Even when you're lucky enough to have a 1:1 or BYOD program at your school, if you're teaching coding, you should ask your students to work in pairs. It might seem counterintuitive, but experts recommend pair programming — having students learn and practice coding in two-person teams at a single computer — even when technology allows them to work individually.
Why? It's all about collaboration. It's extremely helpful to have another person around when you are trying to figure out solutions to the difficult problems that students will face when learning how to code.
Pair programming is a lot like driving a car on a long road trip: One person is the driver and the other is the navigator. The driver uses the keyboard to take action on the computer, while the navigator watches for issues. As a team, they can work more efficiently and with more confidence than a single programmer can alone.
Of course, good teamwork requires etiquette. Communication is vital. Drivers should pay attention to the navigator, and navigators should not try to jump in and take over for the driver.
Watch the video below to learn more do's and don'ts of programming in pairs.
Kiki Prottsman is the executive director of Thinkersmith and a former computer science instructor at the University of Oregon. She writes for the Huffington Post, sits on the Education Advisory Council for Code.org, is a member of the advisory board for Wonder Workshop and is a member of the Oregon Girls Collaborative Project leadership team. Check out Thinkersmith's IndieGoGo campaign to build a prototype computer science facility where community members of all ages can get effective and engaging CS education.