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ConnecTech keeps mini coding classes going

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Students will find a way to be mischievous, even when learning remotely.

Coral Wells of ConnecTech and her crew discovered that when they launched a series of online mini coding classes on Tuesday.

“Some students are making faces into the video camera,” Ms Wells said. “It can be distracting for the instructors.”

But in this new digital education landscape, teachers have some high tech methods of controlling their students.

“We can control the mic and video,” Ms Wells said. “If they don't listen and stop making faces, we turn their video off.”

Luckily, ConnecTech hasn't had to do that very much because the students are loving the classes which allow them to make little games and animations and do other projects with Scratch, a computer language.

ConnecTech normally teaches coding to primary five and six students in government schools for an hour a day. When school closed last month, and Bermuda went into lockdown, ConnecTech wanted to continue, in some way.

They are now offering two online beginners and intermediate mini coding classes a day. The 90 minute classes are taught live through the Zoom app with the aim of developing computational thinking with Scratch coding.

Teachers can see each student's screen, to help if something goes wrong in the coding process, and the children can share what they are working on with fellow students. Through the activities, kids are not only learning coding, but also concepts that can be applied to other classes such as XY coordinates, loops, variables and sprites.

“It is a little different from the lessons we teach in the schools,” Ms Wells said. “It is not meant to replace school work; it is meant to compliment and help and give them another learning activity for the day.”

ConnecTech took their online classes for a test drive over the Easter break, offering them as an alternative to the Easter camp they normally run.

“The parents loved it,” Ms Wells said. “Some sat with their child every now and then. Others were able to get work done.”

Before starting the virtual classes, ConnecTech surveyed 150 students in the government primary schools to make sure they all had devices to access the classes. Only five were without devices.

So far, Ms Wells said, things are going very well now that school has started remotely.

“Kids are enjoying what they are learning,” she said. “Parents get an hour and a half to step away from their child to do what they need to do. It is teacher led.”

At the moment, Ms Wells doesn't think it would be feasible to continue the mini classes when school reopens. The internet in the school system can be challenging to access, and she prefers to meet in person with students.

“Sometimes it is a little bit difficult to explain things virtually,” Ms Wells said.

But she will continue the mini classes in the weeks that school is being taught remotely, although there might be some tweaks to the times they are offered.

ConnecTech says if this week's classes go well they might offer a wider range in the coming weeks of lockdown.

For more information see www.connectech.bm. To sign up go to www.eventbrite.com/o/connectech-coding-28588634335?fbclid=IwAR3BN6uE_tg0KaiJ4CwczIm8LkC6cJrb50TR33KMZfRc0sjLTCHS-8YhNEc. Also see them on Facebook under ConnecTech Bermuda. Call 400-3677 or e-mail info@connectech.bm

Coral Wells, ConnecTech CEO and founder (Photograph supplied)
A screen shot of a mini coding class being offered to public school students (Photograph supplied)

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Published April 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm (Updated April 16, 2020 at 2:27 am)

ConnecTech keeps mini coding classes going

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