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Teaching Kids To Code

Google Tech TalksMarch, 7 2008ABSTRACTLearning to code has become both more important and more complicatedin the last decade. We need to make it attractive and easy again.Most western countries currently experience a shortage of skilledcomputing professionals in the employment market. We have seen asimilar problem in the 1990s, but this time the situation isdifferent: While the problem in the 90s was university capacity (wejust couldn't educate enough people quickly enough), this time aroundit is enrolment: Universities have the capacity, but not enoughstudents sign up to study technical, computing related subjects, suchas computer science or software engineering.The real problem lies before university: at school age, studentsdecide against computing as a subject, because it is perceived asgeeky, tedious, intellectually not challenging, and most of allboring. At the same time, programming in schools is on a sharp decline.We need to counter this trend by bringing programming back intoschools, and make it an engaging, challenging, relevant and enjoyableactivity. To be successful, the public sector, academia and businessshould work together to make this happen.At the University of Kent, we have developed two successfuldevelopment environments, named BlueJ and Greenfoot, and educationalmaterial to address these challenges. In this presentation, we willdiscuss both, with the main focus on Greenfoot, a system for beginnersto learn Java programming through development of interactive graphicalapplications.Greenfoot and its associated materials can be used to teachprogramming in schools, computer clubs, or to your own children. Kidsdevelop computer games, and -- almost as an aside -- learn object-oriented programming in Java.In this talk, I will present the software, strategies for learning ofprogramming, and the benefits and drawback of Java as a first language.Speaker: Michael K?lling, Computing Laboratory, University Michael K?lling is the lead designer of the BlueJ and Greenfoot programming environments. Both environments are designed for beginners to learn the basics of Java, and are widely used by schools and universities all over the world. Michael is also the founder of the Sun Center of Excellence in Object-Oriented Education at the University of Kent. He works as a Senior Lecturer in the Computing Laboratory at the University of Kent, where he teaches Java to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is co-author of a successful Java textbook, "Objects First With Java."
Length: 56:31

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