You’ve probably heard about the push to provide students with coding and programming skills as a way to better prepare them for the 21st century and possible future careers. Many companies like code.org, code academy, tinker, programming basics, RobotLAB and many others, offer to students a variety of learning exercises to teach them coding and programming in a fun and easy way. There are even online platforms for children as young as 5 years old.
Nevertheless, exists big differences between coding and programming and it is important to know what makes them unique. Each student has a different goal for their learning; whether it be to improve a specific skill, further a career path or engage with their passion, they should be sure if they want to become a coding or a programmer.
Computer science is the study of virtually everything connected to computers: theory, hardware architecture, algorithms for solving various kinds of problems, logical structure, certain rules that govern and manage computing system and so forth. It gives a theoretical explanation of how computers actually work. It is about studying the processes which entail studying the procedures, set of instructions for accomplishing tasks and about what computers are and are not capable of doing. Programming and coding are just small but very important parts of the broader field we call computer science.
There is a lot of confusion between programming and coding and what each of them really means. Let’s clear that up. Programming is primarily the process of creating a computer program or an application that when runs must lead to certain results. In a broader sense, the word programming implies all the aspects of activity related to designing and creating a program, which involves deeply analyzing a problem, developing logics, coming up with right algorithms and data structure, testing, debugging and maintaining a program. These are all and more considered part of programming whereas coding is only an implementation of the algorithm in a particular programming language (C++, Python, Java etc.) it is translating logics into real code making it readable for humans and machines.
Let’s give it an example, imagine building a library. A person responsible for designing, planning the construction of the library is an architect. He will think of many things before he draws up the plans for building like safety, look, space. He will determine specific procedures to achieve his goal. The programmer is an architect who creates a program. An analogy for coder would be an electrician or a carpenter who just follows already defined plan to build certain parts of the library. Coding is just an act of writing a code.
Oh yes! There are many regardless a student’s future career choice. When students start coding or programming they need to think of diverse ways to find a solution to a problem, or how to give instructions to a robot, or a what’s the next move according to the logic of the exercise. As a result, students develop their creativity and come up with big and innovative ideas.
One of the biggest skill students will acquire is critical thinking. Coding and programming will help students to structure their mind and think about an idea as a complete process, the beginning, the implementation and the solution and due to this way of thinking they will be more open to new challenges in life.
Through the study of programming and coding students are not only interacting with technology but they’ll create the technology (games, apps) and be capable of understanding the language of the machine. This skill is already considered as a superpower and is a superpower with a high demand. There are only 400,000 graduates in computer science which leaves 1 million empty jobs* (www.code.orgs/stats). This opens the door as another option for students’ future career choices. Like John Porter says on his column at eLearning industry magazine: “coding and programming are like learning how to ride a bike, is easier when you are young”, also is the practice what makes you an expert.
Nowadays coding and programming are becoming accessible for everybody and due to the diversity of online platforms, students can find activities at their skill level which make learning fun and engaging. At RobotLAB we are committed to providing students and teachers tools for learning programming and coding in an easy and a fun way that improves, transforms and brings learning to life - tapping into students’ natural enthusiasm about robots.
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