Change in education sometimes take time—months or even years. However, this is not true in the area of computer coding in the classroom. Coding has become an ever-evolving curriculum for students in K-12 education. New products, opportunities, and curriculum options seem to come online every day, making it hard to keep up with what is most current and popular in classrooms.
Why does coding continue to be a hot button topic across educational circles? Some of the emphasis has come from the top with President Obama endorsing and funding the expansion of coding in classrooms. Some of it has come from changes in the technology and tools that are available to students. Even from early literacy levels, students have the opportunity to play and code at the same time. Finally, our industry leaders still know that developing coders for the future is important to our economics and national security. All of these facts add up to computer coding being more and more important in schools.
So, what are some of the newer options, topics, and trends in coding? Here are a few worth checking out:
Project Lead the Way continues to be a front runner in coding curriculum. The content is project-based and real-world. Students work in groups and solve cross-curricular problems through coding. Last year, PLTW rewrote their middle and high school courses to increase rigor and align with industry standards. This year, they continue to complete a high school pathway that will end with a cyber security course—a skill set that will be in high demand throughout the next decade. Curriculum continues to be revised and rewritten each year so that an investment by a district results in ongoing updates that are current for our students.
Roblox has become increasingly popular with kids and in classrooms. One of the reasons for the emergence of this is the characters that students can buy in the store to go along with the coding that they are learning in the classroom (or at home). The coding site is easy for students to navigate and highly engaging for them to learn. For elementary students, this would be a great option to expose them to coding this year as its popularity grows.
Another newer trend that we see in schools is coding clubs. These after school opportunities are great for students who have a love and passion for coding, but don’t have time during the school day to work it all in. There are a lot of models for setting this up—here is a good MOOC from Future Learning about the basics of getting a coding club off the ground.
LEGO Mindstorms is another growing player in the classroom robotics/coding market. Many students already love and understand LEGO assemblies, so incorporating the EV3 robots into the classroom isn’t hard for most teachers. In our area, more and more competitions are taking place for schools, coding clubs, and individual students to complete challenges that help to improve their skills.
More than anything, the biggest change in coding in 2018 is how much more pervasive it is in classrooms. The Hour of Code has exploded, and teachers from kindergarten through high school are coding more and more. In our state, the Department of Education is now coordinating the writing of K-12 standards. The fact that a state is looking at how primary level students can learn computer science is something that wasn’t seen much five years ago.
This is just a short list of the new changes and trends in computer coding in the classroom. Many leaders in education, politics, and industry continue to emphasize the why behind teaching computer science (see this article for more about why we need more computer science for students). More and more, teachers are seeing how they can incorporate and integrate coding into the classroom so it isn’t just another thing for teachers to do.
So, whether you are all in with computer coding or if you haven’t even gotten your feet wet, some of these new concepts may help to expand or get started. By keeping up on the current trends, we can not only maintain high levels of student engagement, we can also be up to speed on the changes in industry. In another few weeks, we will probably need to edit this article and update it again—here’s to life-long learning!
Looking for additional STEM and coding resources? Check our Big Guide to STEM, where we dive into the many ways to incorporate STEM learning into the classroom.