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Computer code is the “new literacy” for schools

Posted December 10, 2014

University of Adelaide computer scientists are helping spread computer programming skills into primary school classrooms across the country, saying that “coding” for young children is becoming as essential as maths, reading and writing.

The University’s Computer Science Education Research Group has just launched its second Digital Technologies MOOC (massive open online course) for teachers, designed to assist Australian primary school teachers in understanding and teaching the fundamentals of code and computational thinking.

Speaking at the start of the Computer Science Education Week (8-14 December) during which ‘Hour of Code’ events are being held around the world, the University’s Associate Professor Katrina Falkner says children need to learn about digital technology – not just how to use it but how it works and how to create it.

“Learning about code is about understanding the language of computers,” says Associate Professor Falkner, Head of the University’s School of Computer Science. “With our increasingly digital world, learning about code means learning how technology works at a deeper level. It’s essential for understanding how technology can be used to solve problems and to advance our society.

“It is only by starting in the early years that we can teach code as the essential literacy that it has become.”

The Digital Technologies MOOC is a professional development program for primary teachers in line with the Digital Technologies section of the new Australian curriculum, from kindergarten to year 6. It shows teachers that coding can be easily integrated into their lessons.

The free course is available online until the end of February. Participants complete a portfolio of assessed activities at their own pace and build a portfolio of resources that all Australian teachers can benefit from.

The University of Adelaide is also holding an ‘Hour of Code’ event for its staff and students on Friday 12 December. Fun and interactive learn-to-code tutorials will be used to teach simple coding.

“Coding is rapidly becoming part of many other disciplines,” says Dr Rebecca Vivian, one of the event organisers. “The event is suitable for those without any coding experience and we will have them coding by the end of the hour.”

“Opportunities like Hour of Code and our Digital Technologies MOOC provide a way for everyone to understand what makes computers tick, and how they can harness the power of computing for their own means,” says Associate Professor Falkner. “It helps us become a generation of creators of technology, rather than solely users of technology.”

Source: University of Adelaide

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