Coding is a vital skill in today’s digital-focused world – not only are many careers dependent on coding as a primary skill, many other jobs now see coding as a highly attractive skill as well. This means that effectively teaching students to code is a surefire way to set them up for success in later life.
However, this puts a lot of pressure on teachers to get coding right – especially for those with limited experience of coding themselves. In fact, we’re no strangers to the fact that many teachers at some point will teach a subject far outside their normal purview. Luckily, there are a variety of different platforms online that can help teachers to improve their coding skills through professional development courses.
The question is, which online courses for professional development in coding should you choose? There are all manner of courses on offer across the internet, so this guide will go through some of the best options for coding teachers.
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Zenva Schools & Zenva Academy
Zenva Academy, the arguable “main” site has a vast collection of coding courses for individual learners – making it a great platform for teachers who want to dive deep into the topics for their professional development. Meanwhile, Zenva Schools is designed specifically for use by teachers in the classroom with their students, offering a beginner-friendly library of coding courses for students and teachers alike on the most important coding topics.
Regardless of platform, the professional development courses offered by the sites cover a wide range of subjects, from specific coding languages and skills to broader guidance on how to effectively teach coding to high-school students (at least in the case of Zenva Schools). The courses are created by industry-leading experts from the world of coding and programming, meaning that all of the platform’s resources are backed up by expert insights and guidance. Zenva is also partnered with a range of industry-leading organisations and tech companies such as the Australian Computer Society and Unity, giving even further expert backing to each course.
All of this makes Zenva Schools & Zenva Academy powerful tools for increasing your expertise and understanding of code and learning new ways of bringing coding into the classroom.
As mentioned, the usefulness of Zenva Schools doesn’t end as a source of professional development, however; it’s also an excellent tool for teaching coding in its own right. Zenva Schools provides a library of fun, project-based courses for high-school students, helping to get students invested in coding through engaging projects in game design, web design and more. There are also a number of additional features that make Zenva Schools a great option for use in the classroom, including:
- On-demand video and in-browser coding – meaning that students can access tutorials and practice their skills in any classroom context or at home
- Full source provided with exercise and downloadable written guides giving students an easily-accessible reference for when they need additional guidance
- In-course quizzes that make for great assessments, as well as a variety of projects and practical exercises that can also be used for assessment purposes
- A platform for student management, allowing you to track students’ progress through courses
Regardless of whether you prefer Zenva Academy or Zenva Schools, these sorts of features and breadth of content make Zenva a great option for both professional development courses in coding and for use in the classroom as an educational tool.
Code.org is a US-based non-profit organization that aims to improve access to computer science resources in schools. As part of this mission, it offers professional development courses and workshops for elementary and high-school coding teachers.
Code.org’s professional development resources are intended to help teachers learn new teaching strategies, take a deeper dive into Code.org’s own coding curriculum, and join an active community of computer science teachers to provide additional support and inspiration.
For elementary school teachers, Code.org offers two different workshops. The first is an introduction to coding for teachers who are new to the subject, while the second is a “Deep Dive” into the Code.org curriculum for teachers who are already teaching coding and computer science who need extra support and development.
For high-school teachers, Code.org offers workshops that are largely focused on training educators to deliver the organization’s own coding and computer science curricula. These courses are a commitment, however – participation requires that you commit to a full year-long professional development program and to teaching the Code.org curriculum in your school.
The other caveat is that both the elementary and high-school courses are only available at select locations in the US, or at a separately organized private workshop. However, for those outside the US, Code.org also offers self-paced online workshops.
The first workshop is again largely dedicated to teaching the Code.org curriculum, but still provides plenty of guidance and resources for teachers who don’t necessarily intend to use the Code.org curriculum in full.
The second, Teaching CS Fundamentals, takes a wider approach – while it still focuses on the Code.org curriculum, it gives helpful guidance on teaching practices for coding in elementary schools.
Besides these professional development courses, Code.org also offers a free library of hour-long coding activities and exercises through its Hour of Code program. As such, even if the platform’s professional development courses aren’t for you, you can still make good use of the site as an educational tool.
Teach Computing is a UK-based initiative run by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), which aims to invest in improving the provision of computing education in England. Like Code.org, Teach Computing offers its own curriculum that you can adapt for use in your own classroom.
