Programming is the process that makes it possible to create computer software, applications and websites. Currently, computers are unable to think for themselves; they require users to give them sets of ordered instructions to know what to do. This is referred to as 'code'. Most of the resources you use on the computer and internet are made with code. Programming is a core element of the Digital Technologies curriculum because it helps students develop essential skills such as problem-solving, logic and critical thinking.
Visual programming, also known as block-based programming, is the coding language prescribed in the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies for primary schools. This type of language allows users to create programs by manipulating elements graphically rather than writing them in text format.
A programming language or environment where a program is represented and manipulated graphically rather than as text. A common visual metaphor represents statements and control structures as graphic blocks that can be composed to form programs, allowing programming without having to deal with textual syntax. Examples of visual programming languages include: Alice, GameMaker, Kodu, Lego Mindstorms, MIT App Inventor, Scratch (Build Your Own Blocks and Snap).
Note: A visual programming language should not be confused with programming languages for creating visualisations or programs with user interfaces, for example, Processing or Visual Basic.
Learn more about it
This tutorial provides step-by-step instructions and images to support the learning of this visual programming language. The tutorial is designed for educators who would like to learn how to use Scratch.
Through this website, educators explore and share resources and strategies to teach coding.
This is an online resource for teaching computer science to students. This chapter provides an introduction to coding.
This webinar explores how Google Apps for Education resources and initiatives can be used to support the implementation of coding and computational thinking in the classroom.
This course introduces the fundamental concepts of the Australian Curriculum – starting with algorithms and data representation and moving toward an introduction to visual programming.
These videos, uploaded by Brian Aspinall, provide practical advice about coding and other aspects of implementing digital technologies.
This resource provides information for teachers about topics such as computer systems, algorithms, computer control, robots and computer programming. It also covers internet, searching and internet safety.
This book viewable online using the 'look inside' feature or purchased in hard copy provides a comprehensive guide to programming for all levels.
How to teach it
Students design a sequence of steps for others to follow. They convey their instructions to peers and evaluate the work of others to determine if the outcome was successful.
This sequence integrates science as students grow a plant from seed. They capture each step and decision as an algorithmic process and record data for future learning.
Students follow and describe a series of steps to program a floor robot. They plan a route to program a robot to follow a path and write a sequence of steps (algorithm).
In this sequence students implement a digital solution for a maths quiz. They test and assess how well it works.
Create a computer program to learn a traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language.
For the classroom
This is a series of self-paced interactive games that progressively introduce programming concepts and challenge students to apply these to solve problems.
Move the Turtle is a purchasable app for iOS devices designed to teach primary students the basic concepts of programming.
This website provides a link to Tickle, a free app that enables you to program various robots and air drones. There are also supporting resources.
Students create 3D games and simulations with StarLogo. They can use the tutorials to get started.
This programming puzzle app is available for use on multiple devices. It teaches students coding concepts as they guide a robot to solve problems and light up tiles.
What other schools are doing
AISSA Humanoid Robot Research Project
Thomas and Pink are two humanoid robots that are making programming and robotics exciting and intellectually stimulating learning frontiers for students in Independent schools in South Australia
With an intentional focus on the new Digital Technologies curriculum and commitment to ongoing professional learning, St Finbarr’s School in Ashgrove, Queensland, is seeing positive changes. Emily Olsen is the eLearning Coordinator at the school. Here, she describes the key elements that led to change in her school.
Students share and extend learning
This is a world-record attempt to get the most number of children coding at once – and on the night of a full moon!
In this competition students develop a technology project of their choice and then present it to a panel of judges. Projects are submitted in two categories: years 3–6 and years 7–12.
Scope IT offers three different courses: Creative Coding, Bits and Bytes, and Digital Lifestyle.
Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems (ACTDIP004)
Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010)
Implement simple digital solutions as visual programs with algorithms involving branching (decisions) and user input (ACTDIP011)
Design, modify and follow simple algorithms involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (repetition) (ACTDIP019)
Implement digital solutions as simple visual programs involving branching, iteration (repetition), and user input (ACTDIP020)