So far in the Student Blogging Challenge, we’ve done a lot of creating and communicating with our blogs. This week, we’re looking at the more technical side of blogging and computers: coding!
I’ll be introducing you to my colleague who is an inspirational young coder and we’ll also be celebrating Computer Science Education Week (December 3-8).
Week Eight Recap
There were lots of great tasks submitted last week!
You can find them all here (or click on the week 8 box on the sidebar).
Let’s take a look at just some of the fantastic work we spotted last week:
- A number of students were inspired by Mrs. Vazquez and gave their blog a makeover. Check out some examples from Evelyn, Fraser, and Clay.
- Rhiann made a fantastic video to share a craft idea.
- Nandini from India told us about the Holi festival.
- Erica and Maggie reviewed Google’s Emoji creator.
- Keylee shared a photo that represents Christmas.
- Gabby has written an excellent piece about celebrations that includes some fun polls.
- Kai had a busy week trying 3 different tasks.
- Cassandra wrote about her favourite festivals and celebrations.
- Janae tried out a Christmas word search and wants to know if you can beat her time.
- You can view more great work on our 2018 Student Blogging Challenge Flipboard.
Remember last week we ran a poll to see which holidays our STUBC participants celebrate? We had 1015 responses!
Here are the most popular responses.
Other responses included birthdays, Eid, 4th of July, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Vaisakhi.
Tip: I made the chart above by entering the survey data into a free online tool called BEAM. It’s handy!
This is our penultimate (second last) topic for the 2018 Student Blogging Challenge. As some schools will be on holidays soon, I’ll publish the week 10 post early. It will be out on Thursday 6th December (Australian time). I’ll send out an email when it’s published.
Here are some additional reminders:
- The forms for weeks one to six tasks are now closed. You’re still welcome to complete these tasks at any time but won’t be able to submit them for our commenting team to visit.
- Have you moderated all of your comments? You could be missing out on some fantastic conversations and insights!
Now onto this week’s topic. Firstly, I’d like to introduce you to someone.
I invited a young coder who works for Edublogs to tell you about himself.
- Alex is a 17 year old school student in the United States.
- He became vision impaired during 9th grade and lost most of his sight within 6 months.
- Alex would LOVE you to comment on this post.
Over to Alex…
My name is Alex and I work as an accessibility developer and system administrator for Incsub which is the company behind Edublogs.
I started here at Incsub in May 2017 just days after I turned sixteen years old. I go to school in the day and work in the night. Although this job can be demanding, I always love the challenge it offers me day by day.
Alex’s role with the company
One of my main roles is to ensure all servers are running properly and respond when automation fails. Basically, I make sure we stay online.
I have helped with building infrastructure components and hosting. This means I built the parts that make our servers work to host our sites and helped with moving networks of websites to our servers.
My other working time is spent ensuring all Incsub sites (including Edublogs, CampusPress and WPMU DEV) stay completely accessible to visually impaired users who rely on screen reading technology. A screen reader reads aloud the screen for people who can’t see or have other limitations.
Although some would see visual impairment as something you can’t live with, I assure you it’s very possible.
When I first started at Incsub I was hired to provide live chat support for WPMU DEV (a WordPress company that’s part of Incsub). That would later translate into becoming an accessibility developer. (Developer is another word for coder or programmer).
I study our company sites weekly to ensure they are accessible to everyone. The sad news is most sites are not. Just because I cannot see very much, I cannot use a lot of websites.
Now I get to work every day to ensure all sites are accessible within Incsub as everyone deserves the same opportunity for accessing the web.
How Alex learned to code
Learning to code wasn’t all that challenging. I first started learning basic HTML in the 7th grade. It just took off from there.
I found WordPress, signed up for web hosting, and started learning the ways of web development.
Moving on from accessibility development, I ran into system administration (upkeeping and configuring servers). I started learning with a company called Linux Academy. It’s an online program that allows you to learn Linux concepts, Cloud basics, Docker, and a whole host of other subjects.
I’m still very much in the practice stages but getting better every day. It’s cool what you can do with servers and don’t let your disability stand in your way.
A coding career
It is very important to me that the younger audiences get involved with coding. Without the younger generation, the sharing of information starts to drop. We need to keep this open sharing idea around. That way, everyone can learn from each other. It is truly the sharing of information that makes everyone smarter.
Getting the young involved in technology should increase the chance of them finding a really good paying job in the future, after graduation.
Leave a comment!
What are you curious about? Do you have any other questions for Alex? He’s very happy for you to leave a comment on this post.
Below is a picture of Alex at work at a big WordCamp event last year (that’s a WordPress conference. WordPress is the software that powers 30% of the web including Edublogs and CampusPress). Alex is wearing the yellow and black hoodie.
Thanks all the people who were at the #a11y table of the #WCUS contributor day!
Especially @jdelia and Katherine White for testing Gutenberg for a full day.
And a big shoutout to Alex Stine, a 16 yr old web dev that helps with coding and testing with NVDA. pic.twitter.com/2pNT6ficIS
— Rian Rietveld (@RianRietveld) December 4, 2017
What Is Coding?
