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[Interview] SUNY Korea Student Club “CO;Ders” offers Free Coding Class

SUNY Koreaㅣ2019-10-31 09:46

CO;Ders, a student club at SUNY Korea, recently started offering a free coding class for children. The class was held at Canada Maple International School (CMIS) in October, and will be held at Sinjeong Elementary School in November. Both schools are located in Songdo, Incheon. 

As the government has put new priority on coding education, moving up the mandatory start time for such classes from middle school to elementary school, the demand for such classes has risen. On October 25, we met with Sungmin Sohn, a freshman in the Computer Science Department at SUNY Korea, who was one of the main instructors of the CMIS coding class. 

Q. What does Cod;ers do?

The name “CO;Ders” is the combination of “code” with “ers (people doing something).” We welcome anyone who is interested in coding even if they are not computer science majors. 

Nowadays, we call ourselves Phono Sapiens over Homo Sapiens, the people of the smartphone era. As the industries like IT, computers, semiconductors, AI, and big data are in the spotlight, more and more students and their parents are interested in computers and coding. However, coding education is expensive and related programs are not well-established outside of Seoul. That’s why Cod;ers exists – to offer free coding education for young students. 

Q. How do you teach the student coding?

Today, we are teaching CMIS elementary school students. Not all club members are good at coding, but we are divided into main instructors and assistants so that we can help each other. Two main instructors demonstrate how the coding works on the big screen at the front. Then students watch, listen, and follow the process. For the students behind, our assistants help them to follow and encourage all students to participate. We teach the students with a “Scratch”-based web coding program for four weeks to create four games, one game per week. 

Q. Can anyone learn coding in four weeks?

As we are utilizing the Drag-and-Drop web coding program called “Scratch”, they can. The program is very useful even for children to understand the syntax, which is a very important part of coding, in the form of blocks like puzzle games. It is a very easy and fun tool to learn coding for anyone in a short period of time. 

Q. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

At first, we faced problems with the younger students who could not catch on as quickly as we expected. To solve the problem, after every class, we ask the students where they were having problems, and then discuss how to solve those problems in the next class. 

Q. What is the goal and future plan?

As I mentioned earlier, more and more people are trying to learn how to code, even those whose major is not related to computer science, to grow their competence in our rapidly changing world. Business students also study data science and big data which requires some knowledge of coding. In fact, as a computer science major, coding is not easy, but it is very fun at the same time. We don’t want young children to have the prejudice that coding is hard, painful, and nerdy. We want them to have coding experience in advance and show them how easy and fun coding is. This is our biggest goal. In addition, we are planning to teach robotics coding at Sinjeong Elementary School in November. The education is free as well. We are also very excited and working hard to prepare for that.  

For more information about SUNY Korea Computer Science, please click here.

Written by Sungwon Hyun
Edited by Leanne-Patterson Shin


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