Coding

Block-Based and Text-Based Coding: Choosing the Right Course

What’s all the fuss about coding, you may ask. We are living in a tech-driven world, which seems to be changing at the speed of light. As a result, coding has become an essential skill. It’s no longer limited to a software engineer or a data scientist, it has now become a creator’s most sought-after tool. It is what gives them an edge over other creators, and, at the same time, supports their system. No wonder it has aroused the interest of educators too. To equip the next generation with future-ready skills, coding might just be a great start. This article explores why that is.

Parents anticipated it. Slowly but surely schools have started noticing it, too. The New Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 has announced the initiation of coding classes for students from class 6 onwards. However, because of the unprecedented challenge set by Pandemic, parents & formal educators hardly got any opportunity to do their homework on the coding curriculum. This is where the ed-tech giants stepped in and promised to fill the gap. So, the parents had to expose kids to the world of coding without actually knowing what to expect out of it. While some parents fell for the marketing gimmicks like “Get your kid to build an app just within 3 months,” some expressed grave concern for those who succumbed to this FOMO-laden learning environment.

The problem, however, is distinguishing real educators from those cashing in on vulnerable parents. And the solution lies in understanding the “Why” — why should kids bother to learn coding and the things only coding can teach them. Parents are often oblivious to concepts of Programming: how it instils next-gen skills such as logical thinking, self-expression and problem-solving, and how it encourages timeless qualities like curiosity, persistence and patience. So, if you are looking for a coding class for your kid, consider these factors:

Choosing between Block-Based Coding & Text-Based Coding: 

Text-based Programming is essentially typing instructions in a programming language following a syntax. The syntax is nothing but the grammar & spelling rules of a programming language. Some of the popular Text-Based programming languages are Python, Java, Javascript and Lua. 

Block-Based Coding is a relatively new form of programming language where the instructions are issued by dragging and dropping the in-built blocks of code. 

The right balance of Ease & Challenge:

If you are looking to introduce coding to a student between the age of 7-11 years, which is a Concrete Operational Stage, where they start developing logical thinking, Block-Based Coding might be a good idea. It will introduce them to all the fun & easy aspects of coding.

The Block-Based Programming Environment is intuitive, because it is—

-Easy to read with their descriptive labels

-Fun to compose because of the drag & drop process

-Reduces the probability of syntax errors to zero with a Visual programming environment using graphical & iconic elements. 

The students don’t have to remember a list of commands or a complex syntax. Their efforts lay a foundation for logical thinking & sequencing. They can create animated Video Games, stories using the interface.  

However, if you are exposing students to coding at the age of 12 & up, which is a Formal Operational Stage, where they start thinking in logical combinations and abstract concepts, text-based coding offers the right amount of ease & challenge. 

Kids are likely to outgrow blocked-based coding after elementary school because the Jigsaw Puzzle-like environment doesn’t challenge them anymore. They realize they do not know anything about coding beyond what’s already present on this gamified interface. And that they don’t know real coding or real coding languages. That might be because they have developed a growing interest in coding and recognize their ability to learn typed code with its syntax, logic, and complexity.

Block-Based Programming is a great place to start your coding journey, but it doesn’t nearly teach you how to write code. Much like ready-to-cook products, it just gives you the feel of coding.

Whether you get your kid to start early with Block-Based Programming or during middle school with text-based Coding Lessons, prefer a course that allows self-paced learning and is structured based on the students’ level of interest.

EVALUATE THE LEARNING MATERIAL 

The best way to judge the value of any coding class is by evaluating the framework it provides. The framework provides a base for both students and instructors. 

The criteria to evaluate the course framework:

– Complexity of the tool they are teaching 

– Relevance of assignments in the real world 

– Accessibility to resources such as video lessons to revisit the concepts or assistance for personal projects or competitions. 

Enquire about the learning material & resources the course offers. Compare it with your other options & ask for a trial class before you sign up for the course.

FOCUS ON THE TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

Part of the reason we consider coding as a future-ready skill is for the transferable skills it offers. One of the most crucial future-ready skills Text-Based Programming languages offer is Computational Thinking. It teaches them how to–

-Analyze data

-Break down the problem into smaller components

-Identify problems areas and come up with action plans

-Resolve it and analyze the results further for accuracy

As you can see, it covers a wide range of Critical Thinking skills such as problem-solving, logical thinking, structural & algorithmic thinking which can be easily applied in any field or job.

They acquire these skills subconsciously—only if they are enjoying the process of learning itself. One way to ensure that they are absorbing these skills is, to ensure there’s a tangible output. Ensure the course offers enough hands-on projects & assignments. 

CHOOSING A PROGRAMING LANGUAGE

Text-based programming is also a natural progression for students already versed in Block-Based Coding. Python, Java, CSS/HTML, JavaScript, Swift, and Ruby are some of the popular Text-based programming languages. Python is one of the fastest-growing languages and also fairly easy to comprehend for this age group. The ideal age to approach any of this language is between 11-18, as your mind is equipped to perform logical thinking and grasp arithmetic concepts. 

However, you shouldn’t worry too much about the coding languages and focus more on exposing them to an ideal coding environment. Text-based code allows them to build familiarity with the functioning of code in the real world. The characteristics like troubleshooting, variables, logical flow are more or less the same in all programming languages. Yes, the syntax & terminology are specific to the language, but once the student gets the hang of the concepts, it’s a breeze. 

INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO LEARNING 

The whole point of virtual learning is to create a learning environment the traditional educational system generally lacks. Especially when it comes to an extensive subject like Coding, the learning experience makes all the difference.

Your chosen course should–

– Map out students’ coding learning journey creatively

– Facilitate a meaningful instructor-student relationship 

– Ensure curriculum should be rooted in the real world.

At Tekie, we have created a movie-like learning environment combined with interactive sessions with instructors who teach them to code on a live coding platform. If you’d like a free trial, book a demo now.