Helping Kids Learn Abstract
Concepts in Coding
August 1st 2019
Teaching Is an Incredibly Rewarding Experience
However, it can also be quite unnerving, even for experienced instructors and program facilitators, when you’re put in the position to explain abstract concepts to young students.
Many concepts in coding, which are based on computer science and mathematics, often require a certain degree of abstract thinking. Due to this, younger students tend to end up lost as they struggle to visualize and relate the concepts to real world.
Thankfully, the internet provides a large variety of tools to aid student learning, from images to audio to plain text. Ultimately, you need to settle on one and the large number of choices available can make choosing one an overwhelming process.
If you often find yourself in the situation above, we’re here to help!
Visualizing Code with Videos
Videos stand out as a popular and effective way to transmit and consume information for good reason. According to cognitive experts, an effective and engaging learning environment requires the stimulation of our five senses, especially sight and sound. 1
We absorb the bulk of information from our surroundings through our eyes and ears.In our earliest years, we learned to recognize emotions by observing faces and we learned to speak by watching how our family members refer to different items.
Abstract concepts, especially in coding, demand a high level of mental visualization to comprehend. It is also not always possible to demonstrate the concepts in the classroom.
Videos are the perfect remedy to this problem. They allow us to relate abstract concepts to our reality and see how they can be applied in various real-life contexts without getting out of our chair.
Choosing the Right Video
Not all videos are created equal.
An effective video needs to be able to demonstrate how the concept works in real life. At the same time, it must be entertaining enough to capture your students’ attention. Given the complexity of most abstract concepts, few videos on coding manage to balance these two needs.
When selecting a video to use in class, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Does the video provide a relatable context for the concept?
    As mentioned previously, the strength of using videos lies in their ability to simulate the application of concepts in relatable, real situations. To be truly effective, the video must provide a context that makes sense for your students. In other words, it has to be a situation that is relevant to your students’ life. This is what we call contextual learning.
  2. Does the video present the targeted concept within the attention span of your students?
    The average attention span of today’s youth is 8 seconds (Gen Z). Videos must be succinct enough to capture their attention in those key 8 seconds and encourage them to continue beyond that timeframe. Since coding is often entirely new to most students, longer educational videos can seem overwhelming.
    We recommend videos that are between 1-3 minutes long. More lengthy concepts should be broken into a series of short videos. This makes the information more digestible, as it gives students the illusion of attaining mini-successes (understanding what is being taught) throughout their learning process. This is what's referring to as micro learning.
Examples of videos that fulfill the above requirements
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Instructions are the core building blocks in coding. This video explains how they work.
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This video explains how variables allow more complex instructions in coding.
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This video explains how if-else statements work in coding.
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This video applies instructions, variables and if statements in a game.
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This video applies instructions, variables and if statements in data science.
In a Nutshell
As long your selected videos contextualize the targeted concepts in real-life situations that are relatable to your students, while holding their attention, videos can make any coding lesson significantly more memorable and engaging.
We want to make finding and choosing these videos as fun and easy as learning from them. This is the philosophy which we apply in every course on EduCode™. Each animated tutorial video is uniquely produced and carefully selected to maximize your overall in-class experience.
About This Series
We started this series of blog articles to help instructors, facilitators and educators plan, run and teach STEM classes or programs more effectively. Lessons should be as enjoyable and engaging for the teacher as the student. We hope that the topics we cover will provide you with some new ideas, insights and tools to create a truly immersive learning environment for your students.
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