An Hour of Code a day…

Issue: Volume 95, Number 2

Posted: 9 February 2016
Reference #: 1H9cyq

The Hour of Code movement is a worldwide phenomenon designed to show teachers and students that anybody can get stuck into coding, not just ‘techy’ people.

Centred around the website hourofcode.com(external link), Hour of Code is providing the tools for teachers to introduce students to the world of coding with a wealth of tutorials that can ground students in the basics of computer science and programming.

Hour of Code happens during Computer Science Education (CSE) Week, which last year was 7 –13 December, but schools can use the tutorials online at any time of year. Schools and teachers are encouraged during CSE Week to use one of the existing tutorials to hold introductory classes on programming, or come up with their own lesson plan and share it with the whole world. There are plenty of opportunities through Hour of Code to collaborate with students from around the world and share experiences.

Worldwide participation 

The spread of the Hour of Code movement has been amazing – in fact, last year’s Hour of Code became one of the biggest education events in history. More than 180 countries and tens of millions of students have participated, learned, and created their own Hour of Code events.

Hour of Code is organised by Code.org, a non-profit, US-based organisation “dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students...” The movement has many prominent corporate partners on board, including Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon.

Teachers who know nothing about coding and computer science shouldn’t be put off. Hour of Code tutorials and activities are designed to be self-guided. There are also learning programmes for every age level, from early childhood education up.

Even if a school isn’t connected to the internet – and this is a real concern for less prosperous countries of the world – there are ‘unplugged activities’ that can be downloaded. To make Hour of Code completely flexible, tutorials on the site are designed to work on any given computing platform, from PCs to smartphones to tablets – there are even some activities that don’t require a computer at all!

The tutorials are flexible in terms of learning style as well. There are options to work in pairs, use a projected screen, and so on.

According to the website, “the goal of the Hour of Code is not to teach anybody to become an expert computer scientist in one hour. One hour is only enough to learn that computer science is fun and creative, that it is accessible at all ages, for all students, regardless of background. The measure of success of this campaign is not in how much CS students learn – the success is reflected in broad participation across gender and ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and the resulting increase in enrolment and participation we see in CS courses at all grade levels.”

The QPS Tecki Hacker Club


Cyndi Kruijer is e-learning lead teacher at Queenstown Primary school. Her students used Scratch throughout most of last year, but decided to give Hour of Code a go as well. Cyndi says that the exercise was well worthwhile.

“At Queenstown Primary, we have a group called the QPS Tecki Hacker Club, which meets every Tuesday lunchtime to code and to share ideas. The children have used Scratch throughout the year but the Hour of Code website gave the children access to a lot of new coding programmes to try. One of these was the Hopscotch app which we put onto the iPads. The children spent the [Hour of Code] hour creating using this fun coding app."

“The excitement and engagement in the room for the hour was amazing. The children discussed how this app could be used within their learning in the classroom and took their ideas back to share with their teachers and peers. On our blog there is the link to the Hour of Code website, which we will explore further and the children can access this during their holiday break.”

QPS student voice on Hour of Code

“I did the Hour of Code with my friend Kate and we both really enjoyed it. It was cool how it showed you the basics before letting you have a go yourself, although I wish it would be easier to delete action blocks you didn’t want to use. Thanks for recommending it.” – Hannah and Kate

“I thought this was a super fun website – my favourite ones were Minecraft and Flappy Bird.” – Abby

“In the code program, Adam and Ben learnt a lot of things about code and made a game, which was like Flappy Bird.”

“We thought this program was very well made and quite easy to use because it had good instructions and was much simpler than all the other coding websites we have tried. I think we would use it again for this sort of activity.” – Helena and Sami

“I thought the code website was quite good. I created the game Flappy Bird and it was fun. Maybe you could organise something similar for older kids.” – Jorja

“I thought that the code website was really cool but I thought that it could have more courses on it that are for older kids. Flappy Bird was about the only course that I liked. But overall I think that it was really cool.” – Bella

“We really enjoyed this. We liked it lots and we would recommend it to others. If we could change it we would put more games in it. I think QPS should revolutionise it. Thanks for sharing it with us.” – Cameron and Hunter.

 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:13 PM, 9 February 2016

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