Month: April 2016

3 Ways Learning to Code Develops Skills for Success in School

3 Ways Learning to Code Develops Skills for Success in School

It’s no secret that learning to code teaches valuable STEM skills. But what some parent’s don’t realize is that working with code teaches kids how to breakdown complex problems taught in other subjects, like science and math, by offering a visual approach. According to Stanford University taking a visual approach to math instruction at the K-12 level leads to more success in the subject.

Coding is a system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer, like language – the same type of language that is a vital component to how people communicate in many fields. Coding is a skill that can influence every academic discipline by providing kids with the opportunity to be creative, which helps with brain development. Students today use coding to create apps for science fairs, produce 3D printed art or even customize Minecraft Mods.

The skills that kids pick up as they learn to code transcend into many subjects. While it’s clear that coding helps students succeed in STEM courses, coding also helps with the development of skills necessary to succeed in other areas – like English and history.

These valuable lessons help students succeed throughout their academic careers, and beyond. Here are 3 ways learning to code helps in other subjects:

  1. Teaches kids how to engage. It’s not easy during a long school day to keep kids engaged. Memorizing names, dates and places in history class doesn’t interest most students. Learning to code – and create with coding – not only requires focus, but also encourages critical thinking. For example, school districts around the US, such as Fairfax County Public Schools use technology to encourage critical thinking in history classes, leading to higher engagement. With higher critical thinking skills students don’t simply memorize history facts, they think critically about how history is written and why.
  1. Teaches kids how to tell stories. When they create with coding, kids can see their ideas come to life. As they strengthen their ability to code, they create complex stories, which require thinking skills. In storytelling, kids need to understand the consequences of characters’ actions and come up with logical details. Knowing how to create complex stories and connect ideas is necessary in writing papers – especially in English classes where students are expected to explain and explore intricate themes in literature.
  1. Teaches kids how to organize. To see the results of their coding projects, kids must remain organized when entering numbers and symbols. One false colon and the project won’t display correctly! With coding, kids learn to pay attention to these details. Being organized is useful in any school subject whether it’s outlining a paper for English or taking notes for history. By the time kids reach their future careers being organized will be expected.

Learning to code is a valuable skill for success in any classroom subject and early exposure helps in integrating these skills into a kid’s life. In fact, a study conducted by Google found that students involved in computer science were 46% more likely to pursue this interest, which means they’ll succeed in other subjects through their education. As careers in computer science continue to grow and integrate into all professional fields, a well-rounded education will be necessary for success.

Teachers: Embrace the Full Potential of Technology Education Through Creation

Our recent byline was published by Getting Smart.

In January, President Obama announced his Computer Science for All initiative, proposing over $4 billion in funding for schools around the country to increase their computer science programs.

K-12 schools can use the funds to train teachers, expand access to high-quality instructional materials, and build effective partnerships that will help students across all regions, demographics and socioeconomic statuses gain the skills necessary to succeed in today’s tech-driven world.

Full Article: http://gettingsmart.com/2016/04/teachers-embrace-the-full-potential-of-technology-education-through-creation/?platform=hootsuite

Parents Use Technology to Drive Creativity

Parents Use Technology to Drive Creativity

There are a lot of stats regarding the use of technology by kids. Many caution that device and technology time can be a distraction versus an educational outlet. However, the reality is the way that we interact and engage in the present day is heavily digital. So how can parents find a way to pivot technology digestion into creativity? Here are three ways to take technology and turn it from a passive engagement to an interactive one for kids.

    1. Don’t just play games, create them. Playing games is fun and in many ways reinforces problem solving skills and other key ingredients to development. But what if you could take the passion for playing games and infuse a desire to create them. It’s not unheard of for kids to create their own video games, apps, and more. There are multiple resources out there that can get your kid learning to code including Scratch, Lissa Explains it All, and Kids Ruby.
    2. Don’t just watch YouTube videos, star in them. We are all guilty of spending time watching the most recent video sensation, but what if you become the next YouTube video sensation. Creating videos with your kids can help with project management skills, creativity, story building and more. Don’t just take our word for it, but check out one of our students who has created her own YouTube channel.
    3. Don’t just be social, inspire group interaction. Kids are actively leveraging social media, and while most parents are spending the majority of their time encouraging social responsibility, another great avenue for creating inspiration is through social media. Encourage your kids, along with you, to share their multimedia content they’ve created. So instead of just using it for conversations, start conversations by sharing the latest Mod for Minecraft, or the most recent video creation, or a customized app.

We are living in a digital era, but that doesn’t mean that digital equals consumption only.  Encourage your kids to look up from the screen and envision the next digital project they will create.

