While learning coding in school is all well and good, there is something to be said for clubs. Some kids are so enthusiastic about coding in general that they’ll happily join a coding club to expand their knowledge. Or, you know, their parents make them.
In either case, though, much like schools, coding clubs can be well-served by investing in an online learning platform. This way, students get to explore projects while still learning essential STEM-based education to boost their life skills.
However, what are the best platforms for coding clubs to find learning material?
Because of this demand, many teaching resource providers have excellent STEM-based teaching
In this article, we’ll explore what you should be looking for in a learning platform, and also some of our top picks for this area.
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What Is A Coding Club, And How Can A Teaching Resource Provider Cater To One?
A coding club is essentially an extracurricular program where kids can learn how to create basic code. One of the main features of a coding club is that they teach code in a team-based way; all the tasks and teaching revolve around group learning and team-building tasks. Doing this suits an extracurricular club more than individual learning.
The teachings in a coding club include:
- Teaching kids how to make basic code.
- Showing them how to use code to create games, websites, apps, and more.
- Teaching them how to work together to generate better code than something they could make on their own.
Because coding is becoming essential in the modern world, more and more young students are joining coding clubs in their free time.
What Qualities Should You Want From A Platform That Has Content For A Coding Club?
Before researching teaching platforms for coding clubs, you must determine the aspects you want from a teaching resource platform. The needs of a coding club are entirely different from the needs of a school, so you need to find a lesson plan resource provider that understands this and has suitable content.
Here are three qualities that a teaching platform for a coding club should possess.
It Should Have A Suitable Amount Of Coding-focused Content
You will likely find that many teaching resource providers cover a massive range of subjects with their resources. Therefore, you must find one that has plenty of coding content. Your best bet is to narrow your search to teaching resource providers focusing on STEM content specifically.
Additionally, you should want a teaching resource provider with various coding content types. For example, courses and resources on multiple programming languages; if a teaching resource provider only has resources for Scratch, you should want something that has a more expansive catalog.
It Should Have Content That The Club Members Can Complete In A Team
Teamwork is an element of coding clubs that sets them apart from a class in school. Most clubs like to give the coding club students tasks and challenges they can complete together. Therefore, an essential element that a coding teaching platform must have is an emphasis on teamwork.
Coding teaching resource platforms can promote teamwork by making resources that students can complete on their own or in a team. Additionally, they can include elements that are better for a group, such as extensive printable activities.
The Coding Teaching Resources Should Be Fun
Coding clubs aren’t schools; they are extracurricular clubs. Therefore, a strong sense of fun is essential for a coding club to excite its students.
The easiest way a coding teaching resource provider can make their resources more fun is to include a variety of tasks and activities.
- Complete coding video courses. If they aren’t too long and will keep coding club members engaged.
- Print-out activities. These are great fun for coding club members because they are physical activities that they can interact and have fun with (they are also perfect for group tasks).
- Interactive tasks. These can include things like games, slideshows with interactive parts, and interactive demos of specific coding software, and more.
- Assessments. These are usually quizzes. They are brilliant for determining whether a coding club member remembers the information they learned in the resource.
What Are The Best Learning Resources For A Coding Club?
Before choosing a teaching resource platform, you will want to know what coding resources are available. Because coding is a massive subject with many applications, teaching resource providers need multiple coding resource types to display the information effectively.
Although many coding resource types exist, some are more helpful than others. Here are some of the best learning resources for a coding club.
Introductory Coding Resources
Many coding clubs teach their kids how to create and understand basic code, so teaching resources designed to introduce them to the subject are perfect.
An introductory course will show coding club members how to create code using a specific coding software (Scratch, for example) and what they can use the code for (games, apps, etc.). They are usually broad, so they focus on making the overall subject sound fun and engaging for young learners.
Just to show an example so you understand what we mean here, Zenva Schools has a variety of introductory courses that focus on language basics or introducing a specific tool so students can move to actual projects.
- Intro To Coding With Scratch: An introductory course to teach the basics of Scratch. They can learn how to manipulate coding blocks, create computer instructions using complex flowcharts, understand repetition branches, work with sprites, and more.
- Intro to Coding with Python Turtle: An introductory Python course that teaches basic code and algorithms using Python Turtle. Specifically, it shows how to draw various shapes, manipulate aspects of shapes (the color, for example), and more with code.
- Intro to Object-Oriented Programming in Python: Another intro course for Python that focuses on older students with object-oriented programming. They can learn how to store fundamental data values, save data sets, create logic for programs with numerous functions, manipulate data, and more.
- Intro to Game Development with Unity: Unity is a massively popular game development software product, so Zenva Schools includes a top-quality resource to introduce the basics of the platform, including object creation, object manipulation, game basics, conditionals, and much more.
Project-based Coding Resources
Once you introduce your coding club members to a specific coding programming language, you can move them on to creative projects so they can become familiar with the functions and systems of the programming languages. This is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time, to be honest, as this is where the fun part begins.
Just to example again, Zenva Schools has multiple project-based coding resources, that focus on turning the introductory stuff into fun activities perfect for coding clubs.
- Scratch Projects – Beach Clean Up Game: An interactive project to create a simple beach clean-up game which simply involves clicking objects and tracking a score for win conditions.
- Unity Project – 3D Platformer: As the name suggests, a course where students get to learn how to make a basic 3D platformer complete with collectible coins.
