Originally I thought that it would be hard to keep a young person interested in coding for that amount of time each week after a day in school. After another successful Code Club lesson I have come to realise that one hour flies by way too fast. Children learning to move sprites, changing sprite colours, changing sprite sizes whilst getting their heads around X/Y co-ordinates and learning loops makes for a fast lesson.
Part of the reason I think it works so well is Scratch. An interactive piece of software that allows for coding to be created by piecing together blocks (like connecting Lego bricks to eventually make a car), with an easy to learn interface that is also fun. Harking back to my first blog post; my first programming experiences (as a kid in the ’90s) were with Basic. Basic sounds easier (and once you grasp logic gates and variables it kind of is) but it does not come by default with a nice GUI or a cat that is willing to do 360 degree spins in a matter of clicks.
The other reason? Brilliant resources. Somewhere along the way computer coding moved away from magazines printing pages of code that eventually makes a game to being hidden away in computer science courses or books that are very heavy. Thankfully in the last few years the times have changed. Online learning courses, free coding resources, free coding/computing magazines and an extremely large bunch of volunteers willing to give their time to help the next generation learn.
Seriously, it is amazing how many people are out there producing resources and giving time.
I recently read a news article stating that the (Welsh) government is looking to fund more coding clubs (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-40264545) – more code clubs for people that want to code; always a great thing.
I also read an opinion piece on the Independent from Benjamin Wohl (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/coding-the-curriculum-new-computer-science-gcse-fails-to-make-the-grade-a7808171.html). I agree that pupils need more than 1hr a week coding to be great at coding, but that is where voluntary learning comes in. Not homework. Not more lessons that target curriculam based targets. Fun learning via coding communites that inspire young people to learn. Make coding fun and kids will want to learn it.