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The 74: To Welcome Students Back to In-Person Learning, Build a Coding ‘Playground’ to Boost Their Academic & Social-Emotional Skills

Posted By KinderLab Christina On June 7, 2021 in Media Coverage

In this 74 Million article, KinderLab Robotics’ Co-founder and Chief Scientist, Dr. Marina Bers, describes how coding can help students get up to speed in both academic and social-emotional skills when they return to in-person learning.

About Coding as a Playground and KIBO
“Coding offers an opportunity to re-engage children into communities of learning in a holistic way, supporting both a range of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — and soft skills. The metaphor at the heart of my book Coding as a Playground can help to explain how.

To illustrate the idea of coding as a playground, contrast playgrounds with playpens. A playpen is safe, but very limited. I can put my child in a playpen while I cook and know that she’s going to be okay, but she’s limited in terms of opportunities for learning, discovery, socialization and creativity. Playpens do not offer the same opportunities as playgrounds.

As children play, interact and communicate on a playground, they are developing physically, socially, linguistically and emotionally. There are even opportunities for moral development, when, for example, a child decides whether to cut in line for the seesaw or go to the back and wait. Playgrounds are open, creative spaces that support six behaviors of the Positive Technological Development framework that I developed, which I call the six Cs: communication, collaboration, community building, content creation, creativity and choice of conduct.

When educators think of bringing coding into the classroom — or using new technologies with students — they should create just these sorts of playground opportunities. For example, with the KIBO robot developed in my DevTech research lab at Tufts University, we hope to facilitate coding playgrounds for young children that will give them the chance to play different roles: the coder, the scanner, the builder.

As students return to the classroom after an extended period of uncertainty and trauma caused by the pandemic, coding playgrounds that welcome socio-emotional development, collaboration and creativity can be a powerful tool for reintegrating students into learning communities.”

Read on for the full article.