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Coding 101: Teaching the teachers

B.C. teachers are getting up to speed with coding.
Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomas gives speech during a teacher's coding workshop at UBCO

B.C. teachers are getting up to speed with coding.

During a two-day workshop at UBCO, teachers around the Okanagan/Shuswap learned techniques to better integrate coding into their districts.

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson was in attendance, announcing the provincial government’s involvement. Schools in B.C. are now required to have coding and computational thinking in their curriculum as of 2018.

“Coding teaches children critical thinking skills to help them be successful in whatever path they choose. It’s really a core competency with all the new technology, so that’s why the government has provided funding support to bring it into the curriculum,” said Thomson.

The government is funding the training sessions, with $6 million going into the coding initiative and $2 million invested in training programs, he said.

More than 40 teachers, school district employees and tech experts attended the session, Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Graham Johnson, tech consultant for the Central Okanagan school district, said he’s attending the event to learn how coding will be embedded in the curriculum and how the government’s funding will play out.

“I think coding is important in the schools because it’s one of those skills that students are definitely going to need down the road. One of the comments that was just made (at the workshop,) is there is a million lines of code (required in) order for you to get a Starbucks every morning.”

Josh Vance is the technology and innovation coordinator for Vernon’s school district and attended the workshop to further his understanding of coding.

“I do work within that realm. There’s a real need for our teachers to learn more about this to provide more opportunities for our students. It’s almost approaching the level of our languages… coding is starting to move up to that level where it’s a language that kids need to know to have success in our world,” he said.

The workshop was presented by Lighthouse Labs and Kids Code Jeunesse.

Don Burks, head instructor with Lighthouse Labs, said the workshops are teaching teachers about computational thinking to prepare them to teach students.

“Teachers are the way to get the message out,” he said.

The UBCO workshop was the fourth workshop for teachers held in the province so far.