The notion of using 1:1 devices, 3D printers and blogs, as well as teaching coding and robotics, not to mention an increase in teacher workload, worried me.

But, like all things we don’t understand, I was scared of something new. First of all, it is important to understand that coding is the new ‘buzz word’ in education and it gets plenty of media attention.

Coding is en vogue. It is the most talked about topic currently in both primary and secondary schools.

But, what is it? What does it really entail?

It is more than just programming a robot; it is the theory behind how technology works.

The new Digital Technologies Curriculum explains that it is an investigation into how technology works.

What is WiFi? What is a touch screen? What is branching? What are ‘if’ statements?

Entering code into an expensive robot may look like fun, but understanding that an app might send signals via blue-tooth using blockly and/or JavaScript to make it run, is far more important that just instructing robots to move around a room.

So, the big question is: How does a fulltime classroom teacher and technology novice, implement the Digital Technologies Curriculum?

Here are my tips:

  • Familiarise yourself with the curriculum
  • decode the language and its meaning

These defi nitions will help to get you started:

Branching – Creating or using an algorithm that involves choice eg. creating a selection using Hyperlinks.

Iteration – A set of repeated instructions used within programming.

‘Loop’ Statements – A repetition of a code through a control statement eg. making a computer game character run continuously.

‘If’ Statements – A conditional statement used in coding eg. ‘if’ the object touches a wall, it will change direction.

Peripheral Devices – Non-essential computer components eg. digital cameras, printers and scanners.

You do not have to use technology to teach it.

For example, writing a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story is an example of branching. You could also conduct a lesson on how WiFi works or give your students some reading on a topic.

  • Create a scope and sequence of what needs to be covered and select small parts to teach.
  • Use a program such as Edmodo, which will cater for numerous  strands of the curriculum, such as blogging, communicating and collaborating online, as well adhering to agreed protocols.
  • Involve your students in ‘The Hour of Code’ (www.hourofcode.org), which teaches the fundamentals of coding.

Hint: my kids enjoyed ‘The Hour of Code Minecraft’ and ‘Star Wars’ the best!

Consider purchasing a school set of robotics such as Sphero SPRK+. They are fun and easy to use, and teach students how to use blockly and JavaScript.

Hint: tablets and an app are needed to use Sphero optimally, but there are other companies that create robots that do not need an app.

Have fun and don’t forget that it is normal to make mistakes. Enjoy learning with your kids – it’s an exciting time to be a teacher!