there online that is not giving the parent or teacher the right idea about exactly what is Code.org computer science curriculum. So hopefully I can clear this up once and for all and address the worrys of parents. Because I think the real worry for parents and teachers comes down to this: Is my student or child wasting their time on the computer and just playing games? Well…I promise if you keep reading you’ll stop feeling guilty as a parent like I did and see that computer screen time can be for learning and enjoyable.

About Code.org’s Mission

Code.org is a computer science curriculum for schools that is run as a non-profit. Their vision is to bring coding to every student all over the USA. You can read more about their vision here: https://code.org/about.

What we here at Simply Coding like about Code.org is that it really gives the kid or student a nice introduction into the world of coding specifically through their program called, “hour of code”. But as I write this I really want parents to understand the differences of real world coding for kids and what we like to call visual programming languages. I’ll do the best I can to explain in parent language.

2 Types of Programming Languages

Scratch EditorVisual Based Computer Programming (not real coding environment)

I like to refer to this as the drag and drop method of coding games. It is easier at first when you are just learning the logic or syntax to simply have a student click the mouse and then drag and drop either images or pieces of already written code into blocks. It’s also great for those who do not yet know how to type and are trying to gain exposure to see if coding may be something they will like. Most kids start here. However, if you notice your child starting to get bored, then it may be time for something more challenging. Code.org is instant gratification for kids, which is why they like it! You simply login online and start clicking and dragging and instantly can see your projects! However, the downfalls are that you cannot go farther than this, thus progression stops for the child and creates boredom. This is mainly due to the fact that most kids that are into coding have the brain to want to keep going and designing their own games or projects beyond their imaginations. With just dragging and dropping blocks is simply not going to cut it for them. Because it is a non profit there is no customer support, which can lead to a first time frustrating experience for some. The child is on their own. So parents just be aware of that. And I almost forgot that because they host all kids projects on their libraries (website) you can’t really save your work and post it whereever.

Examples of visual based coding: Code.org Blockly Hour of Code, Khan Academy, CodeCademy, Scratch MIT program

Bottom Line: Blockly and other similar programs are great to introduce logic or syntax. They are fun to do for kids and great to expose them to how coding works and the cool stuff you can make with it. It is more like you’re playing a game right of the bat. I relate it to perhaps a “theory” class of learning the piano or learning how to play one song without really learning the notes. I can still play “in the jungle” by Lion King and don’t know a single note!

Text Based Computer Programming (real live coding environment).

Once your child is bored, then it is definitely time to move into the text based computer programming to keep feeding his or her imagination of creations. This is the real life coding where your child or student will download a text editor onto their computer (which is free by the way) and actually write or type in letters, numbers, symbols, etc. to then upload to the internet and display their games or projects. A text editor is like notepad or microsoft word, but for computer programming for kids. The downfall is it can be kind of boring to start off as one doesn’t know the basic instructions or rules. However, at Simply Coding we actually have come up with 3 useful games (pong,fish,mario) in the first lesson that we use as a medium to teach the kids coding. This helps with the boredom. We also do live chat support and live weekly webinars to help the child through any frustrations they’re having to try and make it a great first experience. The downfall is that the student does need to know how to type 15 words per minute and this is because we want it to be a great experience and finger typing won’t get the job done and be frustrating for your child and you as the parent. The other thing to be aware of is that there is no forgiveness in text-based coding for kids. You put a semi colon in the wrong place or forget a letter somewhere, the computer will not have the right instructions to move an object and the code will fail. But nowadays there’s so many tools that check the code and tell the student where the errors are. Just like if you were to hit the wrong key on the piano. Also unlike other sites we do NOT host your kids projects at all. They get to learn how to post it on github and create their own portfolio of stuff. This way they take it with them and it’s theirs forever!

Examples of text based coding for kids: Javscript game designPython multiplayer, building websites in html css

Bottom Line: Text based computer programming is the real deal. You actually type the code and then see it come to life! There are no boundaries. The more you learn, the more you can do that eventually leads to a skill and a job or career! I would relate this to actually reading music and playing the piano and not just learning a song to where you eventually can pick up a sheet of music and play anything. At least that makes sense in my head.

text based coding for kids

Which Coding for Kids Course Best for my Child or my Students?

This is actually quite easy to answer. It really depends on their age and or grade in school, their previous exposure to any type of coding, and typing skills. If the child is in elementary school or 11 years or younger, then they probably most likely don’t know how to type yet either and would benefit from code.org or scratch coding programs for initial exposure and to learn some logic. If on the other hand your student or child is 12 years old to 18 years old and can type, then the dragging and dropping will become very boring very quickly and the free coding resources out there is not going to cut it.