Coding is basically a set of words that tell your blog, a website, an app, a game, or other software what to do. Without coding, a computer or device won’t do anything.
Here are some videos that explain coding further.
This is a great one-minute video for younger students to explains coding.
Older students might enjoy this one-minute video.
This 4-minute video is also a great explanation for older students with a few more details.
Computer Science Week
Computer Science Education Week runs annually worldwide. This year, it’s being held from 3-8 December.
Many schools, teachers, and students participate in Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week.
Why is computer science worth celebrating and promoting?
This video shows us how computer science is improving so many areas of our life.
What is Hour of Code?
Hour of Code is designed to introduce young people worldwide to the basics of coding and computer science through one-hour coding activities.
While these activities are promoted during Computer Science Education Week, they can be done at any time throughout the year.
Coding And Blogging
In the early days of the internet, if you wanted a blog or website, you had to know how to code it yourself.
Nowadays, most of the hard work is done for us and anyone can claim a website in minutes. For example, you can go to edublogs.org and sign up for a free blog. You don’t need to make your blog. All you need to worry about is the design and content.
Despite that fact that you don’t have to know how to code to be a part of the online community, there are many reasons why having some basic understandings of coding is helpful.
Being comfortable with coding can help you:
- Customise aspects of your blog (like adding/editing embed code).
- Troubleshoot (when something doesn’t look right, you can check the code for obvious errors).
- Learn important skills like logical thinking, creativity, and communication.
- Consider a wide range of career paths and explore coding in more depth.
Week Nine Tasks
This week there are three tasks to choose from. (Edit: Comments for this post are now closed as there are so many for Alex to go through).
All tasks are suitable for student bloggers and I’ve offered ideas on how they can be adapted for classes.
Task 1: Leave A Comment For Alex
Edit: We closed comments for this post on 10th December as there are so many for Alex to go through. Alex is currently traveling and will share some responses with us when he has time. Stay tuned!
Go back and re-read the blurb above about Alex.
Alex certainly has an inspiring story to share. Despite being blind and a school student, he’s an outstanding self-taught coder and a highly valued member of staff at Edublogs.
If you have a question for Alex, write it in a comment on this post. Scroll down to find the commenting box at the bottom of this post.
Maybe you want to know about learning to code, using a computer as a blind person, managing school and a job, or anything else!
- Introduce yourself briefly — maybe say your age and where you’re from
- Read over your comment before you submit it and fix up any errors
- Check back to see if Alex has replied
If you’re working as a class on this activity, perhaps choose one comment to write together as a class.
Task 2: Try An Hour Of Code Activity
For this task, try an Hour of Code activity and write a blog post about it.
The Hour of Code website is jam-packed with activities that you can try!
A good place to start is the ‘student-guided tutorials‘. Don’t worry if you haven’t tried coding before, you’ll be walked through what to do. It’s fun!
Be sure to filter your search results to find a suitable activity.
- You’ll see the ages listed on the bar at the top from pre-readers up to Grades 9+.
- Along the left-hand side, you can also filter activities based on what technology you have and what topics you’d like to explore.
When you’ve tried out an activity, write a blog post about it. Make sure you include the link to the activity (a screenshot would be awesome too!). Review the activity. Tell your readers what you learnt and whether you recommend it to others.
If you’re working as a class on this activity, perhaps the teacher can write a post with a selection of activities for students to try. Students could write their reflections in a comment.
Teachers, if you want to run an actual Hour of Code program, this how-to guide should help.
Task 3: Try Some Code On Your Blog
If you’re using a platform like Edublogs or CampusPress, you’ll notice that there is a visual editor and text editor.
Switching between the two is easy but we mostly write our blog posts using the visual editor. It’s based on a ‘what you see is what you get’ framework (just like programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs).
Unlike the visual editor, the text editor requires you to add any formatting such as italics, bold, links, and spacing manually using HTML (although there are some shortcut buttons you can use).
HTML is a computer language that stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the standard language for creating web pages.
This activity involves trying some HTML by writing the code in the text editor. You can also use HTML in comments. When you’ve had a go at trying HTML, write a blog post about it and tell everyone how you went. Was it easy/hard? Did you learn anything new?
The instructions below show you how to use bold, italics, and add a link.
Remember, coding is about troubleshooting. So if something doesn’t work, take a closer look at your code. Maybe you’ve added a space or missed a symbol.
Too easy? More advanced coders can look up the HTML for different functions like headings, lists (bullet points), color, horizontal rule (line), and more. There are a LOT of guides to learning HTML online. You might even make your own cheat sheet and publish it for others!
If you’re working as a class on this activity, the teachers could publish a post and the students could try out the HTML in a comment.
Submit Your Post URL ⬇
If you want a commenter and other participants to visit your blog, remember to fill in the Google Form below.
Teachers, feel free to put the link to this Week 9 Google Form on your own blog if you’d like.
Our final topic: Reflecting on the Student Blogging Challenge.
Comments for this post were closed on December 10th.