Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Learn Coding Like Learning New Languages

Estonia is implementing a new education program that will have 100 percent of publicly educated students learning to write code. Called ProgeTiiger, the new initiative aims to turn children from avid consumers of technology  into developers of technology.

So maybe you are like us asking : before our governments have computer programming courses integrated into the K12 curriculum, is there any help we can use? Programming is just writing in the language of computers, so why not teach kids to code like we teach them to write? Here are the searching :

Forget Romance: Teach Me Ruby! (from EdWeek)

“Give a man* an iPad App and he will be stimulated for a day; teach a man* to code and he will be stimulated for a lifetime.” -Unknown

The most renowned of these programs is likely Codecademy, which has been endorsed by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Codecademy is a very interesting solution for learners of any age to get a taste for the flavor of coding, as they can easily pick up where they left off on the platform from any location, and the platform itself is user-friendly and easily understood.

CodeSchool offers a series of videos and challenges to help you strengthen your coding chops. Then there’s the School of Webcraft which offers Mozilla’s Open Badging Platform. Another cool new startup I have spoken with a bit is a company called Tynker (still in Alpha), which is looking to teach kids to write their own app on iOS.

Until the K-12 landscape wises up, gets its act together, and starts incorporating real coding into the standard curriculum (the younger the better), Ed-Tech vendors will continue to shoulder the load. Supplemental courses like Globaloria have the power to introduce legions of children to the skills that will drive the next generation workforce. Let’s hope the decision makers at districts across the country are taking note…

Should Kids Learn to Code in Grade School?(from MindShift)

Programming is just writing in the language of computers, so why not teach kids to code like we teach them to write?
It’s already being done, and not surprisingly, in Silicon Valley. Last school year, two very different public schools introduced programming to elementary age students. In the high-performing affluent Los Altos School District, all sixth graders (approximately 500 students) learned to code in a required weekly class. Student feedback showed that girls were just as interested in programming as boys. Turns out that special girls-only programs are unnecessary at this stage because the stereotypes may not have yet set in. (Check out the games built by students, and learn more about STEM, Computer Science education and more on Los Altos School District site)

kids learn to code

Why play when you can code? MakeGamesWithUs breeds next generation of gaming prodigies (from VentureBeat)

A startup called MakeGamesWithUs is elevating this type of adolescent undertaking by teaching high school and college kids how to build iPhone games.

MakeGamesWithUs graduated from the YCombinator Winter 2012 and just launched its first social game in the AppStore. On the website, students take project-based tutorials that focus on hands-on, practical experience, rather than theory. Once they feel confident in their iPhone game development skills, they can begin building original games.

Students can engage with the MakesGamesWithUs community during the development process to get help, give/receive feedback, nurture ideas, and troubleshoot problems. As it nears completion, the MakeGamesWithUs team will incorporate professional art and music, help with debugging, and assist in adding trickier features. When the game is ready, MakeGamesWithUs will publish and promote the games for a share of the revenue.


Squad is a web-based collaborative code editor.Open, edit and share code in real time. (could be useful for online tutoring)

A long list of useful websites from Coding for Kids Wiki page

(Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike)

Coding for Kids is a very badly named community of people interested in furthering the programming education of kids, parents and teachers in the UK. It started with a cup of tea in Spring, then it became a barcamp in the Summer, then it became a community on the 12th October 2011.

Important blog entries

Emma Mulqueeny on How to initiate kids (or anyone) in coding
Anna Debenham on coding in schools
Anna Debenham on Running code workshops in schools
A new IT GCSE is in development
Leading tech firms launch programmes in London to inspire youngsters
post about learning by the Mozilla Foundation
Keri Facer, Manchester Metropolitan University – ‘BBC Micro Project
Emma Mulqueeny guest post on Cabinet Office blog [1]
Don Box on Teaching my kids to program
John Graham-Cumming on Teach our kids to code

Campaigning organisations

Computing at School (their wiki) : Grass roots organisation campaigning about teaching computing in UK schools (part of the British Computer Society)
CoderDojo : Network of programming clubs for young people.
CodeClub : Looking for volunteers to teach programming in UK schools.

