Education systems around the world are lagging behind in integrating technology education into their curriculum and teaching approaches.
This is forcing proactive schools, teachers and parents to take matters into their own hands and seek out educational activities for children which are related to computer science, programming and technological literacy. NewTechKids should know!
Here are some tips for deciding what types of computer science activities to consider:
Tip: Know the difference between coding and programming
Although many people use coding and programming interchangeably, there are significant distinctions. Programming covers a broad range of activities, including analysis, problem-solving, algorithm generation, the application of computer science concepts, and testing. Coding is the implementation of programming: writing the actual code to execute tasks.
Coding can be a great activity if it is taught in the context of logic, pattern recognition and problem-solving. Unfortunately, this is often not the case as most teachers and instructors focus on specific programming languages and teach coding as a technical skill. Programming languages evolve and many are becoming obsolete. Some believe that coding will be the next blue collar job.
Tip: Look for activities focused on computational thinking, not coding
When people think of computer science, they generally think of coding. NewTechKids believes that computer science is much broader and includes topics such as programming, technology systems, design and prototyping processes, and technological literacy.
To us, the real goal of computer science education is to help kids develop computational thinking skills which they can then apply in different subjects, learning environments, and everyday contexts.
Tip: Where possible, look for activities taught by teachers, not volunteers
If it had not been for countless programmers, developers and volunteers, millions of children would never have been exposed to coding and aspects of computer science. They have and continue to play an important role in exposing children to technology.
However, the time has come for a shift to computer science education for primary school children which is defined by appropriate pedagogy, didactics, teaching approaches and classroom management strategies. This means that where possible, computer science education should be developed and taught by qualified teachers.
We recognise that there are significant bottlenecks which make computer science teachers hard to source. So we encourage schools, teachers and parents to lobby school boards and Ministries of Education and teachers colleges to make computer science teacher training a priority and allocate funding. Read about teacher training developments in the EU (Section #6).