DCSD to Adopt Karel

Today we visited the beautiful city of Minden and met with Dr. Lisa Noonan, the superintendent of Douglas County School District (DCSD). Her school district has over 6,000 students. Dr. Noonan is an impressive administrator – she actually solved the 20 exercises of the Hour of Code tutorial. If I can do it, you can do it. Some of her schools already are using the NCLab’s Karel programming course in after-school clubs and even in classroom. Based on what she’s heard from them, she decided to invite us and discuss a possible district-wide implementation of this course.
She had a few teachers with her. It was amazing to see how much agreement we had about approaches to teaching programming at elementary schools. They knew Scratch and confirmed, as many educators before, that students do not learn how to type code, and therefore they have hard time moving to real programming languages such as Java or C++. We also had a 100% agreement about the conclusions of my article Karel vs. Scratch. In that article I explained that typing code is an essential skill that does not come automatically – it has to be learned – and that one needs to be extremely careful about the syntax: Every colon, semicolon, decimal point, comma, brackets, parentheses etc. create an opportunity for failure, discouragement, and frustration. Therefore, about the worst idea an educator can have is to “teach the students the real stuff” such as Java, C++ or Javascript.
To conclude, we are very excited to serve another school district in our state!