Onsite training

Apps for Good : From CDI_Europe

Online programming resources

Wikipedia list of educational programming languages
W3Schools : Online training for a large number of computer languages (not the best resource there is see W3Fools)
HTML5 Doctor : Excellent resource for HTML5
Try Ruby : Learn Ruby in your web browser
Google Code University : Google HTML, CSS and JavaScript University
Google’s online Android App Builder
Hackassaurus : Web page creator
Scratch from MIT : Code games or art easily online
Alice : A 3D story building programming environment
Greenfoot : Visual tool to teach the Java language
Happy Fun Coding : Learn to program games in Javascript
Stencyl : Learn to write games in using Flash
PixieEngine : Create games online
Play My Code : Online game creator
Code Academy : Learn to code online with your friends and track your progress against theirs!
Open Classroom : Open Classroom from Stanford University
MIT STEP : Scheller Teacher Education Program at MIT (blog, several projects, etc)
Project Euler : Interesting computing challenges
Openbook Project : A set of lessons to learn Python
Codingbat : Java and Python exercises
YOUSRC : YOUSRC free learn-to-code resource
App Inventor Mobile development for Android phones
Waterbear Browser based visual programming framework for multiple real world programming languages (javascript, arduino) Alpha
If This Then That
Dick Baldwin : Computer Programming for Homeschool Students and Other Beginners
JSDabbler: A free online playground for learning programming with Javascript as a first language. Learn Python: A short beginner’s class in programming using python.

Material from Mark Guzdial at Georgia Tech Guzdial’s work is designed for university undergraduates, but has some interesting implications for teaching younger students. Comes in both Java-flavored and Python-flavored versions.
Outline from a virtual worlds course taught by Anthony Hursh at the University of Illinois (designed for working teachers who might not themselves be programmers or computer science specialists).
Academic Earth : Computer Science on Academic Earth

Free downloadable software

Edubuntu : A version of the very popular Ubuntu OS designed for education
Kids Ruby : Learn the Ruby programming language
Etoys from Squeakland : A visual code environment for young children
Sugar : Collaborative learning system via One Laptop Per Child
Hackety-Hack : Learn the Ruby language
Stagecast : Build your own games
Kojo : Download and learn programming, maths, science and art
Processing : Create complex works of art
Colobot : Teachers programming through gameplay
Unity 3D : Build high quality games
Edusim 3D electronic whiteboard software
SmallBasic : Child friendly programming language from Microsoft
Kodu Visual programming language for games
Blender Game Engine 3D games design with visual and python interfaces</br> DreamSpark : Microsoft tools and projects – Kinect SDK, Windows SDK & emulator, Kodu, .NET Gadgeteer …
Hackety Hack Programming for kids from the legendary (and sorely missed) Why the Lucky Stiff , it’s an open source application that teaches the basics of programming in the popular Ruby language.
The Inform 7 system for creating interactive fiction
Linden Scripting Language This is used for controlling Second Life/Open Sim. It’s an ugly language (even its designer agrees 🙂 but lets you do some really powerful and impressive things.
Open Simulator Free server software that is more-or-less compatible with Second Life. Useful with Linden Scripting Language, above.
Open Cobalt Peer-to-peer based virtual world software (i.e., does not need a dedicated server).
Open Wonderland This is a Java-based 3D virtual world.
The Monkey Programming Language from the creator of Blitz Basic. The language can target multiple platforms, including HTML5, Android and iOS.
Toontalk a visual programming language in a videogame style used also by kindergarteners.
AgentSheets a visual programming language for animation and interactive worlds.
Stagecast a visual programming language for animation and interactive worlds.


@kidsruby : Kids Ruby


The Young Programmers Podcast


Interview with Emma Mulqueeny at first CfKs barcamp
Interview with Hannah and Charlotte at CfKs barcamp
Interview with Kirsten Campbell-Howes at CfKs barcamp
Interview with Katy Beale at CfKs barcamp
Interview with Daniel Appelquist at CfKs barcamp


Program or Be Programmed : Douglas Rushkoff

Newspapers and Magazines

Scrunchup : A web developer magazine for young people
Times Ed forum on ICT


Primer : A code-writing action game


LEGO Mindstorms : Easily build your own hardware and write drag-and-drop software to control it
Raspberrypi : An ARM based Linux computer for £20
Picoboard : Allows hardware connection to Scratch
.NET Gadgeteer kit.NET Gadgeteer
Arduino : Open source hardware (PDF comic intro), it’s an open-source electronics prototyping platform with both hardware and software components.

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5 Responses »

  1. And as well to learn Ruby, Python, and JavaScript for free.

  2. Yes, all students should learn to Code. Fortunately, I was taught Basic. Unfortunately I was not taught more languages. Today I’m learning Objective C, so I can teach it to my son. I don’t know who first said it, but I like it “program or be programed!”

    • We are figuring to use Stencyl as a tool to facilitate game-based learning and logical thinking exercise with fun. You can publish apps or just play the game you design in browser. Are you interested to explore more? Should be good to learn together with you son…


  1. Estonian schools teach kids to code from 1. grade « Constructing Kids
  2. Computational Thinking: A Digital Age Skill for All | Classroom Aid

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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