I decided to teach myself how to code... yes I was determined to learn HTML and CSS and Java and JQuery. Fortunately this past summer my graduate program literally threw me into the fire and the bit of coding I had acquired before hand was the life vest that kept me afloat and helped me to succeed. (My final project was an art website/blog for my sister.) Prior to the course however, I decided to try coding because like spoken word, it is a language. It's how we communicate with computers and it has become so deeply ingrained in all aspects of society. I can literally see a potential future where people actually talk in tags...
Technology is an integral part of our survival these days. I see it in two parts- the language and the medium. The language (coding) is the way we express ourselves through the tools (phones, computers, apps, video games) we use to make our lives convenient or fun. Many of us only participate on the medium end because we see the language portion as foreign, difficult and frustrating- and it is. However, many programs now make the language of code more accessible by simplifying the learning process and the fundamental concepts. In my personal journey with technology it's been much easier to adapt to using tools than learning the language which is why I began implementing the use and understanding of technology in the lives of my children quite early.
I bought an iPad as a first time ever gift to my self... I bought it when it first came out (something I never do) and then handed that $800 investment to my kids... Why? Not sure but it felt right. I felt awkward and clunky trying to read on the screen. I love reading but call me old fashion, I love turning pages and feeling paper. The organic feeling makes me feel more connected to the author while I read. I primarily bought the iPad for leisure- I wanted to read and play. But it was a forced relationship- I had a cell phone, a macbook pro and books, there was no room for an iPad in my life. So I handed it to the kids.
At the time the lovernauts were very young toddlers (in fact I only had 2/3 of my crew). This was before people started letting young kids use tablets and smartphones. In fact during that time (2010) people were saying that tablets were not for kids. People were puzzled at how I sat in a waiting room hands free while a toddler worked away on a very expensive electronic device. But I felt it was important that they try their hand at a flat screen that moved by human touch. There was something amazing about moving objects in space (although 2D) that provided them with a bit of power and freedom. Then the iPad 2 came out- with the camera. That ended up in the kids' hands too... And they've learned so much. We've explored new languages, colored in the lines, written our names correctly with well formed letters, and so many more hands on activities that promoted toddler, preschooler and early elementary skills.
Early involvement in technology allowed me to talk about the dangers of the internet early and in a relevant and appropriate way. It also peaked their interest and imagination. They believe that anything is possible. If you can talk to family on a hand held TV screen, make things move with your fingers and carry your entertainment and learning with you what are the limits?
What's next... Coding. Kids should learn how to code. In fact, it should be their second or third language requirement. They will be building and shaping our existence in the future and an early understanding of the tools will ensure a level of comfort and a level of limitlessness. My daughters' school participated in the global Hour of Code campaign and they came home chatting really fast about games they played to move objects with coding. They were excited and intrigued and eager for more. Being able to express yourself is powerful and being able to do so in a reality now deeply entwined with technology is beyond empowering, it's necessary.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.