There are many commercially available software in the market today purportedly claimed to provide computing skills to young learners, as a matter of fact, it is nothing more than just another captivating game to test their cognitive reflexes or a pre-designed program to teach what is “1 + 1”.
The concept of teaching computing skills to kids with coding and scripting is a challenge, and I would say almost impossible. The insipid language and frustrating syntax itself will drive them away, let alone creating interest in them.
Having said, how do we initiate kids to embrace programming interest without daunting them with all the programming jargons ?? It might not be conceivable 30 years ago, but with today’s technology, it is feasible with the development of 21st century learning skills and tools. If you google what 21st Century Learning is about, the learning paradigm generally refers to the 3Cs. No…….I’m not talking about Cash, Cars and Condominium. It’s all about
- Creativity & Innovation
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Communication and Collaboration
Coming back to computing for kids, Lifelong Kindergarten Group of MIT has developed an educational software program, called Scratch, that supports the nine types of 21st century learning skills identified by the Partnership for the 21st Century (http://www.p21.org). These skills include:
- thinking creatively
- communicating clearly
- analyzing systematically
- collaborating effectively
- designing iteratively, and
- learning continuously
What is Scratch anyway ??
Scratch is a visual block-based programming tool where you snap together programs from logical building blocks that is dragged over from the blocks palette.
Scratch covers a range of educational and entertainment constructivist projects from maths and science, including simulations and visualizations of experiments, recording lectures with animated presentations, to social sciences animated stories, and interactive art and music.
How is it possible for parents (or teachers) who has no programming experience, teach their kids at home ??? As Scratch is developed to support one of the 3Cs mentioned earlier, you can join the Scratch Community where you can share and learn from the community. Bear in mind that there are more than a million Scratch users around the globe, and more than 3 million projects uploaded to the web, readily to be shared.
I will also post some tutorials and projects as time goes, this is exactly what this blog is about.
In my next post, I'll talk about physical programming.