Twenty-two K-12 school teachers in the Hickory Public Schools, Catawba County Schools Newton-Conover City Schools have completed a computer coding workshop taught by Catawba Valley Community College’s 5C Technology Academy. Plans are for many more to do the same.
The college’s mission with the 5C Technology Academy is to develop IT fluency in the community’s future workforce. CVCC’s strategy is to train public school teachers on the basics of computer science/computer coding so they can pass on to their students an excitement for careers in the IT profession.
Does that mean all public school graduates are destined for a career in the IT field? Not necessarily, according to Sharon Jones, who developed the curriculum and teaches many of the 5C Technology Academy workshops for CVCC. However, the principles of logic, critical thinking and problem solving used in learning to “code” are essential to becoming a 21st Century student and an employable member of the workforce, she explained.
“Technology integration into the K-12 system and advanced certification for employment will assist in the development of a robust workforce for Catawba County and the region,” explained Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw, president of CVCC.
Above all, says Donna Rudisill, Instructional Technology Facilitator for Catawba County Schools, learning to code teaches a way of thinking. As students engage in fun, hands-on activities while learning coding, “it teaches them to write clear instructions because they think more carefully about steps necessary to write computer code.”
During 5C Technology Academy workshops, participants are introduced to and work with Scratch Programming software. The easy-to-use, free platform helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. The easy to use drag-and-drop coding principles allows participants to create projects for any curriculum. While learning the software, participants also discuss how to integrate it into their classrooms.
“Computers are an everyday part of our students’ lives, even before entering school,” says Barbara Lydick, a first grade teacher and curriculum specialist at Mountain View Elementary School who attended a CVCC 5C Technology Academy coding academy workshop. Even if her first graders don’t have home computers, they have been interacting with smart phones, iPads, Wiis, Play Stations and other computerized devices from a young age, she points out.
“Taking that prior knowledge and comfort level and using it for coding, we have opened not only a possible future career choice, but a level of confidence in the computer area that is leaps and bounds above what they have had before,” Lydick added.
Lydick’s students also exhibit a natural tendency to help one another and work together when learning to code. They are also more confident and willing to take on challenges in other subject areas.
What impresses Rudisill is how learning coding encourages collaboration and helps students resist the urge to give up too quickly. One of her students worked over an entire weekend trying to resolve a programming problem. After spending time with a classmate on the problem, the two of them students figured it out together.
For more information on the next 5C Technology Academy Coding Workshop for teachers, contact Gary Muller, Dean of CVCC’s School of Business, Industry & Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org.