We sat down with our Head of Digital Technologies and e-Learning Mr Phil Carew to gain his insight about coding and the type of careers you can have in this field.
What coding language do we use? How do they all differ?
Mr Carew: “At Toorak College we use a range of different programming languages to allow students to build and develop skills across a range of platforms. Our students code in a variety of ways, including less traditional ways, for example, by using Spheros and Lego Mindstorms.
It is important for students to start with the basics to understand the principles behind coding. Students in Junior School use Scratch Jnr and Scratch; a user friendly platform that allows them to learn the fundamental principles and logic behind programming without having to write detailed code. Senior School students are introduced to more advanced programming languages including Python. This is where they can take ideas and put them into practice by writing code to create a choose your own adventure game and develop an understanding of specific programming skills and terminology such as variables, inputs, loops and else if statements.
The programming languages that we focus on differ in levels of difficulty and what they can do. We start with the foundations and then move to industry standard applications. Our students build upon their skills as they move throughout the school.”
How did coding evolve at Toorak? How do our students learn to code?
“Coding at Toorak College has evolved and developed a great deal in the past four years since the DIGI Zone was created in 2015.
In STEM-X classes, students in Prep and Year 1 are introduced to sequencing by using the Bee Bots and the Codeapillar. Year 2 and 3 students use the Scratch Jnr app to learn how to code using drag and drop block coding. Year 4 students use Scratch to build a game that links to the book ‘The Shoes of Abu Kassim’ and also learn how to code using the spheros - a robotic ball controlled through smartphones and tablets. In Year 5, students are introduced to Lego Mindstorms, a programmable robot that they can build, design and code.
As part of CS in Schools, students in Year 7 use the Python programming language. Python is an industry standard language that allows our students to build skills that can be transferable to the real world. CS in Schools is a philanthropic initiative at RMIT University focused on helping teachers confidently teach computer science to high school students in Victoria. It is a great privilege to be working with CS in Schools and it highlights our commitment to supporting student growth, digital skills and real world applications.
At the end of each year during Computer Science Education Week, students in Years 5-7 complete the Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science aiming to show that anybody can code and learn the basics to broaden participation in the field of computer science. Over the past few years since its inception in 2014, the Hour of Code has reached millions of students in 180+ countries.
Students in Years 5-7 also complete the Bebras Computational Thinking challenge each year to promote Computational Thinking. The tasks are related to digital technology concepts and are aligned with, and support information and communication technology curricula across Australia. To solve the tasks, students are required to think in and about digital technologies, discrete structures, computation, data processing, and algorithmic concepts.”
What careers can coding give you? Are they long lasting careers or just a 'digital fad'?
“Coding is far more than a ‘digital fad’. Software Development is a booming industry and every single online platform we log into (from our school intranet to Facebook) requires developers to write code to build and maintain it.
Having a fundamental understanding of programming is a huge advantage for our students working in any digital space across any industry. Coding supports and teaches a range of important skills outside of the technology world including problem solving, creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy. These important skills are transferable to any subject area. App development is another growing area as is traditional software development, for example programs in the Adobe CC suite or even computer games.”
In Term 2, Mr Carew will be running a Coding DIGI Quest for students in Years 5-8. Please click the Join DIGI Quest Coding tab below. More details will be posted on iVE at the start of Term 2.