Is coding for computer teachers only?
When we think of teaching coding in a classroom, the first image that comes to mind is of computers and computer science (CS) teachers. However, believing that coding is only for CS teachers is like saying ‘a chalk’ should only be used by an expert. Like chalk is used by all teachers as a teaching aid, similarly, teachers of all subjects can use coding as a tool to make their subject content engaging and interactive.
For example, Social Science teachers can use block-based coding to recreate scenes from history. Students too can enjoy applying their coding skills to create a comic book-style program with characters, dialogues, changing backdrops to showcase their understanding of the sequence of events.
Similarly, a Mathematics teacher can prompt students to program calculators that do certain calculations or solve equations. Learning simple logical operators and applying them to create a program to solve problems can invoke the interest of those students in mathematics who find it confusing and challenging.
In English language classes, teachers can teach students to build a program that tells the user which article (a, an, or the) to use before a particular noun. Children can be encouraged to pair up with bilingual peers and build a translation dictionary using simple block-based coding applications.
In Science, teachers can teach about the food web and ecosystem by coding those relationships and animating them. Click on the deer and they multiply, denuding the landscape of vegetation. Click on the wolves to try to restore some balance, and so forth.
Coding can serve as an effective mode of inquiry and expression, and along the way, students can develop computational thinking skills by using ideas such as sequencing, conditionals, debugging, and iterative fixing and testing of programs. Coding has the potential to enhance learning outcomes in a classroom as through this tool students begin to take ownership of their learning process.
But to achieve this, stand-alone computer science classes are not enough, it is important to integrate coding into all mainstream subjects. Teachers from non-tech backgrounds should not succumb to a feeling that it’s too late for them to learn CS fundamentals. With patience and practice, teachers from any background can learn coding and use it to their advantage in the classrooms. This can also motivate far more students to explore the wonderful tool of coding to express themselves and solve problems that impact underserved communities.