Conclusions:

I hope this was explained well enough to a parent, but if you have any questions, please hit us up on chat or email us at support@simplycoding.org or heck even give us a call. We are parents too and totally get it. Simply Coding for kids is all about turning those computer gamers into programmers and coders. Feel free to watch our video series on this here. It will go through 4 short videos of what we exactly do at Simply Coding!

Signing off,

Dustin

Every Kid Needs Coding – Don’t Be Left Behind

The skill of the future & why every child needs coding

Look around you, computers are everything. I bet you can’t name a job that doesn’t include using a computer – I dare you. It just doesn’t happen. So why not understand learn coding by bill gatesthem? In a recent report, by the year 2020 5 million jobs will be lost to automation. Now, it’s not that you can’t get a job in the future if you don’t know any basic code, but it is saying that it will be very hard to get one of those jobs. Why play Texas hold ’em with 1 card? Instead, choose to play with pocket aces, and learn computer coding. The time is now! kids are creative and smart. They are open to new learning strategies and have the chance to learn a valuable skill right now! “Learning to write programs stretches your mind, helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.” –Bill Gates

Coding for Kids – Regardless of Profession

Computer developers are not the only people who use code. This is a common misconception. Marketing/Adverting, Public Relations, Sales, Human Resources and many other jobs often ask for applicants to have some background in coding. If you docoding for kidsn’t believe me go to glassdoor.com (or any job search engine) and search for jobs in any of these fields. Under skills, most will ask for a basic knowledge of JavaScript, HTML or CSS. An applicant without any of these skills is instantly placed on the bottom of the list. It isn’t enough to understand social media or to be familiar with just tech. Knowing how to use a computer is not the same as knowing how a computer works. Make sure you stand out for the future.

We give your child a head start

Stop allowing your kids to waste entire summers playing video games and watching YouTube. Give them the chance to learn a new skill while still having fun. With summer camps available all summer long, they can finally start getting familiar with code. Whether they try it for one week or do a whole month, we can help them start understanding code with fun, interactive methods like learning JavaScript through modding Minecraft. We teach kids to understand what the different computer programming languages are and the courses allow them to create using all of them.

computer terms for dummiesALSO….A FREE GIFT for You!

If you haven’t already we are offering our “techie” dictionary. THE “TECHIE” DICTIONARY FOR PARENTS WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND THEIR KIDS’ COMPUTER JARGON. Have you heard your children use words like, Scratch, MMO, Javascript, Minecraft Mods, Github, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or even Java? Well… we’ve compiled a list of the TOP 70 computer jargon words you absolutely need to know as a parent in this FREE parents guide. Think of it as a “computer terms for dummies” type read, but entertaining! CLAIM IT HERE.  

Don’t Let Your Kids Waste Another Summer! Take Coding Classes This Summer

A summer of learning

Imagine this scenario: a summer where your child plays video games and learns a new valuable skill. Here at Simply Coding, this isn’t just a dream scenario, but a reality. Let’s be honest, it can be challenging to find something in the summer that challenges children while at the same time allows the children to enjoy what they are doing. We understand this, which is why what we are doing is revolutionary. Our summer programs allow your children to not only learn computer coding skills, but let’s them play Minecraft while they learn!

Why it works

We developed our software with the realization that children get a real sense of satisfaction if they relate to what they create. By working through Minecraft, the kids can compare what they create to what they have already experienced. They get excited to see the things that they create in a game that they already know and love. As the children evolve in their coding skills, they enjoy the art of coding itself, unlocking their true creativity.

How does playing a video game teach code

Minecraft, the game, is written in Javascript code. Javascript is one of the three core languages of the world wide web, which means that it is very used and very valuable. By understanding the Minecraft’s code the kids are actually learning to read and manipulate Javascript code. The kids will learn to build websites and write code all with their knowledge that started by learning to make mods in Minecraft.

See for yourself

Our summer programs have gone on for a couple years now. During this time we perfected and fixed our program so that the children learn the necessities of coding, while at the same time enjoy showing up daily to perfect their projects. These lessons encourage the kids to upload everything they do to their own personal portfolio on github.com (just like this). They will be able to show these portfolios to future schools and future employers. To see others games made by real students, go to the student page on the home screen of simplycoding.org and under the student tab, click on code dungeon. Our goal is for these kids to be career ready one day, while enjoying the learning process right now. To learn more about the summer camps, or to reserve a spot, contact us here.