In July 2020, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES) published The educational use of computer programming, a guide for preschool, primary and secondary school teachers. Have you seen it?
Through this publication, the Ministry aims to demystify the use of computer programming (also called coding) and robotics in the classroom. He also wishes to contribute to reflection on the subject by proposing educational avenues to facilitate the integration of coding into teaching practices.
Coding, an educational activity
The popularity of school-based programming is currently experiencing a second wave. Indeed, after language Logo and his famous turtle from the 1980s, here is the cat from Scratch is spreading in schools around the world. Easier-to-use applications, sites devoted to programming such as MTL code and nice little robots like Bee-bot contribute to this success. Helped by the ministerial budget measure which allows schools to acquire digital didactic resources used for teaching, coding is slowly taking hold in classrooms in Quebec.
Reference framework for digital competence
In itself, the 12-page MEES document is not a program or a policy. Rather, it is a leaflet that situates programming and robotics in the Québec school training program and more particularly in the Reference framework for digital competence. One of the elements of dimension 2 (Develop and mobilize their technological skills), consists of "developing their computer thinking, in particular by developing their understanding and skills with regard to computer programming". The document also recalls the positive effects of programming on young people such as engagement, creativity, problem solving and exploration of careers in the field of technology, for example.
Activities within everyone's reach
The MESS document also underlines the importance of the teaching posture, where the teacher is not necessarily an expert, but rather a guide. To this end, there is no lack of digital resources in school programming, and co-learning with students is a relevant approach. The MEES reminds that the evaluation of the process is more important than that of the finished product. Computer programming no longer consists of typing a series of incomprehensible codes on a computer; coding activities are now presented under six categories, including unplugged activities (using a deck of cards) and visual programming (in blocks or pictograms). Coding is now accessible to everyone, even toddlers.
Finally, the guide offers professional development opportunities through self-study offered by STORY Campus and CADRE21, also partner of online training to the École branchée.
The automation of processes, the omnipresence of digital technology and artificial intelligence are realities that our young people will have to contend with shortly. Programming and robotics can prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow. Many speak of computer programming as a skill of the 21e century. With this guide, the MEES invites the world of education to recognize coding and robotics as teaching methods in their own right, at the service of disciplinary and transversal skills.