Grok are a local Sydney company who ran the NCSS Python Challenge this year and who have released an excellent online course teaching Python programming. The clever thing about the self-guided course is the way it provides hints and feedback on the way. I’ve been using Grok for a few months now and have been consistently impressed with their product and service. They have free modules up for the Hour of Code in early December, so are easy to try out.
Anyway, Grok have just announced a more international competition: Code.comp. Much like the Python Challenge it runs over several weeks offering the chance to both learn and compete in writing code. The competition part gives the students a sense of purpose; but the underlying, and very effective, approach, is to step students through learning to code with Python. There are three levels to the competition nominally targeting the three stages of high school but also covering experience in programming from complete beginner through to significantly experienced. There is an overlap with the NCSS Challenge materials so any student who has done the earlier modules of the Challenge can move on to the intermediate or advanced modules.
The competition’s timing is clearly designed to fit in with the Northern Hemisphere school year and so it will take some pre-planning to work in Australian High Schools. The competition starts on 27 January which is before school starts back: So realistically an Australian school would have needed to have the logistics all tidied away before the end of this year. That said, the competition runs for five weeks and from an educational, as opposed to competitive, standpoint there’s no reason the kids can’t start in after the official beginning.
Grok is doing some very interesting stuff as is evidenced by one of their team, Nicky Ringwald, winning a prize at the Warren Centre’s recent Vision30 event. Nicky’s excellent speech on how education is changing is here. Point your eyes up and left to see her poster: Which also, strangely enough, serves as a nice potted summary of the Grok system.
For all the gory details on Code:comp head on over to Grok Learning.