Saturday, November 9, 2013

What's Old is New Again: Teaching Coding (Programming) in Elementary Schools.

As a teacher who uses Scratch and MicroWorlds software in my school on a regular basis I am always looking for programing / coding tools.  On facebook I ran into Play-i, a new company creating a robot toy to teach the very young student how to code:  Play-i "Delightful Robots for Children"  I really like this product and from what I can see it's absolutely on the right track: A) Teaching coding (when I first started teaching we called it programming -- what that means today is nicely explained in this Edutopia article 7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills | Edutopia),  B) Constructivist learning (Hands on Exploring, Discovery, Empowerment), C) Problem Solving strategies that aren't bound to only one right way to do things, D) Debugging, (answers aren't a straight line, and when you're moving from point E to F, or V to W, it's there where you make the really amazing discoveries).
And they really seem to have done their homework, the two robots that they show in their video seem really on the cutting edge.  Of course this idea is not new, Seymour Papert created a robot to run his Logo programming back in 1967 (The History of Turtle Robots) and it reminds me of how I started my tech-ed career in 1983 thinking, every school in the world will be teaching programming / coding and having robots before we reach 1990.  Well that was a little optimistic but if Play-i can get us back to that original idea of Papert: Mindstorms, Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, (still a GREAT read) I want to get on that train.