Beginning to Code

I had no expectation that in six weeks these students would become computer programmers. But I wanted them to begin to understand how problems are solved with logically structured instructions. I wanted to demystify coding and help lay the cornerstones for Computational Thinking.

I had identified two online courses that I was going to try to use. One used videos to help guide the learning process, the other was just text-based. I started out with the video course since I thought that it might better engage the students.

But I quickly confronted a problem I wasn’t expecting. Thirty students streaming videos simultaneously ground the entire school network down to a halt. The website wouldn’t load correctly for the students and when it did, the videos would constantly freeze.

It wasn’t pretty. When technology fails and you have thirty kids in a room who are getting frustrated, everything starts going sideways. The noise increases, the interactions increase, attention fragments and you have classroom chaos – a teacher’s greatest fear.

Later I found out that the entire district only had a 40 Mbps internet connection. Given that each video stream needs about 5 Mbps, there was no way that a classroom of students could stream videos. I began to wonder how kids from a rural community like Dayton would ever be able to participate in the global economy shackled with such poor internet connections.

So a quick pivot was needed, Plan B. We were all going to use the other online course.

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