codakids for coding lessons

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helloeveryone
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codakids for coding lessons

Post by helloeveryone »

Our preteen kids indicated they want to try to code based on a game they both spend a LOT of time on. (Roblox)
I stumbled upon Codakids which looks really neat, friendly, and has self paced learning but also private 1:1 tutoring.

Does anyone have experience with this for their kids?

(background - parents are NOT coding savy/computer science folks at all)
treesinthewind
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by treesinthewind »

We tried codakids for about 30 minutes with a 9-yo a couple of years ago. I don't remember the details, but I do remember the ensuing tears and frustration lead us to cancel quickly. I recall that the instruction was all video-based and either way too fast or too slow (I don't remember which). Unless you're a *patient* coder who can sit with the kid and troubleshoot (we are not), I would not recommend. And they still send me emails!

We've had much better luck with live ID Tech camps, which are pricey but we had a discount. Hour of Code/Scratch is great for beginners and free, but no live help. There is a free camp called Tech Time that is fairly basic but has live instructors: https://www.techtimeclasses.com/ Your school may have more subscriptions if you ask, such as kodable.

In our case, live instruction has been crucial because debugging is much easier when you have someone to ask, especially when you are just starting out. Unfortunately it can be hard to come by affordably once you've passed the Scratch block programming stage.
hicabob
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by hicabob »

Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
KyleAAA
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by KyleAAA »

hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:02 pm Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
Both coder and programmer are equally offensive to software engineers. Almost as bad as referring to them as being in IT.
hicabob
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by hicabob »

KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:05 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:02 pm Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
Both coder and programmer are equally offensive to software engineers. Almost as bad as referring to them as being in IT.
Bill Gates old biz card used to say "programmer". Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" series always seemed to garner respect.
KyleAAA
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by KyleAAA »

hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:09 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:05 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:02 pm Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
Both coder and programmer are equally offensive to software engineers. Almost as bad as referring to them as being in IT.
Bill Gates old biz card used to say "programmer". Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" series always seemed to garner respect.
It wasn't offensive in the 80s.
Iridium
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by Iridium »

KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:05 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:02 pm Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
Both coder and programmer are equally offensive to software engineers. Almost as bad as referring to them as being in IT.
I don't expect training oriented toward preteens is going to teach them requirements analysis, estimation, architecture documentation, complexity analysis, or test case definition. Given that such places only teach the programming part of SE, I think it is most accurate to call the product of such education programmers (to be clear, I fully endorse focusing solely on programming at first, as the need for most of the rest of SE only becomes apparent once you start working on other SW projects; let the kids have fun hacking together their undocumented and untested code to give them their first taste of bending a computer to their will).

This CS major a decade removed from college considers programmer and coder to be equivalent terms. Personally, I prefer developer if they are at least one step up from hacking code together and I can't bring myself to call them a software engineer for whatever reason.

OP, I definitely endorse Hour of Code to start the journey. I have tried to teach so many students in their desired ultimate language from the start (Java in their case) and basic things like variables and how code executes were always huge stumbling blocks.

I help coach a team in FIRST robotics. An equivalent program is VEX robotics. Both will train their SW members up from scratch. Depending on personality and expectations, it might be a good fit. Pretty cool to see your code doing something in the real world and to have peers (many of which will tutor you and help you troubleshoot). On the other hand, robotics teams are actually more about learning how to create something with peers than the technical domains it is notionally about (getting a robot to move with Java is easy...splitting the job between three people, getting the information you need from the HW team, and hitting a deadline are nearly impossible at that age).
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JupiterJones
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by JupiterJones »

This might make for some worthwhile reading:

https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/1 ... lving.html

From the article...
Coding books for kids present coding as a set of problems with “correct” solutions. And if your children can just master the syntax, they’ll be able to make things quickly and easily. But that is not the way programming works. Programming is messy. Programming is a mix of creativity and determination.

[...]

There are no books that teach you how to solve a problem no one has seen before. This is why I don’t want my kids to learn syntax. I want them to learn to solve problems, to dive deep into an issue, to be creative.
Stay on target...
Housedoc
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by Housedoc »

I went with the "Call me what you want, just pay me well" concept. I had 10+ titles at IBM over 32+ yrs, While still doing the same work, just at different levels.
musicmom
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by musicmom »

Different field, same story.

40+ years in a clinical laboratory.
Cant say how many titles I had. Counterparts in other US regions had different titles for same positions.
Three accrediting groups assigned different names at different times.
Glad Im too old now to be further confused.
Normchad
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by Normchad »

Introducing kids to programming nowadays is surprisingly difficult. I tried with my kid, and never found anything I liked.

