As the winter holidays drag on, many parents grow concerned about the hours their children dedicate playing video games. Learning to make such games, or other computer programs, would be far preferable. Thankfully, there is no shortage of such practical programming “how tos” online, and many of them are as engaging as the games that children are hooked on.
One of the most easily recognized of those resources is code.org. Upon its debut, the educational programming tutorial site was hailed by Tech Crunch as having the “goal of making computer science and programming accessible for everyone.” The article went on to quote code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi, who lamented “schools not treating computer science the way they should, and they don’t recognize that coding is an essential skill like reading and writing.” He added that software needs are creating numerous jobs and transforming countless industries.
Many experts have praised Partovi’s efforts; Education World praised how the free site “puts coding in the hands of younger learners via interlocking, color-coded blocks that carry out various computer science functions.” Numerous users agreed: 500,000 students signed up for the program science 101 course in only a month in 2014.
Despite its success, code.org is far from the only such programming resource embraced by tech gurus. Graphite offers a detailed list of other online coding education resources like Tynker, which it describes as a “colorful coding platform caters to strong independent readers” in grades 4-8, and Scratch, an eclectic MIT designed platform suitable from kindergarten all the way grade 12.
However, the true future of coding education may lay with apps instead of websites. Numerous options are included on the Graphite list, and PC Mag has arguably an even more enticing list with eye-catching options like Hopscotch and Daisy the Dinosaur (both free for iPad). The former features child friendly pre-built blocks and is praised for being open-ended, while the latter has an even simpler concept involves using programming to make its eponymous dinosaur move around.
While both of those apps would serve young novices well, Code Combat may be more attractive to older learners who long for a bit of RPG action in their coding lesson. And high school students, whose own programming careers looming far sooner, would do well to try Free Code Camp, a more practical alternative that has hours of coding lessons and also connects users to non-profits and other organizations looking for coding volunteers, so that those aspiring programmers can get easily get some early hands on experience.
These are but a few of the educational coding options available online or at your app store. That’s good news for children looking for a fun incentive to learn, and parents who long for those youngsters to use their time wisely.