2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year for parents, educators and students. Learning in a traditional classroom setting seems like a distant memory, and in addition to these societal changes, the Ontario public education system has faced a series of policy and curriculum updates that don’t just impact what’s taught, but also how.
This past June, the Ford government announced a new elementary math curriculum in an effort to modernize the provincial approach to mathematics, financial literacy, and technology. We were excited to see that coding was included in the new curriculum, because it’s also an integral aspect of our game, Super Code Strike. But, anyone unfamiliar with coding may be left feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of teaching it in a classroom, or at home.
Put simply, coding is how humans tell computers what to do. Code is the language we understand that gets translated to binary, which is what computers understand. Super Code Strike uses visual, block based coding, also known as blockly. Advanced computer coding is quite complex, but the new Ontario curriculum covers the basics (like blockly); which consists of concepts that can often be applied to both programming, and everyday life.
An example of one easy to recognize concept is an algorithm, a set of instructions given in order to complete a certain task and produce a desired outcome. For example: before you get dressed, you may lay your clothes out on your bed to make sure you’ve got everything you need to get your desired result (a great looking outfit!), this creates a simple algorithm.
Before putting the clothes on, you'll figure out which items to put on first in order to avoid inefficiencies, thus creating an ideal sequence. Now, if you were to write out this sequence with at least one step in the wrong order, anyone following it would realize there was an error in the sequence when they ended up with their underwear over their jeans. That person would then have to figure out how to fix the problem to complete their task (looking fly), this is an example of debugging. This same logic applies to computer coding, and it’s how players learn to code through game play.
Once these relationships become clearer, the benefits of learning to code go far beyond a career in the computer sciences. Players are also working on problem solving, critical thinking, as well as enhancing reasoning, organization and planning, all of which can be reapplied to other elements of life and in our case, gameplay. There are great online resources available for teachers just beginning their coding journeys, here are a few that we love: CommonSense.Org: Getting Started with Coding in the Classroom, you can join Scratch by MIT Lab which is free for kids and adults and Canada Learning Code hosts free workshops that are targeted to different demographics and skill levels. Of course Super Code Strike is also another amazing way to engage kids in learning how to code, and if you want to sign up to be a beta tester you can do so here: https://www.supercodestrike.com/beta-testing
Although you may not feel like you’re familiar with even the most basic of computer coding concepts the truth is that we all are, because those concepts are a part of our everyday lives. Bringing coding into our provincial public education curriculum is a great step towards preparing our kids to make the most of technology in a safe environment.