KillerSites Blog

Archives

Scratch is not Coding

August 25, 2016
Scratch block
Scratch block

Schools are looking for ways to introduce coding into the classroom, and they have been told that dragging blocks on a screen is coding.

The most popular of these visual ‘code’ teaching tools, is an app called Scratch. The problem is, Scratch is not coding.

Here is a sample of some actual code – a little JavaScript:

function myFunction(p1, p2) {
     return p1 * p2;           
 }

var person = {
    firstName:"John",
    lastName:"Doe",
    age:50,
    eyeColor:"blue"
}; 

Or how about some CSS3 code:

div {
    width: 300px;
    border: 25px solid green;
    padding: 25px;
    margin: 25px;
}

Now compare that above code snippets to the Scratch ‘code’ block in the top right.

Now as an educator, I ask myself if students will see the relationship between the Scratch block, with actual code? I personally don’t see it.

scratch cat
Scratch cat

A place for Scratch in a Code Curriculum

You could argue that Scratch is very simple programming, since you are controlling the character on screen with a series of commands. But given that nobody uses Scratch to do anything in the real world, why not teach students true programming and coding languages? With the right courses, lessons and supporting software, you can!

That said, Scratch can be used for elementary students in the 4-5th grade or younger, perhaps to introduce some basic coding concepts to students. But, I feel this will have a limited impact. Why?

Writing Real Code helps Internalize Concepts

I have been teaching code since 2003, and one thing that experience has taught me, is that the writing of actual code has a powerful impact in terms of understanding and internalizing coding concepts. It’s important to have students break out the code editor (a tool that coders use) and write code, break code and build actual projects.

… When students see their code come to life in real things, you will see their engagement skyrocket.

Hope this is helpful,

Stefan Mischook
StudioWeb.com

read more

Teaching Code in a Home School Setting

August 24, 2016

studioweb-html-iconEveryone knows that kids who learn to code, will have a big advantage in the workplace and in life. Besides the fact that coding is a valuable skillset with an amazing number of high paying jobs, the mental training that comes with learning to code cannot be underestimated.

Homeschooling your kids in code

If you don’t know web design and coding, you need a structured curriculum that will gently teach your kids. Courses have to be easy to understand, fun and practical. Yes, practical: nothing motivates kids to learn when they see that they are building real things.

… What’s more fun for a kid, to learn to drive a go-cart, or a real car?

Which coding languages should kids learn?

Teaching your kids to code in any language is great, but I would say the most important and effective languages to teach are the languages of the Web:

  1. HTML5
  2. CSS3
  3. JavaScript

Besides being used to create all the world’s websites and web apps (ex: google, facebook, amazon), these coding languages are also a popular choice in creating games and mobile apps that work on iPhone, iPads, Android devices and even Windows mobile devices.

Another great thing about these languages is that they are visual: students see their code come to life in real-world projects. This touch of reality is far more engaging than writing code that moves a character around a screen in a simulator.

Conclusion

I’ve been coding since 1994, teaching code since 2003 and helping schools teach code over the last 6 years. That experience teaches you a lot about teaching. If you want to easily home school your kids in code, feel free to check out StudioWeb.com.

Thanks!

Stefan Mischook

read more

My book tweeted at me

August 13, 2016

Hi,

Some of you know, that I wrote a book last year. Sales are actually increasing. I like it when someone tweets a photo of my book:

web design start here book

You can pick it up on Amazon.

Thanks,

Stefan

read more

What Pokémon Go can teach coders

July 24, 2016

Hi!

In this video, I use the fantabulous example of Pokémon Go, to illustrate key app development principles. Here you go:

Thanks!

Stefan Mischook
Killersites.com

read more

The future of IT industry.

July 20, 2016

Hi!

I got this question today:

Stefan, could you make a video about the future of IT industry? Many people say, that programmers are gonna disappear pretty soon as artificial intelligence will be able to solve programming tasks. What is your opinion?

My answer:

AI has problems with figuring out context in a sentence – so I wouldn’t worry too much. That said, in time it will happen, and when it does (10-20yrs?) … there will be super advanced robotics as well, and super advanced renewable energy.

A massive change in society altogether

So that would suggest to me (if we keep the politicians in check) a society where resources are nearly unlimited. They’re will be no need to work, as there will be plenty for all. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ve already seen a huge upheaval in society with the industrial revolution, where the whole human context was changed dramatically. It will happen again when AI, renewable energy and robotics hit the tipping point.

… So don’t worry about AI taking your coding jobs. When AI can code, the whole world will change for the better.

Stef

read more

Top 3 Code Teaching / Learning Tips

April 14, 2016

SQL code training badge

To get the best outcomes with students (and yourself!), here are my top 3 code teaching tips:

1- Write real code, not ‘lego’ code.
2- Use real coding tools, not code simulators.
3- Build real projects from start to finish.

1. Write real code, not ‘lego’ code

A funny thing happens when students write real code: they start to learn not only how to code, but they learn the concepts behind the code. What I’ve seen over the years is that trying to hide the code from students with block based code teaching tools slows the learning process.

You have to write code to learn to code.

Read more

read more

Should kids learn coding instead of foreign languages?

February 16, 2016

I was reading an article on the debate in Florida, whether to allow kids to learn code instead of a foreign language. I can offer some perspective here, since I am a coder who speaks English and French.

What has been more valuable in my life: knowing French, or knowing how to code?

Coding has easily been the most valuable skill for me.

But if my second language was English (rather than French,) maybe the tables would be turned. I say this because though French is a great language, and I think the more spoken languages you know the better, French has limited use on the world’s stage. English though, is the language of business … it is a must learn.

Coding is much more like English, it too is an international language of sorts. Knowing how to code has many positive impacts on your life, even if you don’t become a coder!

– See more at: Studioweb.com

Thanks,

Stefan Mischook

read more