Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coding + Librarians: Why it makes perfect sense.

Why are so many Teacher Librarians interested in the Hour of Code?  What role does the library play in the world of computer programming?  What is this coding junk anyway?



I've been thinking a lot about programming lately, and why so many of us are interested in the idea of getting our students involved in coding.  I'm realizing there are so many connections to our main library mission, it's no wonder so many of us have grabbed onto the idea as soon as we heard about it.

Access
Librarians are all about access.  Access to information, access to ideas, and access to knowledge. We know that "Information is Power" in every sense - and making sure our patrons, our students, have access to that information and that power is essential to our mission. As computer programming becomes more and more a language of power, it becomes our duty to ensure that students have access to that power. Programs like the Hour of Code and the multitude of learn-to-code websites and apps available now mean it is easier than ever for us to make computer programming accessible for our students.

Literacy
Computer programming languages are a "new" form of literacy.  Sure, they've been around for decades, but now these languages are pervasive and easier than ever to learn. We want our students to be literate readers, researchers, media consumers, and creators. Coding becomes a new part of their literacy.

From Consumers to Creators

As President Obama mentions in the video below, our society as a whole is moving away from simply consuming knowledge and moving towards more people creating and adding to the body of knowledge in the world.


As Librarians, we understand perfectly what it means to not just locate, evaluate, and use information, but how to encourage students to take that information, make something new and meaningful from it, and share it with a wider audience. We are always working to take students from "reporting" facts to the next level of creating new knowledge.  It's the ultimate democratic idea.


Technology Integration
Perhaps the most obvious connection between coding and Teacher Librarians is that coding sits firmly in our technology realm. In most schools, the Teacher Librarian is the tech expert, the tech support, and the tech integrationist. We help teachers find the right tools to solve their instructional needs, and help students use technology to enhance their learning. Coding has become another tool available for teachers and students.


Still not convinced?  
Visit Code.org to see how unexpectedly easy it is to get started teaching your students how to code.  I promise, you don't have to know ANYTHING about coding except what was in that first video above before you start. 

Code.org has even developed a FREE 20-hour coding curriculum for K-5 that takes students through the steps of learning to code with videos, tutorials, and games. The first levels don't even require students to be able to read, so Kinders and other early readers can still learn. 

Through the curriculum and games, students will learn vocabulary, problem solving, logic, and persistence. Oh yeah, and how to code.