Due to the availability of Internet and its sources of information, there are more and more kids who start looking for contents about subjects they feel passionate about and they can’t study at school in a daily basis. Thus, when they reach adolescence and follow their own curiosities and motivations, they start learning by themselves through blog sites, specialized forums and other documents shared on the cloud.
Learning programming as an autodidact has some advantages, but it also has many disadvantages because of the nature of the subject we are talking about. Although it is a learning method that requires plenty of effort and produces true satisfaction when the student achieves the expected results -as well as it makes us prove ourselves, it constantly awakes our own curiosity and it allows us to learn at our own pace-, programming and robotics self-taught learning is not easy if we want to acquire in-depth knowledge instead of learning how to use specific programs and languages.
One of the main problems self-taught programmers have to face is the existence of knowledge gaps which are initially ignored by autodidact students and that afterwards will difficult the comprehension of the following subjects. In other words, since there is not an organized study plan, self-taught students tend to overlook lots of details that they will miss at some point in order to keep learning and stop making mistakes while developing they own projects.
Codelearn does support self-taught learning, as it favours the development of personal skills that help us solving problems, which is exactly what we are looking for by boosting computational thinking. That’s why we respect the learning pace of each student, who can choose which days and at what time he wants to come to the centre, besides the hours of dedication he invests to progress and complete the challenges and exercises in the platform.
In this sense, the biggest point in favour of the Codelearn method is that we use a sophisticated study plan designed by IT and pedagogy professionals, so students can learn autonomously but with the warranty they are always following the proper contents for every step in their learning path. Thus, they can acquire the basis of programming in a solid manner and without knowledge gaps. All this, with a mentor’s support (instead of a regular teacher) that will always be open to guide and help the students when they need it.
In addition, when they make some mistakes that are hard to identify due to these knowledge gaps, students can get really frustrated because they are completely alone and they don’t have another pair of eyes that would be able to identify the problem, help him, explain the details he has forgotten on the way and avoid the student’s deadlock. And this help doesn’t need to come only from a teacher but from a social environment with different people and no feeling of loneliness. It is true that there are plenty of forums to ask questions, express doubts and share knowledge, but direct contact with other people with whom one share the same interest (programming and robotics) has a social component that affects the student’s mood and transforms programming learning into a collective activity instead of an individual one.
For that matter, although each student can choose his schedule, at Codelearn we try to group kids from similar ages so it gets easier for them to make friends with kids their own age who have the same interests. Also, we tend to boost teamwork during the year through a team competition system, which makes learning a funnier activity but also forces all students to work as a team, so they can develop and improve social skills that are important in every sphere of life.
Finally, another problem about self-taught learning is the difficulty to prove or demonstrate the acquisition of certain expertise. There are lots of companies that ask for some official documents from centres or institutions certifying that the future employee really has the required skills for the job, the same way there are companies asking for language skills certifications even if someone has learnt a foreign language while living in a foreign country.
Codelearn has created its own certification as a recognition of the skills and abilities acquired by our students throughout their studies in our centres. This way, we have established three levels (A, B and C) which certifies the acquisition of predetermined knowledge. This certification can only be achieved by passing the official Codelearn exams and it is a way to recognise the competences of the students and specify all of them in the labour market by comparing these levels with other regulated studies.