Education Week: Computer Programming Goes Back to School

Learning programming introduces students to solving problems, designing applications, and making connections online.We are witnessing a remarkable comeback of computer programming in schools. In the 1980s, many schools featured Basic, Logo, or Pascal programming computer labs that students typically visited once a week as an introduction to the discipline. But, by the mid-1990s, schools had largely turned away from programming. In large part, such decline stemmed from a lack of subject-matter integration and a dearth of qualified instructors. Yet there was also the question of purpose. With the rise of preassembled multimedia packages via glossy CD-ROMs over the 1990s, who wanted to toil over syntax typos and debugging problems by creating these applications oneself? This question alone seemingly negated the need to learn programming in school, compounded by the excitement generated by the Internet. Schools started teaching students how to best surf the web rather than how to delve into it and understand how it actually works. Schools largely forgot about programming, some deeming it entirely unnecessary and others labeling it too difficult to teach and learn.But this is changing. In the past five years, we’ve seen a new-found interest in bringing back learning and teaching programming on all K-12 levels. But it’s digitally based youth cultures, not schools, leading this revival Kafai & Peppler, 2011. Computers seem to be accessible everywhere, particularly outside school, where children and youth are innovating with technology — often with hand-held devices — to create their own video games, interactive art projects, and even their own programmable clothes through electronic textiles. What’s more, the same computers on which they create these items connect them to wider networks of other young users who share common interests and a similar commitment to connecting through making. See more at Education Week: Computer Programming Goes Back to School.

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