It is no longer just software engineers that need programming skills — our workforce is becoming increasingly digital and we all need to keep up.

We have a lot to be grateful for in terms of the way Australia is weathering COVID-19, particularly compared to other countries, both from a health perspective and an economic one. Yet, it has certainly had a big toll in terms of illnesses, job losses and unemployment. Some industry leaders have focused on the need for retraining, arguing that people with transferable skills will be better placed to switch to those industries less impacted by COVID-19, such as mining, healthcare and medical, manufacturing, transport, logistics and services. …

We are always striving to have the NCSS (National Computer Science School) Challenge provide the best possible competition and learning experience for our teachers and students. We are constantly working to improve our features and content based on feedback from our awesome teachers.

I spoke to our Content Manager, Jane Abrams, about some of the amazing features in the NCSS Challenge this year and how they help to improve learning and engagement for everyone involved:

Live Classroom View

The theme for Hour of Code this year is creativity. Creativity is not something many people associate with coding, but they are so strongly linked; creativity is a vital part of coding!

Some of the free Hour of Code courses you can find on Grok Learning. See more:

We went around the Grok office and asked some of our team members what creativity means to them. Here are their responses:

Jess Norris — Project Manager & Software Engineer

Creativity is … all about exploring ideas — following them down the rabbit hole, or feeding them with inspiration so that small ideas can become big ones. In any project, you have an end goal, but the creativity helps you work out how you get there…

Our solar system — not to scale!

Computer science isn’t just about writing programs. Students need to learn concepts such as computational thinking, algorithms and efficiency.

Here we have provided a short unplugged activity where students will use features and yes/no questions to build a decision tree. Students are encouraged to focus on efficiency and build a tree with the shortest number of steps. The activity is based on classifying the planets, so is suitable for a computer science or a science class.

There are a couple of extension options at the end for students who move through this more quickly or for those that need a…

Announcement about NESA Accredited PD

As of December 2020, NESA will no longer endorse providers or register professional development in the way it has done in the past. The endorsement of all currently NESA Endorsed Providers, including Grok Learning, is cancelled. Under the new Policy, individual courses will be assessed and accredited by NESA according to principles of effective professional learning and specific criteria in priority area

Read more here:

We ❤ BBC micro:bit

UPDATE: We have added even more NESA accredited courses! Read about them here: More free Professional Development hours with Grok Learning

We are excited to announce that Grok Learning is now endorsed to provide NESA Registered Professional Development for teachers accredited at Proficient Teacher level.

Completing the BBC micro:bit Crash Course will contribute 10 hours of NESA registered PD addressing 2.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Even better, because all teachers are eligible for free accounts on Grok, any verified teacher can complete this course for free!

Two of our team, Jessica Norris and Ben Taylor, recently spoke at Decompress 2018 on the tech side of developing a JavaScript course. Watch the video of their talk below:

Our JavaScript course will be released shortly. While you wait, check out our other courses at and follow this blog for updates!

There are a lot of articles around about why everyone should learn to code, and they make some very valid points, but almost all of them focus on future benefits — mostly on career advantages. Focusing on benefits that will only be realised years from now is not likely to be motivating for most students, particularly younger ones.

The one other commonly given reason is for students to learn problem-solving skills. However, there are many ways to practice problem-solving skills that don’t require also developing expertise in a specific field such as programming.

So with that in mind here are…

Monster Maker — a great way for young kids to get started with coding

Great things start from the smallest of beginnings. We went around the office and asked the team how they got into coding. Some started younger than others; some fell into it when they least expected to. Everyone’s coding journey is different- maybe these will remind you of yours.

If you are inspired by our stories and want to get into coding yourself, or want to get bring coding into your classroom, our Intro to Programming (Python) and Intro to Programming (Blockly) courses are great way to get started.

Some of us started out teaching ourselves at a young age:

Grok Learning Co-Founder and Director of the National Computer Science School, James Curran, explains in Education Matters why digital literacy is critical to maintaining a functioning society and the workforce.

In this article, James Curran discusses:

  • The new Digital Technologies curriculum
  • Why it is so important
  • Some of the challenges teachers will face as a result of its introduction.
  • The many resources available to help teachers with this transition.

“The introduction of Digital Technologies is perhaps the most disruptive curriculum change that Australia has seen in many years, especially in primary. …

This profile is republished with permission from TechSydney — an entrepreneur-led industry group that connects, supports and promotes the tech industry in Sydney.

Member profile: Tara Murphy, co-founder, Grok Learning

What led you to co-found Grok Learning; what was the “aha” moment?

My co-founder (and partner) James and I had been teaching large computing classes at the University of Sydney and running an online programming competition for thousands of students. To do this, we’d developed an innovative platform for giving students intelligent feedback and marking their assessments. At the same time, two PhD students who had been working with us…

Christie McMonigal

Science communicator with a keen interest in all things STEM.

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