I got the Grok Coding virus

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image from code.org

Well the Hour of Code week is over and I have to say it seemed to be a rousing success. Vendors and organizations from around the world created all sorts of cool coding activities for school kids to do online and boy did they ever. By weeks end 14,866,302 kids had sat down and typed a line or two of code.

For those who weren’t aware, this past week Code.org declared December 10th, 2013 Hour of Code Day. It was a coordinated effort to introduce school kids to coding in the hopes of spawning a new generation of Wazniacks. The incredible thing was that, what was supposed to be an hour of code turned into a week of coding for many. At least a half-dozen teachers I know participated on the 10th and just kept rolling with it because the kids loved it.

By any measure, Code.org’s plans hit the mark and then some.

My own ICT kids have been actually coding since September using Code Academy. Some are already digi-weary veterans and just eat the stuff up, while others are just starting out and myself well… As I have mentioned in other posts I am a hack but I figured there was enough open learning resources out there to have kids doing some self-directed coding.

I know some people will be saying “THAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH TODAYS SCHOOL SYSTEM!!! Teachers who don’t know what they are doing teaching our kids!” and I say to them… “Is that any reason not to make it available to kids to try?” Besides, if you look at all the famous coders out there, they are all self-directed learners. Just listen to their stories of how they did what they did. Virtually all of the Codestein (new word) out there that I am aware of, didn’t have anyone holding their hand. They just got the opportunity to code and sat down and did it.

In my defence however, I have to say I am no Luddite. I do know a thing or two.  I am a wiz at SEO, I am a WordPress master and I know my way around most Adobe products, so I have something to contribute. When it comes to coding, I liken my understanding of it to my grasp of the French language. As a Canadian, I have acquired some basics because that is part of being Canadian and as a web master, I have acquired some coding basics because that is just part of being a web master. Sure I am no Zuckerberg but who cares! I am willing to learn and learning I am.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have decided to start using a learn to code platform from Grok Learning for next term. They use Python as their feature coding platform and they have put together a skookum little learn to code interface. I have been hacking around on it for the past week and I have to say… I have caught the code virus. Any free time I get I am coding away, trying to get a good enough grasp on the fundamentals so that when we get back from the Christmas break, I can be at least one step up on those kids. At least those who are not coding savants.

It is a very cool thing to be able to sit down and learn to code on your own and feel like you are making significant progress. It leads me think that in many ways, coding is meant to be a solitary learning experience. This is not to say people who code should work in isolation. Coders in the real world work collaboratively on crazy complex problems all the time but there is a solitary aspect to coding. I just wish I had more time to sit and play.

I am excited about this coding thing… I think it might catch on with the youngins. By no means do I think every kid needs to become a coding maniac but after this week, I am convinced that having a rudimentary understanding of how coding works is a good thing. Sorta like knowing how to fix fantom toilet noises or make Kraft dinner. You just need to know how to do it.

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