In November 2014, I helped organize the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) in Brussels, Belgium on Nov 6 and 7th, 2014 on behalf of European Schoolnet and the European Commission. The theme of the forum was “Growing up Digitally” and more than 260 stakeholders in the field of child online safety from approximately 40 countries around the globe attended the event.
Rather than go and on about the event, I invite you to read a fabulous blog post describing the forum by Doug Belshaw, Web Literacy Lead for Mozilla, so that I can cut to the chase and speak about coding.
I was so fortunate to have discussions with key players in coding, like Koen Pelligrims of CoderDojo (in English) and Pauline Maas (read only if your Dutch is up to speed). Koen and Pauline are not just super experts in coding for kids, but their enthusiasm is so contagious that I have begun coding sessions for my children.
Even if you are not based in Europe, your children can benefit from these experts’ insights:
1. Coding is for everyone.
Boys and girls are incited to begin coding as the world is becoming more and digital and it pays to understand the basics. The United Nations (via the ITU – Information Technology Union) has even stepped in to make sure that girls around the globe are thinking about technology. Check out the fun things that Toronto does for women and girls.
2. Coding is at any age.
Obviously, I’m not talking about babies, but if you have a 5 year old ready to go, then an app like Kodable may be just what you’re looking for. With a tagline like “learn to code before you read,” you can definitely feel the enthusiasm. If that’s a bit much for you, you can wait until a more reasonable 7 years old and try Tynker. I heard a lot about Cato and Scratch during the SIF and I plan to get my little ones started with Scratch after I read the info put out by MIT Media Lab for parents.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have coding for seniors. (BTW, just an aside, here in France, a senior is over 45 – ouch.) Learn Code offers tutorials for beginners aged 4-104.
3. Coding is for politicians too.
I couldn't resist, as Obama became the first president to write a computer program.
4. You’ll be doing your civic duty.
See video where Obama asks America to learn computer science.
5. Coding is fun.
And perhaps more importantly, creating something is just plain fun. Whether you are coding or creating or assembling technology, the idea is to have fun. One last fun coding tip is Kano, the computer you can make yourself. Kano is heralded as the “DIY computer kit designed to help people of all ages assemble a computer from scratch and learn basic coding skills.” It’s relatively inexpensive and is said to be as easy to put together as Legos.
Perhaps my next blog post will contain snippets of code created by my 8 year old on his Kano!
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.