Parents: Technology Isn’t Just for Entertainment

Parents: Technology Isn’t Just for Entertainment

Technology presents numerous challenges for parents with young children. From frequent tablet and smartphone product updates to new video games and cartoons, technology plays a prominent role in kids’ lives.

Kids today consume more media and technology than ever before. In fact, those ages 8 – 12 spend an average of eight hours per day playing video games, watching TV or movies, checking social media, etc. The various devices, programs, and platforms keep kids quiet and entertained, but the educational value of what the kids watch – typically on multiple screens at once – is disturbingly low.

As technology takes on a bigger role in our everyday lives, the instinct to put a tablet or smartphone in kids’ hands to keep the peace shouldn’t be the norm. Instead, for the 60 percent of parents who admit to using tablets and smartphones to distract their kids, advancements in technology have actually presented the opportunity to introduce technology as a fun learning tool, not a distraction.

Learning skills in technology can turn the next generation into creators, not just consumers. The innovation within technology education has been immensely valuable in sparking this shift inside the classroom, but parents also need to help kids create and ask questions outside of the classroom – both valuable assets in shaping the minds of tomorrow.

Online technology courses empower kids to create their own games and apps, which can turn into profitable businesses. Technology offers endless opportunities for creation, so imagine what kids can create in the future if they’re learning now. As they build necessary skills in technology, kids can learn what their passions are and better prepare themselves for the next phase of their life or even their future professional careers.

Some parents believe that teaching kids with their gadgets is a way of “tricking” them into learning. But, 9 out of 10 parents want their kids to learn basic skills in technology. So, why not provide children with the opportunity to learn necessary skills for the digital age via mediums that they already enjoy?

There are three main areas where technology education provides numerous advances for kids, planting the seeds for passion and professional success and even the beginnings of an entrepreneurial mindset:

  1. Literacy for the digital age:Technology is an integral part of almost all industries, from healthcare to transportation. Accordingly, proficient technology skills and knowledge are critical assets for students’ future economic opportunity and social mobility.
  1. Job readiness:In 2015, there were more than 600,000 high-paying technology jobs unfilled, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields, according to the White House. Today’s students are tomorrow’s engineers, programmers, and entrepreneurs, and they will need a solid technology foundation in order to be successful, regardless of the industry they choose.
  1. Real-life skills:Technology education offers great benefits to students that translate to real life, regardless of career path. From problem solving to critical thinking, using and learning to create with technology helps kids acquire skills that will aid them in their educational, professional, and personal pursuits.

Teaching tech at a young age gives kids a competitive advantage in the growing digital era. In fact, a study conducted by Google found that early exposure is essential to creating interest in the growing computer science field. These skills need to be fostered not only at home, but also in the classroom.

Parents who encourage their kids to create and ask questions outside of the classroom fosters an atmosphere of learning and creativity. Technology doesn’t need to be mechanism for distraction. Embrace it as a method to draw out interests and hobbies that otherwise remain buried when kids simply consume technology instead of using it to create.

Infographic: 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Minecraft

Back by popular demand is our top 10 things every parent should know about Minecraft.

Many parents worry about their kids wasting time on video games, and also about the potentially violent or inappropriate content of those games. While it’s true that some video games aren’t suitable for kids, many games present a valuable learning
opportunity and can be a productive use of your kids’ time.

One such game is Minecraft®, the explosively popular 3D block-based video game.
But what is Minecraft, and why is it a great game for kids of all ages to play?
Here’s what every parent of a young Minecraft enthusiast needs to know.

YouthDigital-10-Minecraft

Youth Digital Named SIIA Education CODiE Award Finalist for Best Game-based Curriculum Solution

Server Design 1 earns prestigious education industry recognition

Chapel Hill, NC – Youth Digital, the leading technology education organization for kids ages 8 to 14 today announced that Server Design 1 was named a finalist for the 2016 SIIA CODiE Awards in the Best Game-based Curriculum Solution category. Server Design 1 is an interactive online course that teaches kids Java programming as they design and develop their own Minecraft world from start to finish. It was selected as one of the 160 finalists across 29 education technology categories.

“We’re thrilled to be selected as a finalist in this year’s CODiE Awards,” said Justin Richards, Founder and CEO of Youth Digital. “Our goal is to empower the next generation to be creative through technology and we continue to be impressed by the amazing projects our students develop.”

The SIIA CODiE Awards are the premier awards for the software and information industries, and have been recognizing product excellence for over 30 years. The awards offer 91 categories that are organized by industry focus of education technology and business technology.

“Every year the list of CODiE finalists is a case study of how the ed tech industry is using new technologies in combination with knowledge about how people learn to respond to customer needs. They’re opening doors for learners of all ages.” said Karen Billings, vice president and managing director of ETIN.

Winners will be announced during a virtual award ceremony on May 18. The top honor of best overall educational product will be presented at Education Industry Symposium, the nation’s leading education technology conference, in Denver July 26. The announcement will take place during a special celebration party and dinner.

