Learning to code – local, national, international, online

I learned about yet another coding/computing for kids thing today… the South East Scotland ComputerXPlorers, part of what seems to be an international franchise operation of local programming clubs & in-school learning for kids. Looking round the business side of the site, the franchise business aspect is very clear, but it looks like the school and after school activities they do are reasonably well designed and planned – covering the likes of Scratch programming and computer animation.

This gets added to a bunch of other computing/coding for kids things…

Code Club is a network of coding clubs. There appear to be seven of these in the Glasgow area alone – mostly in primary schools. Not surprising, as it is for after-school clubs for children in 9-11 age range.

[Updated details] CoderDojo is something similar, but less tied to schools. Ages 11-18, but here the Scotland Dojo meets at the Science Centre in Glasgow, a local museum. Meetings are also held in Edinburgh. The Scotland group has its own page here, and uses this eventbrite page for booking slots.

Getting all grown up, the MakLab in central Glasgow is a hackspace with 3D printers, soldering equipment and more. They also run evening classes on soldering and introductory programming.

Then online, as well as a gazillion traditional online courses there are the interactive programming tutorials and courses from Code Academy and Code Avengers. These are both commercial operations, in the case of Code Academy with significant venture capital behind it, though Code Avengers is the one with a clear pricing system for some of their tutorials. Both offer free lessons too, but no sign yet of where Code Academy will try to earn money in future.

Code Academy also include tools to allow you to generate new lessons on the system – but seeing as you are effectively giving away material to a commercial operation, I’m not sure I understand the point of this.

Of course, there are many other online coding environments and tutorials – such as Nick Parlante’s Coding Bat, but keeping track of them all is proving challenging. Finding good ones that are ‘open’ in the full sense of the word (as in Open Education or Open Source, with the ability to download, remix, reuse and redistribute) is even harder.

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