Over the past few years, educators have passionately debated whether "Programming Education" should be mandatory for all students, and while we certainly wouldn't suggest that the world needs eight billion programmers, it's definitely true that anyone with programming knowledge will have a distinct advantage within the workforce.
The reason for this is two fold. Firstly, as workplaces become more tech-centric people who can effectively program (and operate) computers and robotics will increasingly be in demand, but more importantly, "Programming" teaches strong critical thinking and problem solving skills. These skills will be of paramount importance in a rapidly evolving workplace.
This is where programming education becomes so beneficial... particularly at an early age as children's minds rapidly develop and neural pathways are being constructed.
And to me, this is where RoboGarden's programming software is so intriguing. It allows children as young as 1st grade to develop critical thinking skills as they solve challenges through coding.
The attractive interface engages students, and the software is self-directed, meaning that teachers don't need to be "programmers" to be able to successfully teach programming.
Students begin programming with Blockly (drag & drop), and once their programming skills reach a high enough level, the software will seamlessly help them evolve into Java Script and Python (text based) programming.
With easy-to-follow instructions and quizzes at the end of each lesson, students continually build upon what they have learned in previous lessons.
RoboGarden also allows students to experiment, giving them an environment which rewards exploration and curiosity. As student's problem-solving skills improve, challenges become increasingly complex. In scenarios where there are multiple possible solutions, students are encouraged to try to find the most efficient solution.
One of RoboGarden's best features is that students progress at their own speed. This allows advanced students to progress more quickly, while still delivering key curricular outcomes to ALL students. Students that advance more quickly are able to move onto more challenging levels.
From a classroom logistics perspective, RoboGarden offers a web-based interface that works on all computers, tablets and smart phones. The "Teacher Dashboard" allows educators the ability to easily track student progress, while administrators have the ability to track the progress of all students and classrooms, allowing for generalized and in-depth analysis.