We taught programming and working-life skills to students in Malaysia using project-based learning approach entirely online. Our goals were:
- To test how well a student-centered approach and project-based learning model for teaching coding is transformed to an online-only environment
- To test how such pedagogy for teaching 21st century skills is received by Malaysian middle school students.
Coding skills have become an important future skill set in our modern world. Many countries have introduced coding in their curricula. It is often highlighted that coding skills belong to everyone rather than only the most talented, or only for boys.
The importance of coding competencies is reflected by the huge amount of online materials. Much fewer attention has been given on how to teach coding effectively to the masses. If coding skills are to be made accessible for a wider audience, up-to-date pedagogy is needed. Coding pedagogy differs from pedagogy for other subjects. Online environments add their own special features to the learning situation.
The online course was conducted during 27 Nov – 21 Dec 2020. Participating students were from the Treacher Methodist Girls’ School, Taiping, Perak or alternatively participate in technology classes run by the Penang Science Cluster in Penang.
Alltogether 44 students participated in this pilot. All students were 7th graders, 13 years old. 86 % of the participants had not tried coding before the pilot course. The local teachers attended this pilot to learn the methods while a Finnish teacher was conducting the course online.
Data was collected as feedback forms, a quiz, teachers’ observations during the online lessons and an analysis of students’ final presentations.
Content & methodology
The course contents were a selected part of one regular Code School Finland course.
During the course, Code School Finland teacher conducted an orientation to the basics of Python programming with students testing and exploring the syntax and commands by writing small pieces of code.
Then students formed teams of four to establish fictional software companies and to work on project assignments to implement Python programs.
The pilot course content:
Part 1:Introduction (3 x 2h online sessions, each session consisting of 2 lessons)
Part 2:Project (3 x 2h online sessions)
62% of students had a very positive attitude towards coding and 38% had a positive attitude. None expressed a neutral or negative attitude.
Average feedback from participating students was 4.76/5 when asked to evaluate the course including teaching materials.
Average feedback from partitipating teachers was 5/5 when asked to evaluate the course including teaching materials.
Results of a surprise quiz to test Python command knowledge after just 4 lessons was 5.26/7 which shows a high level of motivation for learning.
All students teams completed successfully the project assignments with fully functioning Python programs. Furthermore, some of the teams even made advanced versions of the solutions to show off their skills.
“I understand what is coding program now through the course.”
“Now u have shared the importance of python in my life. I will make sure that I make good use of this knowledge.”
“Using trinket.io was a very useful way to teach us. It’s simple and easy to understand.” “Programmes like this should be held more for the learning of every children in this world.”
“I was able to follow what the teacher was teaching and I got to learn new things about Python.” “This program is fun and interesting and I would like to join it next time”
A teacher’s role as a coach rather than as an expert was promoted in the online environment. The project teams quickly developed working routines and internal collaboration. They became self-directed, meaning that very little intervention was required by the teacher during the project phase.
Comments from observing teachers:
“It is a great introduction of new and complex skills with something simple, fun and interactive.”
“Gives a good opportunity to the students to develop their skills in programming”
“Good about the online learning environment is that there are no barrier or limitations to students to do cooperative learning”
“About materials: notes are simple but make a good reference. Materials are easy to operate”
Online success enablers
1.Leveraging online chat channels during and in between the teaching sessions mimiced the collaborative environment of a traditional classroom and enabled active co-operation
2.Peer-assessment helped build positive peer relationships also between students who did not know each other in advance. Peer learning was eminent and reported during the final presentations by students themselves.
3.The playful setup inspired students: the teams did not only produce fully working computer programs but they also paid great attention to their fictional company slogans, values and appearances. Their final presentations showed commitment, enthusiasm and dedication.
Treacher Methodist Girl’s School
The TMGS is a public secondary school in Taiping, Perak, Malaysia. It was established in 1889 as one of the earliest all girls’ new school in Malaysia.
Penang Science Cluster
PCS is a non-profit organisation with a mission to spark interest in science and technology and creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. PCS runs a variety of programs with schools in Malaysia and supports school teachers’ professional development.
About Code School Finland
We help educators implement a 21st century skill curriculum as part of their school program. Our modular curriculum for coding, robotics and artificial intelligence improves student learning and supports teacher professional development. Our pedagogical approach puts students in the focus of the learning process to promote meaningful and active learning, to increase motivation and to reach beyond memorization and rote learning.
Full case study
To discuss how we can help you utilize Code School Finland education in your country, or to request your copy of the full case study please contact [email protected]