Details about each finalist are listed at http://www.siia.net/codie/Finalists

###

About Youth Digital
Youth Digital offers a compelling mix of online courses that teach kids the critical technology concepts and skills that they will need to be successful in today’s digital world. With courses designed to be fun, interactive, and rewarding, kids ages 8 to 14 become digital creators through their breakthrough learning platform and cutting-edge curriculum. Students watch video tutorials, respond to questions, earn badges, complete interactive quizzes, and attempt challenging assignments as they step toward mastering key technology skills and professional-level software.

Founded in 2010 and based in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Youth Digital is committed to making technology education accessible to kids globally. Since its inception, the company has reached more than 60,000 students through its popular summer camp programs and expanding portfolio of introductory and advanced online courses. Today, students from more than 100 countries are enrolled in Youth Digital’s online courses in Java programming, game development, mobile app design, 3D printing, 3D animation, and more. For more information, visit http://www.youthdigital.com.

About SIIA
SIIA is an umbrella association representing 800+ technology, data and media companies globally. Industry leaders work through SIIA’s divisions to address issues and challenges that impact their industry segments with the goal of driving innovation and growth for the industry and each member company. This is accomplished through in-person and online business development opportunities, peer networking, corporate education, intellectual property protection and government relations. For more information, visit siia.net.

About ETIN
ETIN (the Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA) is the leading voice for 200+ companies that provide software applications, digital content, online learning services and related technologies across the PK-20 sector. ETIN drives growth and innovation within the industry by providing leadership, advocacy, business development opportunities, government relations and critical ed tech market information. For more information, visit siia.net/etin.

For More Information:
Katie Ackerman
SHIFT Communications for Youth Digital
kackerman(at)shiftcomm.com
617.779.1867

Allison Bostrom
SIIA Communications
abostrom(at)siia.net
1.202.789.4466

Youth Digital Releases Expansion Pack to Help Kids Code with Minecraft

Mod Design 1 lays the foundation by teaching kids aged 8 to 14, professional Java programming as they learn to code with Minecraft.

Throughout the modules, students watch videos and create their own unique Minecraft mods.

27-year-old Justin Richards founded the Youth Digital education platform in 2010 with the goal of inspiring the next generation of creators, not just consumers, of technology.

Read the full story: http://www.zdnet.com/article/youth-digital-releases-expansion-pack-to-help-kids-code-with-minecraft/

Creativity 2.0: How Parents Can Encourage Creativity Through Tech

Creativity 2.0: How Parents Can Encourage Creativity Through Tech

Remember when being creative simply meant drawing a picture of your family, writing a story or putting on a play? Times have changed, but our perception of creativity has stayed the same for the most part. At least that’s what we found in a recent study, conducted by Youth Digital, of parents with a child between the ages of 8 and 14.Graph

Technology has opened up so many possibilities for a new definition of creativity for kids, yet most still tend to think of crayons, paintbrushes, and pencils when arming children for a creative project. These tools are still an important part of the creative process for kids. However, this analogue creativity perception only scratches the surface of what’s possible today. Just look at some of the cool projects our students have created using tech.

The study solicited the opinions of 270 parents from across the United States. The survey showed that,  despite the fact that parents feel technology and science are the most important subjects for their child’s education, most don’t think of tech when they’re weighing their options for a creative project for their child.

In fact, 42 percent of parents surveyed listed science and technology as the most important subjects for their child’s education. On the contrary, only 1 in 5 parents thought about using technology first when thinking about creative projects for their child. Most parents (41 percent) thought of traditional creative projects primarily including painting, drawing or writing a story. That being said, it’s not surprising that more than 1 in 3 parents said that their child turns to crayons, paintbrushes, and pencils most often when they’re feeling creative.

However, it’s also interesting to see the difference in perspective between moms and dads. For instance, dads tend to put a higher emphasis on the importance of science and technology education, with 42 percent of dads naming them as the most important subjects. Only 33 percent of moms thought science and technology were the most important subjects. Interestingly, a science experiment was the first thing that came to mind for dads when they were thinking about creative projects for their kids, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) selecting it as their first choice.

We also continue to see a trend of parents becoming more involved with their child’s education across the board. When asked about their biggest concerns about their child’s education, nearly half (49 percent) of parents surveyed cited poor curriculum and ineffective teaching methods. This explains why more parents continue to look for outside resources to help foster their child’s creativity and supplement their education in key subjects like technology and computer science.

Technology presents an unprecedented opportunity for kids to gain valuable skills and use their creativity. Parents see technology as a critical component of their kids’ education and their lives, and there’s a growing opportunity to empower the next generation to have fun learning and be creative with tech.