More importantly, Teach Computing also offers an extensive library of teaching resources, including a wealth of courses and workshops for professional development. Teach Computing offers 135 different courses across a range of topics; as well as coding and computer-science-related subjects, there are plenty of courses exploring teaching methodologies and strategies.
These courses are a mix of in-person, online, and live remote courses. The in-person courses are only available if you’re based in England, however. Many of Teach Computing’s courses are completely free, and for paid courses teachers may be able to access bursaries to fund their professional development – although again teachers outside of England may not be eligible for these.
It’s not entirely clear which of Teach Computing’s online and remote courses are available to teachers outside of the UK, but for teachers who are able to access them, they represent an extremely helpful library of professional development courses and resources that are sure to prove invaluable for coding teachers.
Grok Academy is an Australia-based site that provides a wide range of classroom resources alongside a library of teacher training courses, webinars, and workshops. These resources are all authored by award-winning experts and tech industry insiders, meaning that they offer authentically expert insights into coding and how to teach it.
Grok Academy is a great option for Australian teachers due to its focus on the Digital Technologies curriculum, which can sometimes be overwhelming to get to grips with due to its fairly open-ended nature. If you’re struggling to incorporate Digital Technologies into your curriculum, Grok Academy is, therefore, a great option for building more effective lesson plans and learning goals.
The teacher resources offered by Grok Academy include support for assessments, guidance on which coding subjects to cover and how to teach them, and tips on implementing coding into cross-curricular subjects. Overall, Grok Academy is a great resource for teachers looking to improve their coding lessons – although Australian teachers, in particular, may get the most use out of it due to its focus on the Digital Technologies curriculum.
CompuScholar is an online learning platform designed for middle- and high-school students to learn coding and other computing skills through online courses. However, it’s not just for students – it also offers an introductory program designed to help teachers improve their technical coding skills.
CompuScholar’s free Skill Building Program runs sessions during each summer and winter, and allows teachers to take a CompuScholar course of their choice for free. These courses include introductions to specific programming languages such as Java and C#, game development platforms such as Unity, designing websites with HTML5, and more.
In addition, CompuScholar also offers monthly webinars separate from its Skill Building Program, covering a wide range of coding topics and teaching strategies. Many of these are specifically designed for teachers who already use CompuScholar’s platform in their classrooms, but may still prove useful for other coding teachers looking for additional guidance and lesson ideas.
Non-Coding Professional Development Resources
When teaching coding, knowing how to code is only half the story – you also need to know how to teach. As such, coding teachers should also seek out more general professional development resources alongside those specific to coding.
For example, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is a great general resource for teachers to gain new perspectives on what makes for a productive classroom. The ASCD has a huge, free archive of articles, webinars, podcasts, specialist reports, and more which can all offer valuable insights into effective teaching methodologies.
There’s also TeachersFirst Workshops, a series of free, virtual workshops designed to help teachers improve their educational skills. Each workshop is based around interactive exercises that apply research-based pedagogy, meaning they’re packed with ideas you can adapt to use in your own classroom. For teachers in the US, these courses can also provide professional development credits if you attend the live sessions.
For more webinars, you can also try Learners Edge. Learners Edge provides a free archive of webinars on a variety of topics within education, from looking out for your students’ mental health, to catering to special educational needs, to tips on keeping your lessons culturally relevant.
Another option is FutureLearn, a library of online courses designed to help teachers develop new skills and improve their teaching methodologies. FutureLearn offers a wide range of courses covering course planning, teaching strategies, inclusivity, and more, as well as a variety of subject-specific courses (including coding and other STEM topics).
FutureLearn’s courses are provided by educational institutions from around the world, so it’s a great resource no matter where you’re based. However, courses are time-limited – you can only sign up for free whilst the course actually runs, and you’ll have to pay for a subscription if you want to access archived courses.
Coding can be a difficult subject to navigate in the classroom, so it’s useful for teachers to have a variety of resources they can rely on for guidance when they need some extra support delivering effective coding lessons. The options in this list all provide a variety of teacher professional development courses that can help teachers to get more out of their coding lessons.
In addition, many of these websites also offer courses for students and additional tools for use in the classroom, making them even more useful for teachers looking for some extra support. Whichever site you choose, you’re sure to be able to pass on your new skills and knowledge to your students and help them thrive as coders.
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