Inspiring Students Through Technology

Ryan Ely

Ryan Ely loves is an avid tech guru who loves anything that has to do with technology or programming. Ryan also loves spending time with his wife Shannon and his four beautiful children.

In this day and age it’s almost impossible to walk into a classroom and see a teacher instructing his or her class without a computer. There is good reason for this. Technology provides us with an efficient way to learn and seek out the information we utilize on a daily basis.

That being said, I beg you to ask yourself this question: shouldn’t we be using technology in our classrooms to help students create and become inspired, rather than simply instruct? Here at Macro Connect we asked ourselves the same question. We wanted to help inspire more students with technology through programming. This gave us motivation to develop a service called Code to Compose. The unique program offers a way for students to become immersed in programming while simultaneously developing their own original music. The ability for students to create music while undoubtedly learning results in a technique that infuses a intimidating subject with innovation and fun.

Code to Compose operates on a computer application called Sonic Pi, which translates Ruby Programming language code into melodies. Students are encouraged to gain familiarity with the program by trying new things, ultimately leading to using advanced coding commands. The end result is a unique product of music that makes students feel proud and accomplished to have created. Code to Compose incorporates 6 lessons, 3 final projects, 10 hours of instruction, and is recommended for use in classrooms at middles schools and high schools.

Creative engagement gets students involved. The hands on approach to learning about technology doesn’t only help students learn more about devices and software, but can aid in giving teachers new ideas on how to be more productive in the classroom. With technology being such a main focus in our everyday lives, coding is becoming more and more relevant. The number of computer-based occupations is growing exponentially, while the education needed to properly perform those jobs lags behind.

The push for coding courses in the classroom has become somewhat of a movement in recent years. Some educators are even arguing that the instruction of programming languages are going to be equally as important as the historical classic courses like American History, English, Math, and Science. There are arguments that refute the push to encourage coding in the classroom, like the theory that public educators shouldn’t attempt to mold children into computer scientists and engineers. The reality of the matter however is that “molding” them is nowhere near the goal. Rather, providing students with the tools to succeed in an ever-increasingly technical world is the end objective. Introducing coding in ways like Code to Compose can, at the very least, increase problem solving skills, boost self-confidence, and dodge the stereotype that coding is strictly for geniuses.

If you want to find other ways to incorporate this kind of learning in your classroom, we encourage you to check out the resources below.

Scratch by MIT: Designed specifically for students aged 8-16, Scratch is a platform for kids to create their own stories, animations, games, art, music, and other forms of media through code. The great thing about Scratch is that it’s free, making it an excellent tool to utilize in the classroom.

Code.ORG: Another website dedicated to getting more coding opportunities into K-12 classrooms, offers various one-hour tutorials designed for all academic levels. They also provide online courses to aid in teacher instruction in the computer science area.

Code Academy: Code Academy offers courses in multiple coding languages including HTML & CSS, Python, JavaScript, Java, SQL, Bash/Shell, and Ruby. This website is also free and helps people of all ages learn to code interactively.

Khan Academy: Khan Academy is an extremely broad educational website with many lessons in computer programming. Khan Academy also has their own version of “Hour of Code” and can be completed for free.

Codemoji: Codemoji is especially attractive for students, as it teaches them about ciphers while interacting with their friends via emoji.

Code Monster: Another highly interactive and fun site for kids, Code Monster aims to make learning about coding fun. By exploring a virtual enchanted forest while completing puzzles, you can lead your monster to victory.

Helping your students develop basic programming skills can have added benefits outside of the classroom. Considering how connected the world is today and how much we tend to rely on computers, understanding the way technology works and how we can increase its functionality will serve as a great tool in life. Also, many companies are seeking to employ talented programmers, knowing full well how valuable that skill set is.

To all teachers: we encourage you to get out there and help your students learn some programming skills. With the right resources, it’s fun, easy, and you’ll even get enjoyment out of it!

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