When I was kid, you turned the computer in, you were at the basic prompt, and you could get started. And we had magazines full of programs you could type in, which really helped learn it.

Now, it’s much harder. There are frameworks and VMs, and the languages are more involved, etc. overall, everything is truly better. But interns of getting a kid setup, and getting to “hello world”, it’s just too complex.....

Here, install this docket. Now you need an IDE. Oh wait, you need these optional patches and pacakages. Ok, now you can write. Oh crap, it won’t run. WTF is this error about? The kid lost interest a long time ago.....

I tried some of the simp,ear stuff, like LEGO robotics, etc. and some of those seemed so dumbed down to be uninteresting as well....
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warner25
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by warner25 »

KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:10 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:09 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:05 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:02 pm Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
Both coder and programmer are equally offensive to software engineers. Almost as bad as referring to them as being in IT.
Bill Gates old biz card used to say "programmer". Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" series always seemed to garner respect.
It wasn't offensive in the 80s.
I hated "coder" and "coding" from the first time I started hearing it, which seemed to correspond with the recent explosion of "coding boot camps" and the push to teach every child how to "code." I can't find a reference now, but then I read that Grace Hopper either coined the term, or at least used it early in her career. Learning from a bunch of old CS professors, I guess I was brought up with the term "programming," so that sounds better to me. "Software engineer," and often now just "engineer," always stuck me as pretentious. Even worse, I now work squarely in IT and the trend is call everyone a systems, services, or network engineer when many of them can't even do high school mathematics, nor write and execute a Hello World program. But the worst must be an IT guy who I met a couple years ago who refers to all programming as "scripting."
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warner25
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by warner25 »

Normchad wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:44 pm Introducing kids to programming nowadays is surprisingly difficult...
Agreed. What you describe is frustrating even for adults who are motivated and know what they are doing. I think there is a thread on Hacker News everyday complaining about some aspect of the complexity of modern software ecosystems. My kids are too young, but (half-kidding) maybe one day I'll just give them my copy of Kernighan and Ritchie, The C Programming Language, along with a Linux machine with no desktop environment.
Normchad
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by Normchad »

warner25 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:47 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:10 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:09 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:05 pm
hicabob wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:02 pm Does the now ubiquitous use of the terms "coding/code/coder" instead of the proper terms, "programming/program/programmer" irritate other old CS types as much as it does me?
Both coder and programmer are equally offensive to software engineers. Almost as bad as referring to them as being in IT.
Bill Gates old biz card used to say "programmer". Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" series always seemed to garner respect.
It wasn't offensive in the 80s.
I hated "coder" and "coding" from the first time I started hearing it, which seemed to correspond with the recent explosion of "coding boot camps" and the push to teach every child how to "code." I can't find a reference now, but then I read that Grace Hopper either coined the term, or at least used it early in her career. Learning from a bunch of old CS professors, I guess I was brought up with the term "programming," so that sounds better to me. "Software engineer," and often now just "engineer," always stuck me as pretentious. Even worse, I now work squarely in IT and the trend is call everyone a systems, services, or network engineer when many of them can't even do high school mathematics, nor write and execute a Hello World program. But the worst must be an IT guy who I met a couple years ago who refers to all programming as "scripting."
My understanding is that the term "coding" goes back at least as far as the punch card days. (So if you hadn't heard that before, you are not as old school as you think). I never used punch cards, but I think they used "coding sheets", and these were used to generate the actual punched cards. So it makes sense that people that filled in those sheets were "coders". "Source Code" is a real thing, and it's fair to think of the authors of it as "coders".

But it's also reasonable to say that they are "computer programmers", for they are making a computer program.

And yes, even developers is fair, because in all cases, they are developing something.

"Software engineer" is a relatively new term. For the longest time, schools didn't have CS/CE departments. And most of the early coders/developers/programmers had math or hard science backgrounds.

I consider myself to be a "software engineer"; although my degree is in Computer Engineering.But I like to write code, I like to program computers, and I live to develop software.

None of it offends me. My personal preference though, would be "two fisted code monkey".
atikovi
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by atikovi »

I thought coding is what entry level employees at medical offices do when submitting patients bills to insurance or medicare. Isn't this just data entry or keyboarding? I remember seeing ads years ago on daytime TV promoting, Billing and coding training for great jobs in the medical industry. Get trained in 6 short weeks for a job that will always be in demand.
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warner25
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by warner25 »

Normchad wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:04 pm My understanding is that the term "coding" goes back at least as far as the punch card days. (So if you hadn't heard that before, you are not as old school as you think). I never used punch cards, but I think they used "coding sheets", and these were used to generate the actual punched cards. So it makes sense that people that filled in those sheets were "coders". "Source Code" is a real thing, and it's fair to think of the authors of it as "coders"...
But other than in compound words like "source code" and "code review," didn't the term really fall out of favor until just the last decade or so?

