A new free platform for children as young as kindergartners to learn online about computer science is now available, courtesy of Seattle-based nonprofit Code.org.
Code Studio, as the new initiative is known, “combines a web-based learning environment for classrooms with a nationwide network of free professional development workshops to help teachers integrate the system into their curriculum,” according to a press release from the group. The platform will feature a mix of online tutorials, video lectures and game-based activities aimed at helping students learn the nuts and bolts of computer programming and build portfolios of their own work.
Coding and computer science instruction for K-12 schools have become hot topics in recent years, with states and districts increasingly allowing related courses to count for math and science credit; making such coursework part of a core curriculum, even for elementary students; and being forced to confront huge race and gender gaps in participation on the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam. Launched in 2013 with support from various foundations and industry, Code.org has quickly gained attention for initiatives such as its Hour of Code campaign, which seemingly aims to “make code-writing cool,” according to my colleague Liana Heitin in this 2013 piece.
Some have criticized the group as primarily a vehicle for corporations to sell more technology to schools and for its approach to collecting and storing the personal data of participating students.
Regarding the new Code Studio initiative, “our hope is that all students will now have access to learn about the inner workings of the software technology that increasingly runs the world around us,” said Hadi Patrovi, the organization’s founder, in the release.
Information for students and teachers interested in signing up for Code Studio is available here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.