Developer training company Pluralsight has released two free courses designed to inspire professional developers to teach programming to their own kids and perhaps even in their local schools.
For the first of them Pluralsight has partnered with Lynn Langit and Llewellyn Falco of the non-profit organization Teaching Kids Programming (TKP) which already offers free courseware on Microsoft's SmallBasic and Java aimed at teachers and at kids themselves.
In this customization of the TKP materials the idea is to help parents who are programmers to teach their own kids aged 10 and up (or younger if they have the keyboard skills) and the programming environment used is Visual Studio and C#. In the Introduction Langit and Falco outline their motivation for providing this material which includes their concerns about the lack of good courseware in schools and the declining numbers of students enrolling is computer science degrees at a time when there are good job opportunities.
They also explain their "Intentional Method of Teaching" which has the qualities of being interactive and experiential and takes guides kids to convert one line of English (the intention) into corresponding lines of code. Other features of the method are influenced by Agile Programming and include rapid feedback and pair programming.
Only one lesson (also referred to as a "recipe set") is provided in the Pluralsight video. It has five sections: the Recipe itself, Recap which goes over to main points, Variations, aka refactoring or hacking, Quiz and Homework.
The Wrapping It Up section of the course suggests there are more C# lessons on Teaching Kids Programming but so far there don't seem to be there - although if you are prepared to switch to Small Basic there are another twelve.
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The other course Learning How to Program with Scratch is taught by university professor Joe Hummel who has also authored some other Pluralsight courses. It has four and a half hours of content that guides beginners through downloading and installing Scratch 1.4 and then covers Coordinate Systems, Selection, Repetition and Variables.
The final, and longest section, on Patterns explores ideas in computer science and provides a good grounding in the subject.
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Given that Pluralsight claims an audience of 200,000 professional developers this seems like a worthwhile initiative - both from the point of view of helping developers who are also parents and also giving Pluralsight a presence in the online education market.
Commenting on the addition of the free courses to Pluralsight's otherwise subscription-based model of course delivery its CEO and co-founder Aaron Skonnard said:
"As the online education space, a potential trillion dollar segment, and industries upgrade technologies to stay competitive in a global economy, we feel an obligation to provide free educational resources around computer programming that can be incorporated into the school environment and introduced to kids at an early age."
And given that Pluralsight recently finalized its first-ever outside investment of $27.5 million from Insight Venture Partners it is to be hoped that it will decide to make some of its existing content free in the drive to provide the skilled workforce required for the technology-driven economy.
Meanwhile if you want to know more about Scratch and Small Basic see our Programmer's Guides to these kid-friendly languages.