I'm not old, but old enough to have played with BASIC as a kid and finish a CS degree before the rise of things like iOS, Android, and client-side web application development.
arsenalfan
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by arsenalfan »

We seem to have hijacked this thread from the OP's request, and started one on what to call computer coders...

OP, see if your local Community College has virtual classes for this.

This summer my child took a couple week-long virtual courses at the local community college. He was happy on Minecraft and Mario Maker 2, and we were hoping to expose him to the next level stuff. These courses had nifty titles like "Make your own Video Game" and "Minecraft World Maker" - it was waaayyy more work, but they got to see how there were secondary applications and coding platforms to help make Minecraft Worlds, as well as generic video games.

The kids were kind of annoyed at how much work was involved at first, but got the hang of it, and really liked showing off their finished project. Which was nowhere near the polished stuff MarioMaker 2 or Minecraft produces, but exposed them to more code under the hood.

As an aside, I recall hearing about how the new Microsoft heads are trying to take the Minecraft interest to the next level...still waiting for their product!!!
otinkyad
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by otinkyad »

helloeveryone wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:36 pm Our preteen kids indicated they want to try to code based on a game they both spend a LOT of time on. (Roblox)
I stumbled upon Codakids which looks really neat, friendly, and has self paced learning but also private 1:1 tutoring.

Does anyone have experience with this for their kids?

(background - parents are NOT coding savy/computer science folks at all)
I don’t have any specific experience with any of these things. You might look a Udemy as well. I would suggest that if it’s affordable, a two to four week class that leaves them with something they can continue on their own with generic Roblox tools and materials, or free stuff, would be ideal. Getting started without the class or a mentor or something at that age is hard. Paying for yet another ongoing activity seems silly to me. If they really like it, they will be able to keep going with a push start.
Normchad wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:44 pm Introducing kids to programming nowadays is surprisingly difficult. I tried with my kid, and never found anything I liked.
We found the same, although a lack of eagerness on the kid’s part didn’t help. He liked the idea of doing things that he didn’t actually want to do. Minecraft was the most fruitful, with redstone, command blocks, mod programming, skins, etc. Maybe Roblox can serve that role for the OP. We had tried Scratch, R, and a few other things when he was younger. The first thing to actually stick was a CodeHS online JavaScript class in high school. That was really nice, easy to get started with but not dumbed down. He’s using DrRacket in his intro college class now, which is also great, and both the environment and materials are freely available, along with free EdX classes.
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JupiterJones
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by JupiterJones »

Normchad wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:44 pm When I was kid, you turned the computer in, you were at the basic prompt, and you could get started. And we had magazines full of programs you could type in, which really helped learn it.

Now, it’s much harder.
I started the same way and consider myself lucky for it.

But you know, there's a thriving "retrocomputer" community these days. Assuming a modern kid would even be jazzed about those old 8-bit systems in the first place (maybe they would?), there are ways to recreate the experience:

Emulation:
There is various software out there that precisely mimics (with cycle-level accuracy) pretty much any old-school computer you can think of. Commodore 64s, Apple IIs, Radio Shack CoCos, etc.

Vintage Hardware: eBay is full of old computers, software, and peripherals. Some have even been fully restored/tested. Granted, the prices are a bit higher than they used to be thanks to the rekindled interest.

New Recreations: Some companies are selling modern recreations of old computers, which will run all the same software, and even boot to BASIC (or FORTH if you get a Jupiter Ace clone!) Many of them are kits though, so if you're not handy with a soldering iron, you're out of luck.
Stay on target...
000
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by 000 »

Linux PC
K&R 2nd edition C book

If too young for this, focus on general math, logic, and science skills.
Panky
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by Panky »

helloeveryone wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:36 pm Our preteen kids indicated they want to try to code based on a game they both spend a LOT of time on. (Roblox)
I stumbled upon Codakids which looks really neat, friendly, and has self paced learning but also private 1:1 tutoring.

Does anyone have experience with this for their kids?

(background - parents are NOT coding savy/computer science folks at all)
I have heard good things about Roblox for some of this learning actually, so good on you/them for finding that in the first place!

I believe Lego Robotics may be an easy jump for them based on Roblox, but don't have personal experience there.

