Digital Directions - Summer 2013 - (Page 28)

<--Educators develop creative ways to teach coding through gaming--> By_Michelle R. Davis Photos by_Matt Roth for Digital Directions S outh Hills High School teacher Saleta Thomas bills her class as a digital game-design program for students. But once students opt to take the class, they start learning computer coding through basic programs like Alice, then move on to Flash, JavaScript, ActionScript, and other coding languages. Since the students in the Fort Worth, Texas, school are focused on digital-game creation, often they don’t even realize they’re learning computer coding, Thomas says. The “marketing” ploy of labeling the course digitalgame design has had an impact, she says. Computer science wasn’t a popular course at the low-income school, which has struggled over the past few years to bring test scores up, but the digital-gaming elective has gone from 22 students its first year to 45 this school year, and 81 are projected for the next school year. “If we get the hook into them through gaming, then when they go to college they can see there’s a whole lot more offered in computer science,” Thomas says. “If you major in computer science, your world is really open.” Computer programmers and software engineers are urging that K-12 students be 28 >> introduced to computer coding—designing and writing source code for computers— earlier in their educational careers, even as early as elementary school. According to the organization, which seeks to raise awareness about the need for students to learn computer coding, 1.4 million jobs in the computer field, including coding, engineering, and data mining, will be available in the United States by 2020, but there will be only 400,000 college students majoring in computer science. Those jobs come with significantly higher wages than jobs associated with many other college degrees.The starting salary for a 2013 computer science major is about $64,800, a 5 percent increase over the previous year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, based in Bethlehem, Pa., which tracks starting salaries for college graduates. But a majority of K-12 schools don’t offer computer science programs, and the number of computer science students in college has fallen, according to, even though coding experiences for K-12 students are important not just from a career perspective, but also from a purely educational perspective, says Mitchel Resnick, a professor of learning research at the MIT Media Lab. The lab has created Scratch, a Michael Craddock, a computer science teacher at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Va., writes computer code on a plexiglass sheet. Craddock supervises a CoderDojo club for students once a month.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Digital Directions - Summer 2013

Digital Directions - Summer 2013
Editor’s Note
DD Site Visit
Bits & Bytes
Test-Driving the Common Core
Flipped PD: Building Blocks to Success
Virtual Learning in the Early Years
Kindergarten the Virtual Way
7 Steps to Picking Your LMS
Cracking the Code
Powering the Crowd

Digital Directions - Summer 2013