Hour of Code

December 8th through 14th marked Computer Science Education Week, along with a week-long push for Hour of Code, an initiative in procedural literacy through beginner-friendly tutorials with particular attention to groups that remain underrepresented in STEM. While many of the community events and initiatives are aimed at K-12, the tutorials and resources from the project and the initiative itself can be valuable for us to take a look at in higher education.

Obama kicked off the week of code by writing a program in one of my go-to languages, JavaScript. That language is also at the heart of the fantastic Hour of Code tutorial based on Frozen, shown above. The Frozen tutorial puts elegant computer graphics at the front of simple computer drawing scripting, and while the tutorial uses a building block code method there’s an option throughout to instead show how the code would be written in JavaScript. If you like the building block system, Scratch is a great simple tool for playing with it further. There are also several other great starter tutorials featured for Hour of Code: I particularly recommend the Code Avengers JavaScript game-building tutorial and the LightBot programming puzzle app.

We’ve discussed whether everyone benefits from learning to code on ProfHacker in the past. The Hour of Code project (and related initiatives) have focused on the accessibility of code, which is a great way to break the obscurity of software and move away from viewing programming as a closed and difficult profession to acknowledging code as a form of literacy and practice that can be integrated into many disciplines. As many of us at ProfHacker work at the intersection of digital humanities and other efforts to bridge the gap between STEM and “non”-STEM disciplines, this approach can be valuable to the larger conversation.

While Hour of Code’s tutorials are merely a taste, learning programming on your own can be a larger project. There are lots of ways to get started: Adeline Koh has reviewed the Codagogy and CodeAcademy web platforms, and I’ve suggested several tools for learning to code while making games, including Construct 2, Twine, and Inform 7. Any of these can be great follow-ups for bringing code into project-making in the classroom.

Did you participate in Hour of Code? How was it? Alternately, share your favorite resources for learning code in the comments!

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