Teaching the Next Generation to Imagine, Create and Code
Technology changes everything. From agriculture and medicine, to fashion, music, and sports – it impacts almost every field on our day-to-day lives and disrupts whole industries.
Kids are taught from a young age how to read, so they can gain knowledge from what others have written, and how to write, so that they can express their own ideas, thoughts and dreams. Digital literacy is similar. Consuming technology created by others is one thing, but creating with technology opens up new opportunities, allowing you to tell your story and express yourself. As Susan Wojcicki, Senior Vice President at Google, pronounced: “From phones to cars to medicine, technology touches every part of our lives. If you can create technology, you can change the world.”
The growing movement for teaching code
Over 30 years ago, MIT mathematician and researcher Professor Seymour Papert developed the first programming language for kids called Logo, with the belief that kids can develop their understanding of math, technology and the world around them by creating coding projects using this new language. His student, and an MIT Media Lab Professor himself, Mitch Resnick developed Scratch, an online community and a programming tool for kids, which helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
About five years ago, Code. org launched The Hour of Code as a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify code, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. Since then, it has become a global movement, attracting millions of kids from around the world and helping advocate for computer science education for everyone.
In the last few years, this energy is being seized up by more organizations and education systems. For example, schools in England and in some states in America are launching new initiatives to teach coding and computer science to all kids. They are engaging in an important process of reshaping their vision for what K-12 computer science education can look like.
We are pursuing similar goals here in Wix Education. Our vision is to enable kids to imagine and create. In our work, we focus on the 21st century skills and abilities – coding, curiosity, problem solving, creativity and innovation – thereby providing children from every background with the opportunity to tell their story and make an impact through technology. Just one way in which we’re realizing that goal is celebrating the Hour of Code in our offices around the globe this year.
We’re influenced and inspired by the Wix way, values and innovation, as well as by an extensive body of academic research on using technology as a tool for self-expression. Combining these two approaches allows us to shape unique and creative learning experiences for K-12 kids, based on the belief that technology is a medium for creation and conveying individual identity.
Why teaching kids to code is a necessity
Our work over the last year has only confirmed this belief. We’ve seen it come through in the workshops we’ve held for many groups of kids over the last year, giving them each the chance to experiment with the design of customized learning experiences using Wix’s tools – the Wix Editor, Velo by Wix and Wix Logo Maker. For example, kids that are entrepreneurs built a website for their initiatives. This action allowed them to advance their ideas even further, as they learned about the importance of defining a clear message, and then using website design to communicate it.
We also worked with groups that have never tried building with technology before. One group, of youth from under-resourced communities, used their time with us to build an online presence for their youth centers. Not only did they emerge from the session with a tangible product that can benefit the organizations of which they are a part, their ability to create something of their own signified a moment of empowerment. Many of these same kids went on to start building websites on their own; one created an online portfolio for a photographer, another a website for offering game and car recommendations.
Whether we’re working with beginners or those with some coding already under their belts, the results we’ve seen have remained consistent across the board. While we show the participants in each session how to get started, the real magic happens as the students jump in and begin exploring the endless options available. That’s the benefit of working on a platform that allows for the easy creation of meaningful and open-ended projects, all without losing an element of playful experimentation.
Equipping the next generation to create the future
Papert, the Professor from MIT who launched Logo, talks about the importance of creating educational experiences with a “low floor” and a “high ceiling.” Meaning, there’s a low barrier to entry, and the sky’s the limit. Resnick, his student, adds the criteria of “wide walls,” saying that learning moments should allow for a variety of projects to be created. At Wix, we have our own take on this philosophy. We call it: “Creation Without Limits.”
In the last scene of Back to the Future Part III, Jennifer and Marty show Doc that the note they brought back from the future was erased. Doc then explains that the reason for that:
“It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”
We believe that all kids should be able to write their own future, and use technology to do it. They are the next generation of dreamers and creators, and we must provide them with the opportunities to do good, both for themselves, and for all of humanity.
By Yossi Hayut
Head of Educational Innovation
By Moran Tsur