Code Kids Love

Danny Wahl's picture Danny Wahl  •   •  Education

I’ve been involved in technology so long that some times I forget how easy it is to introduce that “wow” factor to someone that’s never been introduced to it, and never had the time to become jaded to it. Unfortunately very often curriculum and standards forget this too. It’s not uncommon to hear sentiments along the lines of (paradoxically) either “Kids don’t know how to do anything with technology!” or “Kids should be doing robotics, solar powered go-karts, etc…” We’re simultaneously setting the bar low and high. And I believe that’s because tech is tough to get right.

To that end I’m not advocating the following as a “solution” to educational technology and the unique challenges that it presents, but rather I’m intending to show that sometimes it’s not as hard as we think. So, in an introductory HTML course that I’ve taught, using the awesome Codecademy Web Fundamentals course, these are the 2 “hooks” that get the kids engaged from the start:

<title>TYPE YOUR NAME HERE!</title>  

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but when a kid sees their name on the top of a tab in Firefox, it’s like black magic to them. Something they absolutely had no idea they could even do they now have 100% control over. It’s awesome. The second bit of code I’ve found that absolutely hooks students is this:

<a href="bing.com"> google.com </a>  

That’s all it takes. A link that says “Google” but goes to “Bing”. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. We’re all used to links doing what they’re supposed to because we design them that way and with good reason. But they don’t have to. You’re in control of the user experience and when a student discovers that the possibilities suddenly become limitless. And that’s what ed. tech should be all about; introducing students to possibilities.