In England, 2014, the new computing curriculum was introduced. Computer sciences have increased in presence on the curriculum in recent years, and the 2014 curriculum changes demonstrate the pressure on children to keep up with their peers in other countries. Universities want to reverse the decline in applicants for computer science courses, gaming companies want more programmers and the government wants more high-tech start ups, so the shift in the curriculum was probably inevitable. The demand for coding and computing skills has increased significantly and people of all ages are starting to go out of their way to learn.
Out of the curriculum, Code Clubs have made an appearance in and out of schools to engage young people in learning about how their technology works. Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. There are 2498 code clubs in the UK run by volunteers who know how to code, teaching children in their local libraries and primary schools.
Raspberry Pi, the cheap, credit card sized computer is a perfect example of taught at home coding. Raspberry Pi plugs into a monitor or TV, which enables people of all ages to explore and learn about code and computing. The kit has been hugely successful and there were millions of orders before it’s release last year. More products geared towards computing and code are coming to the market. The Kano Kit is one of these products. This hugely fun kit built with Raspberry Pi, is a story, complete with books, which contain simple steps to build a computer, make things and explore the world of computers and code. Engaging and interesting, the Kano kit highlights the demand for children to learn about code. Minecraft have developed an add-on called LearnToMod, which aims to teach children coding skills whilst playing. The clever, highly engaging program costs £18 per year and unlocks badges as the player progresses and learns more. There are tons of tutorials on the online modding studio and a private server to test and share mods.
With the introduction of coding into schools, the curriculum has had to adapt to a new way of making computing appealing to children. Previously ICT was a subject focused on teaching kids how to use computers, but not how to understand how they are programmed and how they operate. Understanding how technologies work is very different to knowing how to use the technology. Kano, LearnToMod and Raspberry Pi, demonstrate the growing demand for coding education both from home and in schools. There are numerous apps to help children learn about coding and programming, whilst making it fun to learn.
ScratchJr is aimed towards children between 5-7 years old, and enables them to create their own interactive stories and games. This app is a new type of literacy, similar to how writing helps to organise your thoughts and express ideas, the same is true for coding. Using this app, young children learn how to express themselves with the computer and not just to interact with it. Available on both iPad and Android tablets, this interface is designed to develop sequencing skills that are foundational for later academic success. Kandu, is an iPad app designed to enable kids to learn about the overall structure of coding through developing their own games and animated pictures. This app doesn’t actually use any code, well, not like you’d expect. Kandu uses toolbars on the left and right to allow kids complete control over characters, backgrounds and objects. Kandu’s main focus is ensuring seamless user experience that is easy for kids to interact with, meaning they can hop on the platform and get creating.
In conclusion, it is clear that software is the language of our modern world and is becoming critical in our lives. We are facing a future, which will possibly be as challenging to those who do not know the language of computers as today can be to those who are illiterate or innumerate. Coding provides a new way of looking at the world and understanding the software we use on a daily basis and is beneficial to understanding future technology too. It's time to future proof ourselves.