4 Apps to Keep Your Kids Learning this Summer (While Having Fun!)

4 Apps to Keep Your Kids Learning this Summer (While Having Fun!)

Summer is just around the corner and you are probably already imagining ways to ensure your kids don’t forget everything they learned this year. While summer brings outdoor play, there’s also some amazing and engaging apps that will keep your kids wanting to learn this summer both inside and outside. Here are four that we are think are worth looking at.

  1. Stop Motion Studio. Stop Motion Studio helps you to create terrific stop action movies with a whole host of unique features including an integrated movie editor and zoom in/zoom out functionality. If your kid is looking to create amazing stop motion movies this summer, this is a great tool to get started and it allows for online sharing capabilities. iOS/Google Play
  2. Toca Blocks. Toca Blocks is a unique world-building app that lets you play in the worlds you craft. This app allows you to explore your creativity while problem solving how to take blocks and transform them into something else. iOS/Google Play
  3. Code Warriors. Code Warriors is a fun introduction to coding. While it doesn’t provide the ability for kids to code from scratch, it does provide an epic multiplayer robot combat game, where you learn coding basics while battling in both single and multiplayer missions. iOS/Google Play
  4. Animate Me. Animate Me allows kids to move 3D animated characters into action and create animated movies. While a bit basic in its complexity, the app allows for kids to explore 3D animation easily. iOS/Google Play

While we agree your kids shouldn’t be buried in apps all summer, there are quite a few apps out there that will explore  your kids creativity in an educational and fun way. If you think there’s one worth adding, let us know.

Youth Digital Releases Mod Design Expansion Pack to Help Kids Learn to Code with Minecraft

Company Expands Most Popular Course by Four Additional Modules for Java Coding Education

Chapel Hill, NC – Youth Digital, the leading technology education organization for kids ages 8 to 14, today announced the official release of Mod Design 1: Dimensions, an expansion pack for its most popular course Mod Design 1, which teaches kids professional-level Java programming skills. The expansion pack offers students four additional modules that allow kids to deepen their knowledge of coding with Java through creating Minecraft dimensions.

“Mod Design 1: Dimensions expansion pack is the number one request we’ve heard from students and parents,” said Justin Richards, CEO of Youth Digital. “This highly anticipated course builds off of skills learned in Mod Design 1 and gives kids the opportunity to extend their knowledge of Java programming through a customized Minecraft dimension. It’s a great way to deepen students’ coding knowledge while creating a really exciting final project they can share with friends.”

Mod Design 1 lays the foundation by teaching kids professional Java programming as they learn to code with Minecraft. Throughout the modules, students watch engaging videos and create their own unique Minecraft mods.

Mod Design 1: Dimensions teaches advanced coding skills and concepts, while allowing kids to complete challenging assignments, concluding with a cutting-edge final project that tasks students with creating a customized Minecraft dimension that they can actually play and share with friends. Course highlights include:

  • Advanced Java Programming: Students will take their knowledge of Java even further as they write code from scratch.
  • Complex Coding Concepts: Kids learn how to program more complex features for their mods, like custom portals, automatically-generating structures, and advanced artificial intelligence.
  • Professional Software: Kids improve their proficiency with a professional-level Java development tool, Eclipse.

“I’m so excited about Mod Design 1: Dimensions because Mod Design 1 was my favorite Youth Digital course,” said Youth Digital student Ronan Boyarski. “I already loved making my own Minecraft mods in Mod Design 1, but the expansion pack has taught me so much more about Java programming and how to create almost everything I have ever wanted to mod!”

Included in Mod Design 1: Dimensions:

  •     10 Hours of Instruction
  •     1 Year Expansion Pack Access
  •     Support from Youth Digital’s Online Teachers
  •     Self-Paced and Project-Based Curriculum
  •     Interactive Quizzes & Challenges
  •     Final Project with Instructor Assessment

To learn more about Youth Digital and its offerings for kids to learn to code with Minecraft, please visit http://www.youthdigital.com.

###

About Youth Digital
Youth Digital offers a compelling mix of online courses that teach kids the critical technology concepts and skills that they will need to be successful in today’s digital world. With courses designed to be fun, interactive, and rewarding, kids ages 8 to 14 become digital creators through their breakthrough learning platform and cutting-edge curriculum. Students watch video tutorials, respond to questions, earn badges, complete interactive quizzes, and attempt challenging assignments as they step toward mastering key technology skills and professional-level software.

Founded in 2010 and based in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Youth Digital is committed to making technology education accessible to kids globally. Since its inception, the company has reached more than 60,000 students through its popular summer camp programs and expanding portfolio of introductory and advanced online courses. Today, students from more than 100 countries are enrolled in Youth Digital’s online courses in Java programming, game development, mobile app design, 3D printing, 3D animation, and more.