Learning with Code

As technology becomes increasingly more prevalent in our lives, it is inaccurate to assume that literacy and numeracy skills will be enough to be literate in the 21st century. With this in mind, the Victorian Government launched a new digital technologies initiative into the Victorian curriculum at the end of 2016 – that of digital coding. This is to ensure that Victorian students are better equipped to deal with our ever-changing technological world. Combined with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), digital coding is set to revolutionise Victoria’s teaching curriculum – appropriate as we are known as the Education State after all.

One Australian school that has been at the forefront of digital curriculum innovation for years is Berwick Lodge Primary School. Principal Henry Grossek (with the help of some very enthusiast staff members) formed a whole school robotics program several years ago. This program ensured students across the school learnt how to read and write code using Lego robots and NXT software designed to program robots to perform various functions. Teaming up with Glendal Primary School ultimately lead to students from both schools representing Australia at national and international robotics competitions – and subsequently coming home with the world number one First Lego League competition trophy. No mean feat considering the children were competing against secondary school students, too.

So, what is code and how does it befit our children’s learning outcomes? Let us consider this metaphor as an example of how coding works. Imagine a train and its driver. In this example, the train is the computer and the driver is the code. A train (the computer) can only move along the tracks if the driver (the code) tells it to. Without a driver, there is no moving train thus without a code, there is no working computer or program. The driver, however, can go anywhere. Like the driver, code is free to be what it wants to be and to go where it wants to go.

There are millions of codes and ways to write it. It ranges from basic to complex, but all coding language promotes logical thinking, creativity and problem solving. Like being able to read, write and do maths, coding promotes essential attributes that will help children develop their leaning across the curriculum and throughout their lives in the 21st century.