Intermediate Projects And Coding Courses
If your coding club members have a good understanding of coding, you will want to task them with some advanced courses and projects (relative to the K-12 setting, of course).
The most important thing that an intermediate coding course needs to get right is the difficulty. If the kids find the topic too easy, the resource will feel redundant. It also must avoid repeating basic ideas that the coding club members already know. Of course, this does need to scale with age as well.
Zenva Schools, to example again, has a few intermediate coding courses that are perfect for groups who want to move to the next level.
- Intermediate Scratch – Self-Driving Car Simulation: A Scratch coding project that focuses on the topic of simulations and teaches more complex Scratch topics like how to detect specific collisions to trigger cars to stop.
- Intermediate Python Project – Pygame Game: Another one where the title is straightforward. Students here take their Python knowledge and learn to use it with the Pygame library. Unlike a game engine, though, students will learn aspects of manipulating art assets from code alone.
What Are The Best Teaching Platforms For A Coding Club?
Now you know what qualities to look for in a coding teaching resource and the available coding resources, you need to decide on the best teaching platform for your coding club.
However, because there is vast competition for teaching resource platforms for coding clubs, it can be challenging to choose one. Therefore, we have several options representing the best coding club offerings.
Brite offers a collection of teaching resources that primarily focus on coding. They currently have over 200 coding courses, 500 coding quests (coding-related projects), and over 750 coding-related challenges.
Most of Brite’s course content is provided by other big-name providers, such as Code Combat, Junior Engineers, and Zenva just to name a few. This allows them to have a huge variety in the content covered.
Brite also offers a lot of easy tools so teachers running coding clubs can manage the content – including making curriculums or tracking student progress.
This being said, since Brite relies on third-party content, consistency and quality does vary.
If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Udemy.
Udemy is an online video course provider where anyone can make a course to teach others. Their library covers just about everything imaginable – from interior design to simply how to manage your own stress. Unsurprisingly, this also means they have thousands of resources available for STEM-topics, including coding.
As you can imagine, the amount of projects available is beyond belief. Do your members want to make a web app clone of Facebook? There are surely courses to help there. Do your members want to make a wargame simulator? Surely some courses cover that too. The point here is that the options are endless.
On top of this, Udemy has a relatively generous pricing structure, so you aren’t going to break the bank.
However, Udemy also has two noteworthy issues. First, quality here will vary a lot because the instructors are so widely different. Second, Udemy is aimed at individual learners – so group-project content is going to vary.
Code Avengers is an online coding platform based in New Zealand. The platform is unique in that, taking inspiration from Maori philosophies, it emphasizes collaborative learning.
Another notable feature is the platform’s built-in IDE which allows users to build projects in their browser and also share them easily (a perfect feature for a club setting.
As the platform was intended for school, Code Avengers does come with some classroom management features. While you don’t need to use all of them, it can make it easy to manage club members and what they’re doing.
That being said, Code Avengers is not a cheap option, so keep that in mind.
Code.org is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing coding education around the world. They boast such accolades as having 67 million students and 2 million teachers using the platform.
As part of their efforts, Code.org offers free content on coding and STEM topics with a wide variety of focuses on topics like games, web development, and more.
What truly makes Code.org stand out for coding clubs are its labs. Knowing that not every student has a state of the art computer, Code.org offers three browser-based solutions for developing projects. This includes apps, games, and web development projects.
On top of this, Code.org offers several resources for teachers about teaching coding, so there isn’t any guesswork there either.
One last note is that Code.org includes a ton of Hour of Code activities which is perfect for the coding club setting.
All this said, be aware that there is a bias for elementary and middle school. High school students are going to be a bit left out.
If you don’t mind a singular focus, Codesters is a good option for the sheer fact it was specifically designed to be used with schools.
Codesters focuses specifically on using the Python programming language to convey coding education. However, the unique part of this is that Codesters takes a middle-man approach.
Instead of coding blocks or plain text, Codesters offers a tool that combines the two. Students have a drag-and-drop interface, but the blocks are actual ready-made text code used in actual Python. In this way, students don’t have to tediously type, but still learn practical coding syntax. On top of this, it is a lot more accessible than other platforms.
Since it was made to be used in schools, Codesters also offers a full-blown LMS. This includes the standard features such as classroom management, progress tracking, and more. There is even automatic grading which can be leveraged in various ways for coding clubs (even if it’s not necessary).
There is one noteworthy catch here though: the courses here are specifically aimed at ages 11 to 14. So, other ages are gonna have to adapt or look elsewhere.
Last but not least, we can’t leave out Zenva Schools since their content was used to exemplify resource types you’ll want to have.
Each course comes with a huge variety of ways to learn. Users can explore the video lessons, read the text-based lesson summaries, participate in interactive activities in the browser, or even take fun quizzes. Did we also mention that almost every course is designed with a project in mind?
Beyond all this, Zenva Schools also comes with classroom management features and student reports ot track progress. While not strictly necessary for a coding club, they can come in handy depending on how you want to run it.
Which Platform Is The Best One For Coding Clubs?
There is a lot to think about when choosing the best coding club platform. And, at the end of the day, “best” is all down to personal preference. We do hope, however, to have given you food for thought on what to look for and options to explore.
However, we do think Zenva Schools here is a top contender, if not just for the sheer amount of content it provides that is perfect for the coding club setting.
Regardless of what you pick, remember to prioritize fun so members get the most out of their coding club!
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