Monday, June 26, 2017

Coding is Not a Four Letter Word

I am at ISTE and have lost count of the times today someone said "you can program this without knowing how to code." Usually they mean this because they use a block based programming environment like Scratch or Blockly or Snap! Well to me that is still coding. Just because the language is not text based doesn't mean it's not real programming or real coding. I come back to the idea that coding and programming can usually be used interchangeably. If anything coding is a superset of programming. HTML is certainly coded instructions but probably not really programming. At least not all the time. Arguably using CSS is programming of a sort. Arguably.

Personally programming or coding, how ever you want to call it, is what I am teaching. If it doesn't need coding than I'm probably not interested. Of course when I talk like that they tell me that I can also use JavaScript or Python or Java or any number of other more traditional programming languages.

Most of these companies are, I feel, really trying to sell some hardware. They must think that coding or programming is scary. Or perhaps that it is too much for someone. For students? For teachers? I'm not sure who. It shouldn't be scary though. It should be empowering. There is a place for block programming tools for sure. But some of us want the power and flexibility to say nothing of the easier transference of skills to other domains that text based programming languages give us.

So don't tell me your device can be controlled without programming or coding because you are using Blockly. That just doesn't compute. And real coding might just be what I am looking for.


Jason said...

Have to agree with you. Many block coding systems support all the main coding concepts you need to learn without syntax frustration.

Alfred Thompson said...

At some point you need to get into syntax though. After several semesters of blocks it should be time to move on.