The fact that technology has permeated almost every facet of our lives goes without question. As such it is important that every child who is in our education system should a basic idea about how it works. In the upmarket private schools this is the norm but what about our public schools? The government earlier this year launched a project to have every child in Standard one equipped with a tab. This is a good initiative but question is what happens to the older children? Who teaches them how to use computers? My thinking is that a computer lab accessible to all would have been a better idea as it would have meant that everyone in school benefits.
Can you imagine a situation whereby every child in Kenya had basic computer science skills and with that problem solving and critical thinking skills required in our tech fuel world? There would be no limit to what they could do and achieve as I believe that in Kenya we have the talent all that lacks are the opportunities. It is with this in mind that Microsoft in partnership with Code.org have launched an “Hour of Code” campaign.
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Hour of Code is a global movement that aimed at inspiring millions of young people to try an hour of code so that they can learn basic computer science skills. To do this, Microsoft and Code.org have released a new tutorial “Minecraft Hour of Code Designer” to enable students build their own simple Minecraft game. It works by allowing players to create their own custom game experience by plugging together blocks of code to control the behavior of sheep, zombies and other creatures in the game. The tutorial starts with sheep that don’t move and creeper that don’t attack as the behaviours have not been coded yet. Students then code how the game works for example sheep can drop diamonds instead of wool, zombies can attack the creepers. Basically, when you learn how to code, your imagination is the limit. How cool Is that??!!
Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Kangemi Resource Center and I was able to see firsthand the work the Microsoft is doing in its quest to teach basic coding. Kangemi Resource Center reaches out to kids in the Kangemi area to give them a safe space to use the computer room, library and recreation. It is also a place where mothers can leave their children when they go to work. As you can imagine these kids do not have a lot of exposure when it comes to technology and I could see the excitement in their eyes when they were able to make the creatures in the game move after writing a few lines of code. The thing is with kids some of these things stick in their minds for a very long time and I would not be surprised that one of them after that experience would decide to pursue a career in I.T.
The Minecraft tutorial is actually very simple to use and anyone can learn to code using it. This is because it is designed for anyone aged 6 and above and it also introduces players to basic coding in a fun, simple environment guided by video tutorials.