Subscribing to MAKE magazine may be a good way to get a friendly paper format to explore some areas and see possibilities.
I have played with some personal projects vaguely related to that, mostly coding little things on a Raspberry Pi (a well under $100 line of very small computers that are easy to connect sensors and motors and lights too for prototyping).

There is actually a growing "Maker" movement of people trying to learn technology and make their own projects, look for "Maker [your town]" or "hackerspace [your town]" to see if you lucked out to have a local group. While it is likely mostly adults, you could go with your kids to a presentation so they could start getting some exposure and ideas.

FIRST Robotics completions/clubs/groups are pretty common in our area, though they are more geared to teenagers.
https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc
I had peers that did that and greatly enjoyed it and learned a lot, I think one even got a scholarship from it.
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warner25
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by warner25 »

000 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:37 am Linux PC
K&R 2nd edition C book
So I mentioned this "half-jokingly," but I think the straightforwardness of it (just keep turning the pages and following along), and later extensibility (because it is a serious language, not a toy), is nice. The hurdle for non-savvy parents is that K&R assumes a working knowledge of Unix, so you at least need to start with a tutorial on how to navigate the directory structure, change permissions, use a text editor, probably use a package manager, etc. And before that, you have to choose a Linux distro and download the image to create boot disc or deploy a virtual machine. Of course, certain kids will figure out all of this on their own and be fascinated by this new world.
Iridium
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Re: codakids for coding lessons

Post by Iridium »

Panky wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:47 am
FIRST Robotics completions/clubs/groups are pretty common in our area, though they are more geared to teenagers.
https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc
I had peers that did that and greatly enjoyed it and learned a lot, I think one even got a scholarship from it.
FIRST Robotics runs Lego League for late Elementary to Middle School students. It also runs First Tech Challenge, which is for Middle and High School students. The overlap between the program ages is intentional, as they give different sorts of experiences. There is also Vex Robotics Competition, which, in terms of experience, is most similar to First Tech Challenge.
Normchad wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:44 pm Introducing kids to programming nowadays is surprisingly difficult. I tried with my kid, and never found anything I liked.

When I was kid, you turned the computer in, you were at the basic prompt, and you could get started. And we had magazines full of programs you could type in, which really helped learn it.

Now, it’s much harder. There are frameworks and VMs, and the languages are more involved, etc. overall, everything is truly better. But interns of getting a kid setup, and getting to “hello world”, it’s just too complex.....

Here, install this docket. Now you need an IDE. Oh wait, you need these optional patches and pacakages. Ok, now you can write. Oh crap, it won’t run. WTF is this error about? The kid lost interest a long time ago.....

I tried some of the simp,ear stuff, like LEGO robotics, etc. and some of those seemed so dumbed down to be uninteresting as well....
For some languages, it is a mess like that. In other cases though, the situation has actually gotten far better, as scripting languages are becoming increasingly powerful and support the REPL loop. Python is one language that comes to mind, where one can download an interpreter, launch it, and type 'print("Hello world")' into the prompt for an immediate result.
JupiterJones wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:03 pm This might make for some worthwhile reading:

https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/1 ... lving.html

From the article...
Coding books for kids present coding as a set of problems with “correct” solutions. And if your children can just master the syntax, they’ll be able to make things quickly and easily. But that is not the way programming works. Programming is messy. Programming is a mix of creativity and determination.

[...]

There are no books that teach you how to solve a problem no one has seen before. This is why I don’t want my kids to learn syntax. I want them to learn to solve problems, to dive deep into an issue, to be creative.
Disagree pretty strongly with the sentiment expressed in that article. Like many such articles, it takes a near irrefutable premise and takes it too far. Yeah, it makes no sense to force your kid to learn syntax in the hopes that it, and it alone will help them in their career. However, if a kid is interested in computers and programming, not letting them learn syntax is like not allowing a kid interested in cooking near the stove. Absolutely...don't make a project of teaching them every single knob and feature of the stove. But depriving them of the stove also deprives them of the vast majority of ways to express their cooking creativity.

Edit: Thinking about it, I can't think of any domain of creative activity where beginners are discouraged from learning the mechanics of their craft. Students learn new techniques by replicating existing work and then creatively applying those techniques to new spaces. Both are needed to get a satisfying result. The whole quoted statement from the article would sound absurd if applied to other fields. A character design class that focused on 'creativity' alone and didn't either teach or expect students to already know a bit how to draw a character would do their students a disservice, as, no matter how creative one tried to be, they'll never be able to express it in a stick figure.
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