Connected Code. Why children need to learn programming

Yasmin B Kafai, Quinn Burke

Published by

MIT Press

ISBN

9780262027755

RRP

£17.95

Reviewed by

Mehmet Hurer B.Sc (Hons) MBCS CITP CEng

Score

9 out of 10

In Connected Code the authors discuss not only why we should be teaching children to program, but also how it should be taught and how teaching methods need to adapt to the 21st century. Previous attempts to stimulate interest among children are described, along with reasons why they have and will continue to have only limited success.

There are a number of key themes throughout the book and these are explained comprehensively by the authors, illustrated and reinforced by numerous studies.

For example, the authors describe how computer programs should be written with a purpose in mind rather than just for the sake of writing code; this can be writing simple games, or developing a tool to teach numeracy skills for younger children. By doing so children can understand the value and purpose of programming, as well as giving them the immediate gratification associated with producing something useful and fun.  

Additionally, computer programming should be a collaborative activity, with children openly sharing and demonstrating what they have produced, not only within the confines of their own classroom but with others online.  

Another example is how computer programming should be an integral part of the curriculum and not something confined to after-school clubs or the privileged few.

The authors illustrate the programming languages designed for younger children, Logo and Scratch, and show how such languages provide the basic concepts of programs, such as structure and loops. They also reinforce the key themes in the book, such as how Scratch projects can be shared and ‘remixed’ with other Scratch developers online.

The list of references and cross-referenced studies and material is impressive. If you are, or want to be, involved in educating children, then this book is an essential read.

Further information: MIT Press

December 2014