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In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the importance of students learning coding, or programming, so they are not limited by the restrictions of commercially available apps and templates; are able to exercise greater control over their own self-expression and communication online; and are able to contribute as creative producers and not just consumers to the digital ecosystem.

Computational thinking

Prior to beginning to learn coding, students may be introduced to computational thinking, a way of thinking which involves creative problem solving. The entry of this notion into school education has been described as follows:

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It has been suggested that it is important to begin introducing learners to computational thinking from an early age: "As computational devices, and the algorithms that drive them, become more pervasive in children’s lives, it becomes necessary to empower all children with the understanding and confidence not only to navigate their environment but to shape it" (Manches, A., & Plowman, L. (2015). Computing education in children's early years: A call for debate. British Journal of Educational Technology [early view], p.9).

Learning computational thinking & coding

Basic computer programming for children (from kindergarten to grade 3) can be practised on The Foos site. There is also a Bee-Bots app which can be used by young learners instead of, or in addition to, Bee-Bot robots. Based on a simplified programming language, Scratch Jr is an app which helps children (aged 5-7) learning coding.

For practical exercises on computational thinking aimed at older school students, check out Bebras and Blockly Games. CS Unplugged provides free paper-based resources for teaching computational thinking. The original Scratch may be also used by older children. Raspberry Pi is a small computer which can be used by children to learn programming.

Global initiatives which help participants to learn coding include Codecademy (which offers interactive programming courses) and Mozilla's Webmaker programme (which focuses on web literacy and design). CoderDojo is an international movement of school- and community-based coding clubs.

For more resources, see Common Sense Media's (2015) Cool Tools to Help Kids Learn to Code, the apps listed in Common Sense Media's Hour of Code Collection, and the full website. More information is available under computational thinking and also code literacy on the E-learning references page.

Credits: The image at the top of the page is drawn from MIT's Scratch website. Thanks for the Bebras, Foos, Code links are due to Eunice Sari.

Contact: There's no such thing as a finished wiki. Like all wikis, this one is a work in progress and there will be changes from time to time in organisation, content and links. However, don't let that stop you from contacting me at any time with comments, suggestions or questions.