I've always loved using and integrating technology into my teaching and curriculum. It seemed to come more naturally to me than other teachers, and I noticed right away how my students engaged with it more willingly than other styles of instruction. I knew there was a right and a wrong way to go about teaching with software programs, but I didn't always understand where that line was.
"Computer science remains one of the fastest growing industries across the world and preparing the future workforce is critical for economic success (2017)." The NMC/CoSN Horizon report 2017 K-12 edition helped open my eyes to the true value of coding as a literacy. I knew of a few teachers who taught coding in their computer lab time and I had thoughts like yeah, that's fun and all, but there are other ways to use that lab time that's more meaningful to my teaching. I'm ashamed of myself now. If my main teaching goal is to prepare my students for a successful future as a contributing member of society, and it is, then surely introducing and encouraging students to play with coding helps reach that goal.
My teaching philosophy has always centered around a Constructivist approach, with hands on learning and exploration, with group collaborative projects, with self-discovery and intrinsic motivation. Sure, there are times when this seems hard to accomplish all my teaching criteria through that lens, but there was something in the report that took hold of my heart when it said, "Developing the future workforce is important, but coding literacy at its base level can also help students build transferable skills. Using tools such as the programming language Scratch, students have an avenue for innovation, invention, and creative expression." Wow- teaching students creative expression through coding too? I'd never thought of it that way, but now it rings so clearly in my mind. This goes hand-in-hand with another class I'm currently taking that is solely focused on using Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom. There is a coding aspect within the game that students love so much. The teacher has shown us ways to use minecraft as a medium for group collaboration, problem-solving, and creation. If I'm allowing my students the ability to learn these life-skills in an applicable way for their real future, then I feel like I'm doing my job.
So the Horizon report has informed my teaching by changing my views on coding in the classroom setting. It's not just for the future computer science majors, it is for everyone. It will be needed more and more in the future innovative world, and children can begin learning it at age four! Not only will everyone benefit from the ability to code, they will benefit from the repercussions of learning to problem-solve with a team, create an original idea or concept, or take constructive feedback and reflect.
Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., and Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.